Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just What I needed to See

I read a summary of an Australian study about marriage yesterday that contained the following quote, which I found very discouraging.

"Also, partners who are on their second or third marriage are 90 percent more likely to separate than spouses who are both in their first marriage."

I'd like to read the actual study because that is a pretty big blanket statement. Are they considering cases in which one or both partner(s) is (are) on their second or third marriage? Is there a difference between these two cases? Also, is there a difference between the statistics for people who are on 3rd versus 2nd marriages?
If you think about it, (judging from this statement) there are 6 different marriage combinations that could have been included in this study (1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 2:2, 2:3, and 3:3), and this single sentence regarding previously married people lumps 5/6 of them all together with this frighteningly high marriage failure rate statistic. Clearly further research needs to be done to elucidate the differences between these 5 cases if it has not already been further detailed in the study.
So now that my rational engineer's brain has picked apart this statement I'll adjourn this journal club meeting and confess that when I initially read that statement my heart sank. I am very bad about taking negative statistics way too seriously.
I get so angry about the seeming fact that having gone through the absolute hell of divorce increases my risk of going through it again. I honestly didn't do anything wrong, but I feel like I'm being punished. I never in a million years thought that my first marriage would end, but it is so hard to think about marriage in the future without worrying that I will have to get divorced again. Because let me repeat, divorce is hell. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. (That's not saying it wasn't the best decision I have ever made. It was. But it was also the most painful experience I have ever endured.)
I joke that I'm the patron saint of divorcee's because whenever people I know go through a breakup they look to me as an example of how to move on. I'm the very picture of post divorce success and I've made a wonderful life for myself. Ultimately though, I don't think it's possible to endure intense pain (no matter how constructive) without having a few scars.
I made the decision a long time ago to not let my fear of failure prevent me from falling in love and getting married again someday. I still believe that the institution of marriage is a good one for many reasons. However, sometimes it is very easy to feel discouraged. Articles and events in the news that trigger my fear seem to come in waves.
But this article in Salon today (be warned, it's a bit PG-13 to R, but all in all a celebration of all the good and not so good things that make marriage lovely) made me feel a little better. So thank you.
And now back to my regularly scheduled non-soul baring posts.

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