Friday, July 8, 2011

The last illusion of a sure thing being disenchanted from the senior end

I happened to read an article today about Late-Life Divorce. The summary: "It might be more common than you think. Why some older couples are calling it quits after decades of marriage."

My own parents wanted to call it quits after the stress and resentment of a move to Canada, wild fluctuation in family finances, and fundamental differences in financial risk tolerance. All of which led to a confusing love-hate situation -- or perhaps more accurately, a gratefulness-anger situation. Grateful for what each does (and have done) for the other, yet really unable to reconcile that with their differences and accumulation of unresolved arguments.

I've always thought of marriage as being a sort of idealistic illusion. I mean, what is it, exactly?
The ritual of marriage typically has everyone come together to acknowledge that two people are now "attached" -- and therefore are off limits. This is further enforced with generally commonly acknowledged terms and connotations for adultery -- which is even more strongly connoted by the term "cheating".
But what is the reason behind this?

I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. I, ____, take you, ____, for my lawful (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

The vows spoken in a (Roman Catholic) wedding touch on some of the deepest insecurities and fears of any relationship, but overall it is a promise to each other that they won't leave the other person. That they won't be lonely anymore. And implicitly there is an agreement from society to police that promise against threats from within (the taboo against divorce) or without (the concept of adultery).
Loneliness remains one of the personal crises of the modern age. In fact, 19% of calls (in 2010) to the Vancouver Crisis Centre had loneliness as one of the main concerns.

Perhaps people who truly have many supportive and active friends (as opposed to mere acquaintances) are not as at risk of loneliness and therefore not as quick to latch onto the first person who shows a deep interest in them, nor as committed to them merely for the alleviation of loneliness.

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