Jeff and I are always trying to keep our lines of communication open. We talk about cheating. We talk about our differences in parenting styles. We talk a lot about a lot of things and, for extra-credit, we have both been in therapy many times. So, when we watched a movie about two couples having affairs (“Last Night”) the other night it was no surprise the discussion afterward lasted as long as the film. During this discussion it came to our attention once more that the thrill of an awesome, new relationship is intoxicating and in all honestly, very hard to beat. After this discussion I’ve started calling this phenomenon the 100-day relationship. For some people this feeling of falling in love is addictive and destructive. These people are called serial monogamists and two of them, brothers, live across the street from us. Every couple of years a new lady moves in. It is quite entertaining for me, and for them the 100-day phase is the best part of their lives. One in particular is transparent in his joie de vivre whenever he has a new little lady in his life.
On the other hand, marriage is hard work and not quite as intoxicating quite as often. Ahem. Anyone who says otherwise is single. That any marriage outlasts the temptation to go out and find a new partner is no small miracle, such is the pull of the 100-day relationship high.
Today I spent a few hours working with a woman in the middle of a divorce. This is the second such experience for me in the past three weeks. In both cases the marriages were approaching twenty years when the couple separated. Twen-ty. Twenty, people!
So here comes me bouncing in for some organizing fun, so full of pride in my long-term marriage that I’m already planning our next anniversary celebration, only to find that my clients are as surprised as I am by the ending of their marriages which they thought were bullet-proof sometime after year eleven. And now, they really need some help getting their affairs in order–especially their financial affairs. All of that talk about money and hate and the children is really not fun.
Not the most cheerful organizing sessions I’ve worked through. Still, I’m so lucky to be able to help people in practical ways through major life changes. And in these cases I come home very thankful for Jeff and for our communication patterns. I also come home more aware that there is no silver bullet. There is no guarantee that my marriage will not spiral down a dark hole due to unforeseen events or bad decisions. This knowledge hasn’t made me depressed and it hasn’t made me chipper either. It has made me pensive—about life insurance and retirement plans. And I am also more aware of little ways I could take better care of myself and be more considerate to my man. And right about now, you can color me inspired to move those straight to the top of my to-do list.