As you gossipy scamps already know, there’s been a wave of divorces run through our community lately. It’s nothing new — every few years a raft of marital Scrabble players trade in their letters hoping to find a better word. But the sheer volume of recent breakups might be unprecedented.
Before anyone starts another rumour, thanks to a potent combination of charm and good cooking, I managed to squeak through the last wave of separations intact. But if you think this success has yielded insight into what is fuelling the divorce phenomenon, it hasn’t. For that you need to ask a smug Baby Boomer who is still married after four or five decades. They’ll go on about later generations’ lack of work ethic and fortitude to soldier on when someone burns the toast. And, despite their annoying rush to judgment, they might have a point. Maybe growing up in a throw-away society of material goods has taught us that when something starts to falter, you ditch it for a new one.
But then, what about the kids? It’s a sensitive subject best avoided at social gatherings. I was chatting with a fellow PHSS grad at the Hopper a few months ago and the subject came up. A casual conversation turned nasty when I suggested that maybe humans aren’t biologically intended to remain monogamous for life. She lost her shit, stormed off and unfriended me on Facebook. Divorces make life awkward in a small community.
First, you will see your former spouse around town, sometimes with the person they took up with after you. And, it should be expected that their new mate will be an acquaintance of yours — maybe even a friend. If you grew up here, that’s old hat. In high school, if you dated someone and it didn’t work out, it was expected of you to give your friends the green light to go there next. There just aren’t enough dating options around here to do otherwise.
But the real tragedy in any divorce is the havoc wreaked on the couple’s social periphery. I hate to make other people’s misery all about me but the drama tends to wear on you after the third or fourth or fifth divorce within what was once your social circle. That’s because, when someone divorces, they don’t just split the assets and kids, but friends as well. Men, who are rarely the social planners in a relationship, find themselves at the mercy of their partners when it comes to who fills the seats at dinner parties. That means invites favour the woman’s friends while former mates drift off looking for new social herds.
Still, I like to think this disposable marriage syndrome is just part of an evolving, multi-generational pattern. Perhaps in another 20 years we will dispense with the antiquated concept of commitment altogether and live in a happy patchwork of co-parenting and Tinder hookups. But for now, if you’re thinking about getting a divorce, this might be the time for it — there’s never been such a bounty of single people around here.