May 5th, 2008
Every 4 years, 6 in some places, you have to renew your drivers license – despite the fact that if you drive often enough, it’s pretty hard to all of a sudden forget what the hell you’re supposed to do behind the wheel. We have to renew a license for a skill that’s fairly ingrained in most of us.
So why don’t we have to renew marriage licenses – especially when it’s not so much a skill that might be lost, but the desire to be married in the first damn place? I think the divorce rate would go WAY down if, every 10 years, you both had to sign a piece of paper declaring that yep, you still wanted to keep at it for another 10 years with the same person. This could be why Doug Christie’s wife has a new wedding ceremony every year – to be sure they’re still in it to win it. Although my real take on it is that poor Doug doesn’t have a say in the matter and would get beat down by his wife if he voiced any objection. (If you don’t get the Doug Christie reference, click here.)
When I was growing up, I used to declare that I did not want to get married. I was scared of the banality of it, the passion quickly melting into dull routine – or worse, nothingness. Now, being married and a mom myself, I certainly understand that it is hard to maintain that initial level of heightened excitement. Your breath no longer quickens when your spouse walks into the room, you don’t get chills at the thought of your last sexual encounter. It’s like The Matrix – first time around it was new, breathtaking, groundbreaking cinema, but by the 100th viewing, you’ve seen this puppy before and it’s just Not That Exciting.
Besides, you’ve got kids that force you to wear clothes in the house – real clothes, not flimsy whispers of see-through stuff – and that have the audacity to crawl into your bed at ungodly hours of the morning, hours when, in days of yore, you would either have been Sleeping After A Great Night or Not Sleeping Due To A Great Morning, if you catch my drift. So even when you want to Recapture The Magic, a little voice magically demands your attention at just that moment, with something along the lines of “I see fireflies in my room and I’m scared,” and so much for that, let’s try again next week.
So, you drop into routine. A routine as predictable as what you eat on Saturday mornings or chauffeuring the kids to soccer on Wednesdays or who takes out the garbage in the evenings. And this goes on and on and on and on – until one day, one of you wakes up.
Note that I said one of you, because that’s usually the case; it’s rare that 2 people reach the same epiphany at the same time. So what happens if your spouse is apparently okay with the Dead Zone you now live in? And what does that even mean? Because it can mean one of 2 things: either the spouse hasn’t yet experienced their own awakening, in which case you’re hard pressed to get them to understand the urgency of the problem until you’re walking out the door, or they crossed that bridge a while back, did not communicate with you about it, and moved on privately, no longer interested in fixing the problem.
At least, not with you.
Whether your spouse is Not Yet Awake or Woke Up A Long Time Ago, you have a problem.
Perhaps just knowing that a partner could opt out within a few years would be enough to keep some people on their toes. It might inspire a few more Bouquets For No Reason, or Candlelight Dinners, or Notes in the Lunchbox. It might inspire folks to buy the Kama Sutra and Try Some New Stuff. And then, if all of that failed, at least those people who tried to work on it and found that they were on different pages – or reading entirely different books altogether – could reclaim their lives and their passion and some spontaneity, somehow, somewhere, without going through the ugly drama of the D-word.
Although, now that I think of it, at least drama is a form of excitement…