So, I’ve been spending some time reading the writings of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex, and it’s been pissing me off. Specifically, I’ve been checking out the websites of the fear mongers, the false hope sellers, and the motivational speakers who promise if you send them $159 they will save your marriage.
Bunch of witch doctors. They may as well sell you a magic amulet to wear around your neck (made of powdered unicorn horn, of course) for all the good their “therapy” will do. But that’s not the most repugnant thing. What truly upsets me about them is that they tap into some very real fears and prejudices, about the specter of divorce, about being single, and about the institution of marriage itself.
Michele Weiner-Davis of “Divorce Busters” — actually gives pretty good advice on repairing your marriage after infidelity. Heck, I even agree with the forgiveness statement if you reconcile — I mean who wants a lifelong marriage of You’re On Probation Asshole? It’s what she does NOT say. It’s the advice that is missing. What do you do in the very likely event that your cheating spouse is NOT committed to saving the marriage? Does NOT do the homework, is NOT sorry, resents apologizing, can’t stay no contact with the AP? Does one thing on the list and neglects the other 27?
All this advice “works” because it assumes you have a cheater who is committed to fixing the marriage. It’s like selling a book on how to Be A Millionaire! And the first step is have $999,999 in the bank.
There’s no word about what you’re supposed to in the likely event that they keep cheating on you and are not one bit sorry. No, they just peddle fear — whatever you do, don’t be one of those DIVORCED people! It shamelessly sells the ridiculous idea that you can FIX THIS ALONE.
It’s right there on the home page — marital “problems are solvable…even if your husband or wife doesn’t agree!”
Long before it was in vogue or politically correct to question the sanity of rampant divorce, Michele Weiner-Davis, M.S.W., best-selling author and marriage therapist, took a stand. She believes that the vast majority of divorces in our country are absolutely unnecessary because most relationship problems are solvable.
The “sanity of rampant divorce”? Really? Hey, if you get divorced, you might just want to question your very sanity. She also has “solutions if your husband is not interested in sex.”
Implied in a point of view that you can Fix This Alone — right down to your husband’s erection — is that if you FAIL to fix it, you’re the problem. That’s a conclusion most people don’t want to come to, so they’ll hang in there trying and buy as many motivational videos as it takes. Great sales tactic there, Michele.
If you don’t fix this, well you must be a quitter. You didn’t Do It Right. You are missing out on this bright unicorn land of Happy Marriage — and now you’re doomed to divorce, Land O’ Losers.
I despise this notion that to be “pro-marriage” you must want to save every marriage, whatever the problem. I despise the divorce shaming that goes along with this pro-marriage stance.
I value marriage. I was married to people who did not value me, or marriage. Now, I am. Divorce wasn’t this sad, awful scar on my life. The pain that endures forever — which is the gloom scenario they like to scare you with to buy their shit. No, divorce was liberation. I took it on faith. I deserve better than this abuse — and better is out there. I asserted myself — and my vision of marriage. I believe in marriage. I believe in monogamy. I believe in mutuality and respect. I had marriages that were NOT marriage.
I love marriage. I love every domestic detail. I like picking up the dry cleaning. I like the regular sex. I love how after we fight, we make up, we apologize. I like the hugs. I like that we have a will, that if get hit by a bus tomorrow, he will sort things out for me and distribute my pinecone elf collection to the deserving. I like how my husband risks life and limb to teach my teenage son to drive. I admire how my husband thinks of thoughtful gifts for my parents, how he patiently listens to my mother prattle on about her summer cottage or my father’s ham radio hobby. I love his flannel shirts. I love that he wants to make me a Red Sox fan. I love that combined, we have three cool sons and we can compare notes on all things teenage boy. (Hot Pockets or frozen pizza?) I love that I’m going to grow old with someone who loves me. I love that my husband challenges me, and cross examines me, and calls me on my shit. I love that he lets me dress in him in pressed shirts.
Unicorns? I LOVE MY MARRIAGE. It’s precisely because I LOVE marriage that I hate to see chumps abused and sticking out BAD marriages. All marriages aren’t created equal. Every marriage cannot and should not be saved. If I hadn’t “quit” and left two hopeless marriages (both of which I tried desperately, and pointlessly, to save) — I wouldn’t have this good marriage now.
Oh, and as long as we’re being sacrilegious — I don’t even think marriage is the gateway to happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m deliriously happy to be married to my husband, but that’s because it’s him. If he was gone tomorrow, I’m confident I’d find a good life out there without him, and he’d do the same if I wasn’t here. I was single a long time — I had a rich, satisfying life. Being home alone with my son and my garden was a million times better than being in a bad marriage. No, a GAZILLION times better. (I have cataloged the horrors of my former marriages elsewhere, I won’t go into it now. Trust that they sucked. Epically.)
These unicorn salesman — they sell fear. YOU CAN’T FAIL AT MARRIAGE, YOU’LL BE ALONE! YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE FUCKUPS. YOUR HAIR WILL FALL OUT. NO ONE WILL LIKE YOU. YOU WILL BE SHUNNED.
It’s all lies. Every human being, if they aren’t a sociopath, has a fear of abandonment. What makes divorce so scary is you have to wrestle that fear to the ground, hogtie the motherfucker, and step out on faith anyway. You won’t be alone. You are NOT unloveable. You have good values. You tried hard. You did the best for your children. The LAST thing a chump needs is a bunch of quacks yelling from the sidelines “YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!”
Step out, chumps. Put down the crack pipe of hopium, and go gain that new life. It’s waiting for you.