The six kinds of surprise divorces
The other day, yet another marriage collapsed around me. (No! Not another of my marriages! Somebody else’s!) And yet again, I was caught by surprise.
Now, I shouldn’t be surprised when my friends split up. Around 13 marriages in every 1000 dissolve every year in Australia, so by the law of averages, at least one in every hundred of my friends will get divorced each year (if, you know, I had a hundred friends).
So I expect divorce, in the abstract sense, anyway. But it seems that every time a couple I know separates for real, I am shocked. It’s ironic, because I am forever predicting the demise of seemingly incompatible couples I know, and am quietly amazed when they continue to plod on together for decades. And yet when friends do actually call it quits, I virtually never see it coming.
I thought about the separated couples of my acquaintance, and decided that each falls into one of four broad categories. I have allocated each of these categories a name, chosen, of course, completely at random.
Divorces which surprise us:
The TomKats are an utter mismatch. With their different ages, backgrounds, or even sexual orientations, these couples seem unlikely to survive a year together, let alone endure long enough to make it down the aisle. But bizarrely, they do survive, and thrive, and with time start to make sense as a couple. Their friends hail them as proof that opposites attract, and that age and background (and, er, sexual orientation) don’t really matter. Their divorce is inevitable, and of course totally predictable, but no-one ever sees it coming.
Unlike the TomKats, The Seals are couples who seem to be perfectly matched. They have perfect children, perfect homes and perfect careers, wax lyrical about their love for each other, and offer innumerable PDA’s. On the inside, however, all is crumbling. And when their marital house of cards comes crashing down, their friends are shocked and aghast. Because if the Perfect Couple cannot make it, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Like the Seals, the K-Pats seem to be the perfect couple. Unlike the Seals, however, only one member of the K-Pats actually understands that it’s all an illusion. Sadly, the other member doesn’t, and shocks the hell out of their partner by having an affair. When they break up, cries of “Who would have thought?” can be heard throughout the land.
The Cox’s are far from a perfect couple, but seem comfortable with their marital dysfunction. They stay together for years, making compromises and somehow keeping it all together. And then one day one of them just throws up their hands and says “Enough”, and it’s over. The Cox’s always insist that they still “care deeply for each other” after they divorce, and that they just couldn’t live together anymore. Still, they made an endearing - if volatile - couple, and their friends deeply mourn their breakup.
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not just the divorces that confuse and surprise us. Many highly unlikely marriages endure over time, defying reason and logic, whilst far more credible unions crumble around them. Take, for example:
No-one knows how the Beck marriages last, given that everyone knows one of the partners is cheating. Affairs come and go, infidelities are denied or acknowledged, and divorce is predicted innumerable times. And yet somehow the Becks stay together, through chaste times and bad, for promiscuous or worst, till death do they part.
Everything about the Travoltings is wrong, and absolutely everybody knows it. Either one partner is evidently gay, or one is four times the other’s age, or one is ten times the other’s intelligence, or one was a bellboy in Brazil while the other is a Hungarian heiress. There is absolutely no reason why the Travoltings should stay together and every possible reason why they should quickly break up. And yet they stay married and seemingly happy, for years and years and years.
So whether you’re a K-Pat, a Cox, a Travolting or a Beck, no-one will ever know the true state of your marriage.
And you know what else? You will never know the true state of theirs.