A Divorce Story
December 30, 2021 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Beautiful writing. Thank you for sharing this!
posted by merriment at 3:09 PM on December 30, 2021

Suggested pairing, which comments on Jones's piece: The Straights Are Not Ok. Dispatches from the confines of heterosexual marriage (Jill Filipovic, Substack):

"Which is why we need to do the work of putting words to what feels amorphous, until we can shape that feeling into something we can name. It’s why it’s not enough to talk about marriage as a private relationship between two people, a space in which everyone is different and couples are making the choices that are right for them (this is so often the line when we talk about wives taking their husbands’ names, or American children almost universally taking their fathers’ last names, or women being overwhelmingly the spouses who drop out of the workforce). These are not simply individual choices or private decisions made between spouses; they are the outgrowth of generation after generation walking the same ground, until there is a well-worn path off of which one must consciously choose to divert."
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:10 PM on December 30, 2021 [20 favorites]

Oh. Oh, I really enjoyed this.

I've just finished MonkeyToes' link and I think she's right: it's very well paired with the first piece here.

One of the things I keep thinking about, in this our pandemic of making new choices, is the essential free-falling terror of choosing to construct something new; of choosing to make a deliberate, if unusual, choice about what you want your life to be. I still remember a moment from when I was in my early twenties, in college, in a women's studies course when I was talking about some of the conversations I was then having within the asexual community. The professor said to me something along the lines of "how freeing it must be, to be able to make everything up as you go along!" I froze for a moment, and then said "Well, yes, but it's also terrifying: there aren't any patterns for this, and I don't have any idea what I can and can't have."

My spouse and I have been married for coming on eight years, and we got married in the first place because it was the only shot we could think of that would give us a chance to live in the same place. I'm--the institutions of romance and the way we talk about marriage have never made any sense to me, and although it's just frankly easier (especially with the legal shit in the middle of things) to use the terminology and the cultural associations that come with marriage, it always felt to me like a deliberate choice in my relationship to take this path, to try this thing, to choose to define a marriage in the sense of a hopefully-permanent commitment to one another.

It's been a hell of a ride, and there are a lot of things that have been rough along the way. But... at the end of the day, there is always the understanding that we have chosen to try: to figure out how to meet one another where we are, to shape ourselves around one another as we develop as adults, to walk forward together and meet an exhausting, unpredictable world as a united front. Every time, we choose to try to reach out.

I don't want to say that queer relationships are a panacea for these problems because bluntly that would be a total lie. Frankly, some of my fuckups flow in the same pattern of errors you see from cis men; gender will not save you from the essential mistakes of being fucked up and human together. But the essence of choice tags at my thoughts: every thing I have ever done with my relationships, I did it knowing that there were consequences for the way I chose to invest my efforts, and I did it thinking about how I intended to strive for the best end goal I could think of.

I wonder if we could impart the freedom to deliberately choose what you want and the absence of terror to new generations of teenagers, or whether young people on the cusp of adulthood are always faced with the choice of fumbling blindly but hopefully into unmarked territory or trying to pour themselves along a well-worn riverbed and hope that enough internal deliberate pressure can cut new ground instead of flowing into the old grooves.
posted by sciatrix at 3:45 PM on December 30, 2021 [22 favorites]

For further discussion of the other essay Filipovic is responding to, see this post a couple up the page: there are just marriages, made up of people
posted by zamboni at 4:01 PM on December 30, 2021

That was a great essay by Filipovic.

One of the things I thought at the end of the Honor Jones essay was, there’s probably a similar marriage that gets better when they move to NYC and take up birds nesting but don’t divorce. But I’m more than okay with not having enough detail to have any opinion on her marriage.

There’s a lot of writing that seems cruel to the children as well as the spouse. Unless you’re sure that the kids will have no loyalty to your spouse, which is… a gamble.
posted by clew at 4:40 PM on December 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Thank you, MonkeyToes; that's the writing (of all three of the mentioned writings) I really needed to read.

Jones's piece is of a piece with a lot of writing about divorce. It reminds me of the lyrical Dear Sugar column about going just because you feel the need to go. The common motifs: feeling stifled, excess emotional and household labor, divorce, reconstruction (often painful and laborious) afterward, and finally a brighter future.

That... hasn't been my pattern, at all. I wasn't stifled in my marriage the way Jones and so many other women have been; I pursued the work I wanted to pursue, and I chose not to have children. I didn't feel any grass-is-greenerness at any point. I was just -- tired of his bullshit, tired of being blamed for anything in his life that was not perfect, tired of quietly despising him, tired of all of it.

I haven't changed much since the divorce. I'm still me, you know? I do my work and love my cats and live in my home and read and watch and listen to the same kind of stuff I did before. I haven't had any great freedom epiphanies, or any epiphanies at all really. I shed a lot of emotional burdens, but funny thing about them -- they creep back onto you. Loneliness is a weight of its own, I'm finding.

As for a brighter future... no, I don't really see one of those for myself. I don't think I'm the kind of person who gets those. Maybe the grass-is-greener phase is necessary to impel motion toward someplace with greener grass. I don't know.

I don't know what the point I'm trying to make here is, except possibly that that's the point -- finding a narrative throughline around divorce, especially for an entire culture, is fraught and dangerous and there will likely always be those of us who don't fit it.
posted by humbug at 4:45 PM on December 30, 2021 [14 favorites]

Suggested pairing, which comments on Jones's piece: The Straights Are Not Ok. Dispatches from the confines of heterosexual marriage (Jill Filipovic, Substack):

I appreciated reading this, thank you for giving the link here.

The Honor Jones piece was kind of sad to read (unsurprisingly, for an article about divorce), but it is beautifully written and I hope she is happier now and is creating the best life for herself at this time.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:51 PM on December 30, 2021

I liked Jones's piece. I recognize the urge to renovate, repair, and restore as displacement; maybe I can't make my family care about brokenness, but if I notice enough, and act enough, and become the engine of holding it together, maybe I can salvage something? Maybe they'll start to care? I told this to my oldest friend and she just laughed and laughed.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:22 PM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I went through a bit of a renovate-restore-repair-craft phase as my divorce was wrapping up. "Displacement" sounds like as good an explanation as any!

MonkeyToes, for what it's worth, I care even if they don't.

And I liked Jones's piece too. I just couldn't identify with it, which is fine, she's writing about herself and not me.
posted by humbug at 6:37 PM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

"Suggested pairing, which comments on Jones's piece: The Straights Are Not Ok. Dispatches from the confines of heterosexual marriage (Jill Filipovic, Substack)"

Thanks for this stand alone link. I haven't and probably won't read the Jones piece...but for some reason, Jill's piece really resonates for single white male. Not sure why though I found myself substituting "friendship" for "marriage"
posted by goalyeehah at 7:35 PM on December 30, 2021

I just wanted to say that I posted in the other thread on marriage but I really appreciated both this essay and the one linked in the comments!
posted by warriorqueen at 6:38 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Filipovic piece is really good.
posted by praemunire at 8:46 AM on December 31, 2021

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