Data Point

The latest statistics from the American Psychological Association, and other similar sources, indicate that approximately 45-50% of first marriages in America end in divorce; 65-68% of second marriages end in divorce; and about 75% of third marriages. Women initiate over 60 % of all divorces.

These are sorry data points. The chances aren’t good.

I am my wife’s third husband; she is my second wife. She unilaterally initiated the dissolution of our marriage. Was I a statistic waiting to happen, an exponential inevitability that only keen and mutual self-awareness, deep listening and communication, and a commitment to something bigger than ourselves could have forestalled?

I have fought my entire life never to be swept up in a trend, and here I am decidedly “on trend,” like gray rooms with darker shades of gray trim. Gray indeed.

Being a likelihood doesn’t mitigate the sadness. Or my abiding conviction that it didn’t need to be this way.

I was out for dinner with my son Adam last night at a new local reasonably fashionable restaurant called Pearl. Among the tables of thirty-something hipsters were several tables of attractive couples in their sixties or older. They were talking and laughing, sharing plates, enjoying each other’s company. I had seen one couple walk in holding hands. I wanted to be them. This is how I saw my life proceeding. Life isn’t all a joyous meal, but growing comfortably and lovingly old together—trudging the happy road of destiny hand in hand—is a vision I long for…and apparently can’t achieve. It makes me very sad.

Sadness can be an opportunity to express one’s humanity. It can over time heal loss. Experiencing loss with authentic sadness, poignant sadness, begins the healing process.

When it triggers the reactivation of earlier losses it doesn’t heal anything. It’s a life sentence of heartache.

A few days ago an online photo service I’ve used sent me a promotional email titled Your Memories From 2010. Among the dozens of favorite pictures taken of all my boys, Bowdoin, the Maine coast, and Midwood were photos of EL—photos whose originals I had destroyed, burnt in my Russian Hill fireplace, never wanting to see them again. The pain they had formerly produced was gone. I was glad to see them, to see her, and to remember the times when they were taken. They made me smile.

Put the past in the past.

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