I will be referring to the termination of long term relationships. (10 years or longer). Did you know that the average divorce that makes it past 2 years, dies about 15 years later? The normal long term divorce is almost predictable. Most long term marriages (Usually w/ kids) last 17 to 20 years. The time zone for this destruction is between the ages of 37 and 42. If you’re a post grad professional like a Doctor, Attorney or Anthropologist, Add another ten years to the time zone of destruction. But that time period is more of an “outlier”.
Mark Twain once wrote: “Youth is wasted on the young”. Oh how true, oh how true! If you want to have children and keep a steady income; the younger you marry and procreate, the more energy and tolerance you have for things like trips to the hospital for asthma attacks or unexplained fevers. It is an asset to have youth on your side as a new parent.
But unfortunately, getting married in your early 20s like many traditionalists has one huge fatal built in flaw. The insecurity/immature factor. Unless you’re born a Romney and have incredible guidance and counseling; like most young couples, you marry someone that you have a good time with, have good sex with and over looks your short comings.
THE ANATOMY OF THE LTR
Let’s look at the anatomy of a typical long term marriage that destructs in the 17th to 20th year of matrimony. A LOT of couples marry between the age of 20 and 25. So let’s pick the age of 23. You leave High School at 18, Get accepted to U.C. Santa Cruz, major in business and get your BA in Business at 22. Then you have a voice in the back of your head saying: “Take a year off”. So you take a year to sow your wild oats.
Since your parents probably divorced when you were 12 to 15, you don’t have anyone to turn to that wants to talk about how marriage works. I did take a class in College called “Inter-personal relationships”. I wonder why there were never any classes on Personal Development. You can take this statement to the bank: “The only person you can change is yourself”. After that, remember this: “You need to become the person you want to meet”. But if you’re divorced, we’re talking about water already under the bridge.
Why people throw long term relationships away after 17 years is easy to understand. It’s the number 40. (Forty). For the average proletariat, the age of 40 is a milestone. You start asking yourself questions such as: “Am I on the right course”? “Am I happy with my life”? “How much longer can I put up with this psychotic bitch”? “What would a divorce do to the kids”? (That’s only if you have a conscience and have feelings for others)
Here’s another unfortunate concern: “Men make easy targets for the wife’s unhappiness” especially because a woman’s beauty is her stock in trade if she doesn’t have a profession to dedicate her life to. As much as I respect women who have careers, and stay at home mothers, you will find that the stay at home mother will be more concerned about where she is in life sooner than the career woman. A career woman does not need a man’s support. A stay at home mother needs not only outside financial support, but if she wants to attract another mate, she needs to do so before gravity takes effect.
The age of forty is like a 15 mile per hour curve on a mountain road. Those who intend to age gracefully, know that if you hit the brakes before the curve then accelerate into the curve, you’ll come out of the curve safely and in good shape. Those who are holding on to memories of “the good old days”, roll up the windows, lock the doors, make sure the seat belt is on and floor the gas pedal and go screaming off the cliff in a “Thelma & Louise”, damn the torpedoes, fashion.
What sucks is it only takes one partner to throw 17 years of marriage away. The first question you ask yourself on that first night of sleeping alone is “How did I get here”? The answer is simple. You were clueless when you entered into this eternal bond. You saw what you believed to be attractive and even more enticing; they were attracted to you. You were having fun as a couple and you were having good sex. You were thinking like a young couple. Then before you knew it, your dreams seemed out of reach and your wife was no longer the cheerleader you were “In love with”.
Assuming you’ve tried everything to keep the boat afloat, and I’m mainly addressing those of you with children. And once you’ve come to the conclusion that your spouse wants out before the children have both finished High School, (Which I would consider to be a main objective once the “love” has left the relationship)
If you believe divorce is immanent, keep an eye on your finances. If you’ve trusted your spouse for 2 decades to pay the bills, you may face the unpleasant surprise that “sweetie pie” has been putting your SUV payment in a special secret checking account. I would keep an eye on every balance that is in your name.
Seek personal counseling. Couples counseling is preferred but if wifey tells you to shove counseling up your ass, go for your own personal mental health. You’ll need it now more than ever. Along with counseling, I would submerge myself in your church. There’s a line in the new-testament where Paul writes in the second book of Corinthians: “If the non-believer wants to leave, let them leave”.
If you are a Christian, you know what the church’s views on Divorce are. II Corinthians is the only living loophole. If by chance your spouse wants to proclaim their Christianity, they need to stick it out. If both are Christians, the only out is, (what’s that word)? Oh yeah, adultery. Divorce is a sin as well as adultery. But all sins except Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and I think suicide are forgivable. Theoretically.
MOST IMPORTANTLY AND ABOVE ALL
The most important thing to do after you’re divorced is to spend time alone. Let the emotions come and go. If you did have invested emotions, you are going to hurt. Having an affair with a person half your age may bolster your ego, but it’s not going to do a thing for you long term.
This is a great question and there is no definitive answer. My suggestion is 2/10 or 1/5th. This is a good (not perfect) equation for any relationship. If you dated someone for 5 months, take a month off. If you were married 10 years, take 2 years off. If you were married for 17 years take 3 years and 4 months off. I’m not saying don’t date for 3.4 years, but you need to be up front with the person you’re going to movies with. Tell them that you’ve just gone through a divorce and that you would not be in the right frame of mind for anyone. To be honest, I wouldn’t even start looking for 3 years. It would be like trying to rebuild a house in a hurricane. You have to let the winds die down before you can even think about the foundation. BTW, the same goes, once you start dating, the 20% or 1/5 rule applies to the person you’re dating. This can really suck because you might meet the perfect person. But what happens if 3 years down the road, you meet another “Perfect” person and you say to yourself, did I act out of desperation? The question will always be there.
REMEMBER: WAIT 2 FOR EVERY 10 YOU WERE IN A RELATIONSHIP
2 weeks for every 10 weeks. 2 months for every 10 months and 2 years for every 10 years.
One more fact/Principle you can take to the bank with you. 50% of all divorces happen from the time you say: “Hi, I’m Ace, what’s your name”? Not 2 years from the time you say: “I do”, but 2 years from the day your relationship begins. Naturally the longer you court each other during the first 2 years you know each other, the smaller the chances are of you falling into the 2 year 50% divorce rate. The meaning of this principle is, if you wait 2 years before you get married; you will have already beat the 2 year 50% divorce statistic. Why does this stat happen? Because most people can hide their dark side or a bad habit for up to 18 months. Ya know how on the first date you want to put your best foot forward? Well 18 months later, it’s much harder to keep up the façade. That gives you 4 months to say: “Cya”.