It’s one thing to hear abstract statistics about how many marriages end in divorce. Statistics include everybody, and lord knows what everybody is doing. But it’s quite another to watch your friends, the normal people you’ve known for a long time, the ones who have stable relationships and tend to make good choices, go down.
My husband and I have been together long enough to have borne witness to this a few times, most recently over this past holiday. When people ask me whether I did anything special for New Year’s, I can say yes. I left the house and my husband close to 11pm, to drive across the city to make sure a friend who wasn’t answering the phone was hanging in there after receiving some particularly distressing news about her marriage, which had already burst into flame in a spectacular way a few weeks earlier.
This kind of thing invariably makes me appreciate my spouse a little more, the relative insignificance of our complaints. Our friend’s trouble didn’t lead us to take a weekend away just for ourselves – we had planned to do it anyway – but it did form part of the background as we firmed up our plans to go.
We decided to go to a unique bed and breakfast, an urban homestead which practices some truly sustainable living practices that we find inspiring and would like to learn from. It was just an hour and a half away, and we were gone just over 24 hours in total, but we had to pull out the stops for childcare, with my mother, my sister, and my in-laws all pitching in. I did the planning and the packing and the shipping of children while my husband was at work (I picked him up there) and I confess that by the time we were starting our trip, I was tired.
But of course it was worth it. Even the drive offered wide expanses of time to talk, uninterrupted. The accommodation was simple and lovely, the hostess warm and informative, and we soaked up the tour she gave of her house and farm. It was an unusually mild winter weekend, so my husband and walked long into the night, and more during the day, taking in new surroundings, eating meals that were, again, uninterrupted. We made some exciting plans. It felt good.
Yet still I find myself thinking about my friend, the one whose marriage wouldn’t have been fortified by any number of weekend jaunts. I know she will find her way through the mess. But she’s no statistic, and until she comes out on the other end of this, I’m sending her whatever wishes of comfort and strength that I can.