In the wake of the split of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt this week, I’ve taken notice of a trend: everyone is a marriage expert. From memes of Jennifer Anniston’s smug face to statements like “Karma is a bitch, if he cheats with you, he will cheat ON you.” Everyone has something to say about this. And, yes. I know. There are a hundred or more other important news events that I could write about right now, but I’ve been struck today by my anger and frustration over this. I guess it’s just that marriage by itself is just so fucking hard. Double the hard by adding kids to the mix. Triple the hard, I can only assume, by being a celebrity. I was talking about this with the woman who was combing head lice out of my daughter’s hair yesterday. (Which is another story for another post…now is just too soon.) She wanted to gossip about it, and I just said, “I can’t imagine how hard it must be for all of them.” She looked at me and raised an eyebrow. I said, “I recently went through a divorce and it was terribly hard, and no one knows who the hell I am. All you want to do in a divorce is to shelter your children from all of it. I can’t imagine being so much in the public eye that shelter isn’t even an option.”
Furthermore? When did every human being on the planet become such a sanctimonious asshole about marriage? Puh-lease. “Oooh. You got what you deserved!” Is this really what people think? What about, sometimes you don’t know what people are going through? How about, you don’t have a clue what is happening – or not happening, as the case may be – behind closed doors? What happens when people change, during the marriage, or as a result of it, and then the relationship is suddenly not what it was when it started? What if maybe having children changes the entire nature of the relationship? What if there are suddenly not enough hours during the day to nurture children, and to nurture a marriage, and maybe the two spouses don’t know how to connect anymore after the disconnect happens? Maybe you wake up one day and you don’t know who the person sharing your bed is anymore? What if the way you were raised, and what you saw as an example of marriage happens to shape your own marriage? What if you become someone you didn’t like as a result of being married? Maybe becoming that person was to try to fit in, to try to soften your edges, or to try to connect with a new, extended family that is nothing like your own? What if maybe some marriages just don’t work and that’s actually not a bad thing?
I just love how everyone has opinions about this, but I would ask if the same people would want their marriage or relationship under the same kind of scrutiny? Would you want someone to watch you navigate the days and weeks and months after a marriage fails and comment on that, too? Because let me tell you what that’s like. It’s fucking awful, no matter what happened, or how blame is laid, or how “amicable” you think you are with your partner. And guess what? I bet Brad and Angie will find out pretty darned quickly who their friends are. Not the friends who smile and wave as they pass on the street. I’m talking about the friends who come over to sit with you as you cry. The friends who bring over a pizza and braid your kids hair because you just don’t know what you’re going to feed them tonight, and man, who doesn’t like having their hairs did? I hope they find friends who take them out of town for a weekend, or who welcome them into their homes when they just need to get away. I hope they find the friends who want to go out and NOT talk about how life as they knew it will never be the same. I hope they find friends who will ask how they’re doing, and actually mean it, and will actually stick around for the long answer. I hope they find friends who aren’t scared by the random crying that comes during those first weeks and months. I hope they find friends who, a year from now, will still be there, and will be able to say, “Man. That fucking sucked. But you survived, and your kids are happy and healthy, and look! You are ok!” I guess I just wish that people would stop and think about these things before making blanket statements about marriage. Guess what? People do stupid shit. We are all human, and we ALL do things that could make a marriage fail. Most of us are just lucky enough to do our failing outside of the public eye.