But who wants to marry this?

The Washington Times Weekly - - International Perspective -

CNN.com re­cently posted on­line the full text of an ar­ti­cle that orig­i­nally ran in Oprah mag­a­zine in May and ap­par­ently cre­ated quite a buzz in cer­tain cir­cles. Writ­ten by New York Times re­porter Ellen Tien, it was ti­tled “She’s hap­pily mar­ried, dream­ing of di­vorce” but could have just as eas­ily been la­beled “What it’s like to be mar­ried to a fe­male New York Times re­porter”:

I con­tem­plate di­vorce ev­ery day. It tugs on my sleeve each morn­ing when my hus­band, Will, greets me in his chip­per, smug morn­ing-per­son voice, be­cause af­ter 16 years of wak­ing up to­gether, he still hasn't quite pieced out that I'm not vi­able be­fore 10 a.m.

A Mid-Wife Cri­sis may be a sim­mer­ing un­der­belly of re­sent­ment.

It puts two hands on my fore­head and mer­ci­lessly presses when he blurts out the ex­act wrong thing (“Are you ex­cited for your sur­prise party next Tues­day?”); when he lies to avoid the fight (“What do you mean I left our apart­ment door open? I never even knew our apart­ment had a door!”); when he but­tons his shirt and jacket into the wrong but­ton­holes, col­lars and seams un­aligned like a vertical game of domi­noes, with pos­si­bly a scrap of shirt­tail zip­pered into his fly.

[Thank good­ness it’s a happy mar­riage, eh?]

We are ar­guably, to my wide-ish range of ref­er­ence, Everycou­ple.

Nor is Will the Very Bad Man that I've made him out to be. Rather, like ev­ery other male I know, he is merely a Mod­er­ately Bad Man, the kind of man who will leave his long­boat-sized shoes di­rectly in the flow of our home's traf­fic so that one day I’ll trip over them, break my neck, and die, af­ter which he’ll walk home from the morgue, grief-stricken, take off his shoes with a heavy heart, and leave them in the cen­ter of the room un­til they kill the house­keeper. Ev­ery­man.

[For­tu­nately for her, to­day’s lib­er­ated gals have ways to es­cape such hellish con­di­tions]:

Still, be­neath the thump­ingly or­di­nary na­ture of our mar­riage — Every­mar­riage — runs the si­lent chy­ron of di­vorce. It’s the scar­let con­cept, the closely held con­tem­pla­tion of nearly ev­ery woman I know who has chil­dren who have been out of di­a­pers for at least two years and a hus­band who won't be in them for an­other 30. It's the se­cret reverie of a de­mo­graphic that freely dis­cusses post­par­tum de­pres­sion, eat­ing dis­or­ders, and Am­bien de­pen­dence (of­ten all in the same sen­tence) with the plain can­dor of golden brown toast. In a let-it-all-hang-out cul­ture, this is the given that stays tucked in.

[Wel­come to an­other nov­elty in Amer­i­can cul­ture: the mid­dleaged fe­male with an urge to roam]:

[W]e, with our 21st-cen­tury ac­cess to youth cap­tured in a gleam­ing Ma­son jar with a pinked square of ging­ham rub­ber-banded over the top, we are still vis­ually tol­er­a­ble if not down­right ir­re­sistible when we’re 30 or 35 or 40. [. . .]

We are also tick­ets with jobs and dis­pos­able in­come. If we jump ship now, we’re still at­trac­tive prospects who may have an­other shot at hap­pi­ness. There’s just that tricky wicket of de­ter­min­ing whether eter­nal com­fort re­sides in the tried-and-true or whether the un­tried will be truer.

Our moth­ers, so old too young, be­lieved that mar­riage was the best they could get. We, the chil­dren of moth­ers who set­tled (or were pun­ished for not set­tling), won­der: Is this as good as it gets?

[Ellen knows what the prob­lem is here, and it’s cer­tainly not her]:

Maybe one day, mar­riage — like the hu­man ap­pen­dix, male nip­ples, or your pinky toes — will be­come a ves­ti­gial struc­ture that will, in a mil­len­nium or two, be ob­so­lete. Our great-great-great­grand­chil­dren's grand­chil­dren will ask each other in pass­ing, "Re­mem­ber mar­riage? What was its func­tion again? Was it that mal­adap­tive or­gan that in­ter­mit­tently pro­duced gas­troin­testi­nal anti­gens and some­times got so in­flamed that it painfully erupted?"

Yes. Yes it was.

— “She's hap­pily mar­ried, dream­ing of di­vorce,” from Oprah.com, posted Aug. 26 at cnn.com

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