The divorce rate in the United States is at a 30-year low. It's down to 3.5 per 1,000, according to the CDC. It's news to me that divorce is classified and tracked as a disease, but apparently it's got enough of an impact on health to be tracked. Considering it, for those of us who have slogged through the muck and detritus of a destroyed union and endured the exhaustion, depression and weight loss/gain that typically mark the experience, I don't suppose it should come as a surprise.
This week Bruce Feiler, in a piece in the NY Times, suggested that this lowered rate was as a result of all the public discourse on high-profile splits--the end of political marriages like the Gores and the Edwards and of course the exploits of Jesse James, the bad boy who went to good with Sandra Bullock and back to bad again with a chick whose tattoos rivaled his, and of the formerly perfect Mr. Woods--and how all of us get to experience these things vicariously and so don't actually feel the need to end our own marriages. We see how bad it is to actually split up and think well, I guess I can pick his wet towel up off the floor one more bloody day.
This theory is utter nonsense. In the Western world, at least, we all believe our own experiences are somehow unique, and that if we need to be happy, it's for the best. As long as it doesn't cost us too much money. And that's really what the drop in divorce rates is about because, let's face it, unless it's truly intolerable, staying together makes a lot more sense than breaking up, and very few of us see ourselves on easy street these days. Elin couldn't, given her very public humiliation, wait for the market to bounce back, but my bet is that lots of other people are turning a blind eye to spouses' transgressions, large and small, holding out hope that the McMansion will be worth more what they paid for it in a few years and then they can make their escape without losing their shirts.
Just when I started obsessing about my status as a social leper, I ran across an article in the Globe and Mail about a divorced couple who blog about co-parenting. They live in New York and are both writers and bloggers, so they decided it would be an interesting idea to write a blog together, alternating posts. They've really hit on something, since it is, truly both sides of the story on how it feels to try and parent children in two separate houses. Their blog, When the Flames Go Up, is riveting, even for someone in her fifth year at co-parenting. I do like the blog, but at times I've felt they've been a bit smug about how well they are doing, given that it hasn't been too long and neither has remarried or had other children.
So far, although they are both good writers, I like hers more than his. He tends to talk a lot more about the doing, she the feeling, not really a surprise. But he is funny and articulate, and does occasionally share an emotional nugget, as in his post entitled "If This Blog Were a Pig, it Would Have Unearthed its First Truffle." Sorry to be a girl, but I'm not reading this to know that he spent eleven days with his extended family canoeing; I want to know how he gets through his days in general.
Her posts are sometimes emotional but, at their best, pragmatic. They've only been at this for a few weeks, have gotten a lot of press along with many, many comments from people who are going through this, and I see their perspective growing as a result. I loved her latest installment, called, "Why We Can." She gives reasons why their arrangement works--among them, that they are both sane and live eight blocks from one another-- that make perfect sense. She saves herself from sanctimommy-ness, albeit the divorced kind, with the following statement: "...you can't, by definition, co-parent equally, if both of you aren't in it. If that's where you are, think about parallel parenting (in which you each do the best you can with what you can control, separately) instead." She's a newbie, but she gets it.