Sometimes you read a study and say “duh!” That was pretty much my reaction to a British Study just released that suggests that when men help with the childcare and housework, couples are less likely to get divorced. Gee, that’s a shock. You mean women don’t love soloing on the toilet cleaning?
Meanwhile the divorce rate in the US and Canada has fallen, due to the recession. Tough times simultaneously put a lot of pressure on a marriage and also create economic incentives to stay together. This can be both good and bad – no one wants to see people in violent, abusive or destructive marriages staying together for economic reasons. At the same time, my guess is that less mobility in partnership is likely to be a result of harder times and this isn’t wholly negative either. But it seems worth asking, if lightly, what is the upside?
I get asked for marital advice surprisingly often, but I don’t claim to really have any. I look on Eric as a case of getting far better than I deserve, and frankly, I have no idea how one duplicates this. But given that I’ve had a spate of requests for advice to the lovelorn, I offer you this humorous version of “why stick it out.” It goes without saying that I am not here trying to offer advice to people with real and serious marriage problems – but presumably you are all smart enough to know that you should talk to someone else about that stuff anyway.
I wrote this years ago for a friend, momentarily frustrated with her spouse who demanded on reason why she should put up with him through the apocalypse, when he’s so annoying now. I gave her 12 reasons for sticking it out in tough times, for better and worse .
1. Gives you something sustainable to do during those rolling blackouts (sex and fighting would probably both fit the bill, actually.)
2. You can’t afford dinner and a movie, much less romantic gifts for your mistress or new sweetie anyway. You might as well stay with someone whose expectations have already been lowered by exposure to the real you.
3. Lowered economic expectations mean that even if you are no longer motivated by staying at home for the sake of the children, you still need to stick it out for the sake of the pets – kibble is getting pricey.
4. Loving partners will often pretend interest in things like the rate of oil extraction in the Ghawar and the carbon impact of driving vs. flying when others begin yawning and wander off.
5. Romantic evenings with spouse may already consist of offering to be the one to cook dinner *and* do the dishes.
6. Newly met potential partners are often turned off by birth control discussions that require low budget home vasectomies or or craft-your-own condoms.
7. The only new people you are meeting are collection agents in Bangalore, and you can’t afford the flight.
8. Huddling together for warmth with a damp spouse who has just come
out of the barn is marginally more pleasant than huddling with a damp dog who has just come from the same place. Usually.
9. Since he’s already spent tons of money restoring his bike or collecting the complete back episodes of some anime series, you can legitimately tell him to piss off when he complains about you buying bulk toilet paper and dried beans.
10. When your unbearable sister in law and her three obnoxious children move in because of the crisis, the only person who will put up with them is the person who knows that if he/she doesn’t, his/her demanding, drunken parents will be out on their behinds. Moreover, the absence of cable can be much compensated for by lengthy discussions of whose relatives are more horrifying.
11. Spouses/partners who truly love you, may come to find your true hair color/hairy legs (face?back?)/chronic allergic snoring/tendency towards simultaneous wrinkles and zits endearing after you can no longer locate or afford products intended to conceal them. One hopes.
12. Once the peak comes, you know that you’ll have each other forever, though thick and thin, good times and bad, through all the great exigencies of life. After all, divorce is too expensive and you are conserving ammo.