Monday, June 11, 2007

The Poppies Are Merely For Decoration

I have recently come to believe that I have led a rather sheltered adult life. No one could argue that my childhood was rosy sweet, but something changed once I reached my twenties. SRH and I got married, found some couple friends, occasionally went to see a movie, and considered life good.

Oh sure, we have had our share of “couple friends” issues. You know the type: I really like Person A, but SRH hates Person B. Or SRH gets along well with person C, but Person D and I couldn’t have less in common. (I remember a particularly painful evening spent with a woman who had mean things to say about every other woman in the room.)

But these are minor issues. As we become increasingly parent-ified, we are more likely to have parent/couple friends, and commonalities become easier to find. We no longer seek “couple friends” in the way that we used to. Instead we are thrilled when we meet and click with new parent/couple friends – something which seems infinitely easier to do.

Me: Hey, didn’t I see you with your bossy kid at the paint store?

Generic Other Parent: Oh yeah, that’s right.

Me: Why don’t you come over for a play date?

GOP: That would be great.

(Volia! Friendship ensues.)

It’s been like this since Zane was born. Friends somehow come out of the wood work. I meet neat people at the park, at preschool, at the OT’s office (well maybe not there, but you get my drift), at the pediatrician, in the grocery store.

I am in the baffling position of actually liking more and more people. Strange, that.

But recently, one set of our most favorite parent/couple friends seems to be becoming… well…un-coupled.

And I am completely unprepared for this. SRH and I have lived in a bubble for the past 12 years where none of our married/committed friends have broken up. Truly – not one serious couple has decided to end their relationship.

Their partnerships might be train wrecks. We might think they’d be happier apart. We might even wonder how in the world they ever got together, but none of them have decided to call it quits.

And lest you forget, I worked with battered women for years. I am totally down with ending a relationship which is not good for you. I think that kids are happiest when their parents are happy – however that happens. I don’t believe that most people leave their relationships lightly, and I absolutely respect their right do so.

But this…this feels different somehow. This is a couple that we adore - both of them. They are both wonderful people who are completely devoted to their child. They are good, kind people who simply can’t figure out a way to stay together.

And that just doesn’t seem right.

It’s making me wake up from this shelter of the past decade and look at the complexity of love and relationships. It is no longer the simple: you love each other, you work hard at your relationship, you stay together. It is something more like: with love, hard work, and a fair bit of luck, you might end up together.

And truthfully, I have never been close to a break-up where one person can’t be painted as the villain (or at least more villain-like). I just don’t have a good handle on this one.

No villain. No blame. No answers. Just sadness.

And because you know that I can’t stay with sadness long, here are the three ways I have decided to deal with this – and all future - No-Fault Breakups:

  1. Arbitrarily assign fault – I’ll flip a coin, spin a bottle, paper/rock/scissors – whatever. I’m assigning blame, and it doesn’t matter where it lands.
  2. Ruthlessly mock SRH – This might seem nonsensical, but it sure makes me feel better.
  3. Quit my job – Oh wait, I did that last week. Turns out, my friends didn’t reconcile, and my boss wouldn’t accept my resignation.

Any other ideas?


Anonymous said...

Pretty poppies. Maybe you could blame them.

lsig said...

When this happened to me a few years ago (witnessed the implosion of a relationship that looked fine from the outside), I was terribly shaken up. It's incredibly hard, because it is touching your heart but it has nothing really to do with you so there is no action you can take.

And then there are those couples you'd bet a steak dinner won't last a year...there's no telling, is there?

Garbo said...

Couples put other couples under so much pressure to do the relationship right that it's a wonder any of us can stay together. The female half of a couple we know was sure that while she and her husband argue, that Deb and I never argue. I said that Deb and I did occasionally argue and the woman was truly surprised. Why would this woman put such high expectations on her relationship? Everybody gets stressed or exhausted or physically ill or freaked out and if it's happening to both people in a couple then crankiness will ensue. Now, I do wonder whether the woman I was talking to kept the rule of decency. I suspect she and her husband say some things to each other that would be really hard to take back later. That'll mess things up good. And Deb and I both try to address whatever was the problem so we don't have that particular fight again. That lets us use our creativity to think up something new to be exasperated about. We're people and people are like that.

I always freak out when long-term couples break up because I'm afraid it's an omen that my own relationship will end. It's getting harder and harder to find people who have been together 18 years like Deb and I have, and I need them for support and role models. If any of these couples break up, then I freak out internally though I try to be supportive on the outside.

And like you, I prefer to have a villain to blame. I will create one if I need to.

Karen said...

major suckage. we've had some couple friends split, and boy oh boy was it awkward. and sad. and really really hard. i'm sorry you have to deal with this, and i'm sorry they are going through it. bugger.

not really sure on how to deal with it. :(

if your boss wouldn't accept your resignation, what does that mean? you still have a job even when you stop showing up?

L. Noelle said...

That totally sucks! I hate hearing about these things also! And I don't even know them! yah, they are pretty poppies!

Brenda said...

Wow, I haven't had to deal with that either....sorry, I think you must assign blame, I think there is something you can find to pick at until you can turn against one of them.

Sorry about my DH, he brings all my couple friendships to a halt :)
(he is the hated one do have something in common with me.....I didn't insult all the women...oh god, paranoia setting in...!

belsum said...

You've gone this long without having a friend couple break-up? Wow. I cannot relate. I've got a dear friend who is on his third (and hopefully last) marriage already! (We made out like thieves after the first and he lived with us for a couple of months after the second so....)

zulhai said...

You never really knows what goes on with people. The hardest thing for me about couple friends breaking up is that eventually, you have to pick a side.
As for it being better for the children, I can't say I agree with that, unless there is physical abuse or drugs involved. I've seen a few too many of the Walking Wounded. Children are selfish and needy. They do better if the parents just suck it up and get along.
It is like the old joke, if a kid is given a choice between a happy, fulfilled Mom in Hawaii, and a broken-hearted suicidal Mom in the next room, they will take Mom in the next room every time.

Zany Mama said...

Stupid poppies. They're pretty but evil.

That is absolutely it - it is touching my heart but it has nothing really to do with me.

So weird.

And I think that we are just one short year away from owing you guys dinner, aren't we?

Inded, the rule of decency, is key to staying together I think. (But what the heck do I know?)

I'm always shocked when people say things like, "Everyone gets mad and says things they don't mean." or when couples purposely try to hurt each other with their words.

Those are deal breakers, I think. Or at least, like you said, they are incredibly hard to come back from.

Okay, now I'm rambling, but you are right in so much of your comment, that I will just continue to nod my head with you.

Major suckage.

I walked into her office and she said, "Don't resign. Oh god, you're not going to resign are you? Please tell me you are not resigning. Don't resign, okay?"

Me, "Okay."

I'll post more about it later.

It does suck, doesn't it?

FYI, the poppies are in my front yard. I always thought I hated orange flowers. See what I dufus I am?

I'm sorry about your DH, too. But mostly because (in my mind) he made you move out of our neighborhood. :)

It's hard to be couple friends when you have to load up the car with children and drive past three Mcdonald's to see each other.

Why don't you move back to town?

So, by "making out like thieves" are you referring to a threesome you guys had after his first divorce?

I'm just curious...because I had an interesting conversation about threesomes recently. Not interesting in the "I'd like to try that" way, but more in the "this story is a train wreck" kind of way.

I agree that kids can be black holes of need - that's why I don't think their every desire can determine what happens for an entire family of people.

Diane Rehm had a fabulous show on about children of divorce last year. It was very generative, non-judgmental, and deep.

Do you like Diane Rehm? I think she is a goddess. I'm not overstating when I say that I think she's the best radio journalist I've ever had the privilege of listening to.

Everyone in the universe should listen to her indescribably informative show. (Because I just love hyperbole).

rb said...

Hey, I'm back. Well, maybe he's really a batterer but no one knew. You know how they can act. b/c you and SRH had been "couple friends" to both them she couldn't tell you - she had to act right so that he would not get mad at her for outing his behavior. ....No one really knows what happens in a relationship. It's a sacred, private thing.

rb said...

Diane Rehm is my favorite too.

Zany Mama said...

Small flaw in your logic, there's no "he" in the relationship.

Plus, you know I have batterer-radar. It's fool proof. :)

Your love of Diane Rehm - Goddess of On-Air Personalities - makes me like you even more.

Lynn said...

Hi, Zany Mama. I read before on SRH's blog that your son likes trains. I don't know if he plays with Thomas the Tank Engine, but I saw this recall article (lead paint) and wanted you to know.

Zany Mama said...

Thanks for the heads up. We do, indeed, have several of the recalled toys.


(Plan is to take them away overnight and see if my brilliant child notice. He will, of course. Must come up with a reasonable explanation. Ugh.)

belsum said...

No threesomes. Heh. We got all of his Star Trek action figures. Still have 'em all, too.