Friday, June 4, 2010

where i get my panties in a twist.

{from here}

Oh boy.

The news of Al and Tipper’s separation left me reeling this week, and I’m not entirely sure why.

Aside from a Southern upbringing, I have little in common with the two. My own politics are drastically different from those of the Gores, and this certainly isn’t the first time a politician and his wife have chosen to call it quits. Heck, People magazine is in existence to make me immune to situations like this.

But their private, personal decision has left a lot of people confused, upset, and questioning their own marriages. (Just read this.) Because if 40 years isn’t enough to keep a couple together, then what is?

In 40 years, I will be 64 years old, and when my hair turns gray and my back begins to spasm, I’d rather be happily sipping lemonade on my back porch with my husband than kicking it in a singles bar.

Until today, I would have assumed that I wasn’t alone in that desire, that the masses of married couples everywhere would agree: Together sipping lemonade is the way to be.

I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

According to a recent New York Times article, divorce lawyers say the fastest-growing segment of their clientele is the middle-aged and elderly.

Couples interviewed in the column gave a laundry list of reasons for divorce, but surprisingly, they are not varied. Some want freedom, others control. Some miss the attention, support, and respect they feel they’ve earned. Some need time to discover themselves; others want someone new and exciting.

The longer I read the Times column, the more ill I began to feel.

This isn’t marriage.

That’s not what marriage looks like.

Call me naïve. Call me sheltered. Call me judgmental and clueless.

But that’s not marriage.

That’s selfish, self-centered, “life’s about me” behavior.

And it can’t end happily.

In the closing paragraph of the story, the author quotes anthropologist Margaret Mead, who once said that women need three husbands: one for youthful sex, one for security, and one for joyful companionship in old age. (I personally find all kinds of things wrong with this argument, namely: Why not one who is all three?)

Then the author ends her column with this thought:

In the 21st century, Margaret Drabble, the British novelist, calls life after divorce “the third age.” The heroine of her novel “The Seven Sisters” says, “Our dependents have died or matured. For good and ill, we are free.”

So let us not feel shocked or sad about the end of Al and Tipper Gore’s marriage. Let us instead wish them well, and hope that they might enjoy their third age, individually and in peace.

No.

I refuse.

I will choose to be shocked. I will choose to be sad.

As a Christian — and as a newly married person — the news of a couple separating should break my heart.

Don’t get me wrong: Al and Tipper’s marriage is none of my business, despite what the news media in general would like me to believe.

But the sacredness of marriage is my business.

Because I am married, and I know people who are.

And the moment we treat marriage as something two people enter into separately and individually, without compromise or negotiation, that’s the moment the entire enterprise breaks down. That’s not what marriage is.

It’s arguments and frustrations and agreeing you’re not perfect but neither am I.

It’s eating what you want but seeing the movie I want.

It’s asking how your day was and supporting your dreams in exchange that you support mine.

It’s two really different people respecting those differences but choosing to come together as one.

In our home, we have a couple of black and white pictures I’ve strategically placed in our kitchen and living room.

They’re of my grandparents shortly after their wedding days. Happy, young, naïve.

Like me.

And their marriages made it.

Not because they were perfect.

Not because they didn’t argue or make mistakes.

But because they decided to make it work.

They chose to love.

Because — and here is the part we all want to forget — love is a choice.

Every day, every minute, every argument, every cuddling session:

It’s a choice.

And just as Al and Tipper chose to potentially end their marriage, I’m choosing not to end mine.

Because it is sacred.

It is hard.

It is challenging.

It is lovely.

It is an adventure.

And it's what I want for 40 years and beyond.

---

In case a disclaimer is necessary, I believe it goes without saying that when a spouse is continually deceitful, abusive, or disloyal, my argument falls apart. This diatribe was written with the New York Times article in mind, specifically the idea that divorce in the name of finding yourself is not only justified, but customary. For some individuals, divorce is the only possible solution to a hurtful situation, and I understand that. My heart breaks for it.

5 comments:

Jordan Jones said...

Well, I vote for the lemonade thing on the back porch, hands down. I would say Mountain Dew, but I know that by age 64 my doctor might have me off the stuff. This is a great blog that stands out against the bleak backdrop of what the world is saying about marriage!

JennBrenn said...

I agree with you 100%. I was really shocked and upset and not because I even really like them but because of marriage in general. It all boils down to this, it is a choice and marriage is a sacred covenant and too many people these days don't know what that means. Maybe we can all be in the same old age home sipping lemonade together playing games :-)

Betsy said...

Annie, it is so wonderful to see you using your God-given talent of writing for His glory. Although I am currently single, I love reading your posts about marriage and relationships. About a year ago I read the book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris, and began to see my singleness as a gift--a time when I can really work on my own faith and mentally and emotionally prepare myself for what the future may hold. Your blog is a true source of wisdom and always gives me thoughts to chew on. You as both a sister in Christ and a wife are such a Godly example and role model, and I can't thank you enough for being honest and bold enough to share what wisdom God has placed on your heart! If I do marry one day, rest assured I will probably be coming to you with questions and looking for advice and a mentor :)

sashyjane said...

What a beautiful post!!

sashyjane said...

What a beautiful post!