Just Shoot Me

The Associated Press reported last week that the U.S. divorce rate is at its lowest point since 1970. That happens to be the year I got married. According to the AP, the rate has been declining more or less steadily since 1981. In ’81 5.3 divorces occurred for every 1,000 Americans. Last year 3.6 was the figure.
If you’re pro-marriage and pro-family, don’t stand up and cheer just yet. One demographic fact driving down the rate, experts told AP, is that ten times as many couples choose to live together sans wedding bands than was the case in 1970. The marriage rate has dropped 30 percent in the past quarter century. Couples who do tie the knot typically hold off an extra five years.
Some folks, I’m sure, stay married because a divorce is a luxury they can’t afford. Rich celebrities have paid spectacular amounts to escape soured relationships. Kevin Costner’s first divorce settlement reportedly weighed in at $80 million. Bruce Springsteen is said to have paid model-actress Julianne Phillips $20 million to split up in 1989. I’m impressed that these guys were capable of shelling out more money than I will probably ever earn. One more movie or concert tour and the coffers were filled to overflowing again, I guess. For most of us, the break-up is a huge financial setback.
Just affording a good divorce lawyer is a challenge. A colleague whose wife left him last year journeyed to Doylestown, Bucks County’s seat, in search of legal counsel. Interviewing several “family practice” attorneys, he was quoted hourly rates in the range of $350.
Then there’s all the sentimental stuff. Once the big bucks, such as they are in our debt-burdened society, are out of the way, the real blood gets shed over the CD collection, the Lazy-Boy, and the kitchen furniture. Last, but far from least, are custody and visitation rights with the kids. As Paul Simon said in one of his songs, “This will cost a year of my life. And then there’s all that weight to be lost.”
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot the weight-loss part. Have you ever noticed how many divorcees look ten times better six months after the divorce is final than they looked before the proceedings started? Well and good… but you have to wonder whether the mess might have been avoided had they lost that 75 pounds before their spouses lost interest in them.
An old joke has a ninety-something couple coming into court and petitioning for a divorce. “Sure,” says the judge, “I can grant you a divorce. But may I ask why it’s taken you so long to split up.”
Replies the wife, “We were waiting for the kids to die.”
I don’t know anyone who waited that long. I do know quite a few former couples who held off until the kids were out of college and completely on their own. Some of these break-ups proceeded pretty amicably, I must admit. The scary part for some of these folks came after the split, when they decided to start dating. Not having had a “date” in the pristine sense of the term for nearly four decades, I feel for them.
Bars and clubs were once the venues of choice for meeting similarly situated people of the opposite (or in some cases, same) sex. Today, the Internet is the favored route to a new relationship. On some sites, I’m told, you review the profiles and “wink” at the guy or girl who captures your fancy. This seems a little bit scary to me. As Diane Keeton’s old movie, “Looking for Mr. Good Bar,” demonstrated decades ago, picking up people in saloons is a dangerous game. How much more dangerous is Internet dating, I wonder. People can create completely fictional personas to attract that first wink.
Then there’s the date itself. As a teenager, on a first date I groped my way to first base in the back seat of the old man’s car… if I was lucky. Now, here are these thirty- or forty- something folks, going back to one or another’s home after dinner and a movie. What’s called for… a kiss good night… or a whole lot more? Do you discuss this candidly as consenting adults or grope your way to the answer like awkward teens?
This is more than I can stretch my mind around. That’s why I’ve told my better half, “If you ever get sick and tired of me, just shoot me.”

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2 Responses to “Just Shoot Me”

  1. […] Just Shoot MeBars and clubs were once the venues of choice for meeting similarly situated people of the opposite (or in some cases, same) sex. Today, the Internet is the favored route to a new relationship. On some sites, I’m told, you review the … […]

  2. […] Bars and clubs were once the venues of choice for meeting similarly situated people of the opposite (or in some cases, same) sex. Today, the Internet is the favored route to a new relationship. On some sites, I’m told, you review the … read more.. […]

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