Love is Like a Greyhound Bus: How to Talk to a Divorced Person
LISTEN, EVEN IF IT'S CRAZY TALK
I have been pondering relationships lately. Hell, when am I not pondering relationships? I recall having dinner with a friend several years ago, only a couple of years after my divorce. During the dinner, my friend and I talked about my divorce, as when you've only been divorced for two years, you tend to want to discuss your divorce rather frequently, you know, to vent. Okay, this behavior may not hold true for everyone, but it certainly did for me.
During our conversation, my friend was thoughtful enough to point out how stupid my ex-husband was, a good start when having a conversation with a divorced person. In case you have any friends or family members who are divorced, and especially if said people are recently divorced, let me give you a couple of pointers about how you should talk to a divorced person when the subject of his or her ex-spouse comes up.
First, please be sure to comment on the sheer lunacy of the ex-spouse for giving up a marriage to such a splendid specimen of a person in the form of your friend. Even if you know that maybe part of the reason for the divorce was your friend's creepy Marie Osmond doll collection, you should still emphasize the fault of your friend's ex-spouse in the matter.
The second thing you need to know about talking to a divorced person is that you should nod and agree with whatever terrible thing your friend says about his or her former partner, even if you know your friend is exaggerating. At a time when your friend or loved one may find doing regular things like bathing, taking out the trash, and remembering to wear pants difficult, it is really just good for his or her soul for you to do so!
For example, I have a screened-in porch that leaked for quite some time. The reason it started leaking was when I was still married, a huge branch fell on top of the porch and tore a hole in the roof. My then-husband and I had to replace the roof, which we did ourselves, and it was not fun.
The roof was made of really long, corrugated metal sheets that spanned the porch's whole length. Now, when we replaced the roof, we could not find sheets that were long enough to span the entire length of the porch, so we used several smaller sheets to cover it. But, after the roof was replaced, the porch leaked even more than it had previously leaked because the water ran down from where the sheets came together!
Well, my ex-husband just left it like that and did not attempt any additional repairs, and I have the mechanical abilities of a two-month-old baby, so I didn't dare try to fix it myself. Plus, we couldn't ask my dad, who is a real Mr. Fix-It, to help, because that would have been a blow to my ex-husband's ego. My ex-husband even said he didn't want to ask for help, so yay! Leaky porch for two years!
The porch continued leaking up until I kicked my ex-husband out, and we got divorced. My dad examined the porch after my ex-husband was gone. He determined that he (the ex) had actually put the corrugated metal sheets on upside down, which caused water to pool on top of the roof, which then caused the leaking. I was delighted! I could now blame my leaking, moss-covered porch on someone who I already got great glee out of hating. But, after my dad fixed the error, the leaking continued.
Then, my dad, who actually does have an engineering degree, reverse-engineered the whole porch construction and discovered the porch was built with the roof sloping at the wrong angle, causing the water to pool on the roof, and, thus, the leaking. Now, even though my dad definitively decided that my ex-husband's roof repair was not the cause of the leaking, and my dad fixed the porch and made the leaking go away, my dad still had the decency to blame the whole debacle on my ex-husband because, you know, that's just what you do for family!
Another thing you should know about talking to a divorced person is that we tend to be pretty jaded about love. For example, we may not believe in things like love at first sight, or that two people are destined to be together, or even that two people can successfully choose a program to watch on Netflix together that they will both enjoy.
I, for example, do not believe that there is one true love for every person. I think that love is a lot like a Greyhound bus: If you catch one bus, and then discover that it has a drinking problem, or that it likes to date other women behind your back — well, you can just go back and hang out at the bus station, and eventually, another decent bus will probably come by, although while you sit at the bus station it may smell kind of like urine or something, but them's the breaks, I suppose. You may have to wait a while to catch a bus that doesn't pick its nose or have herpes, but there is no shortage of decent buses in the universe if you are willing to wait long enough.
Since I got divorced, I have also developed an idea about love you may find your divorced friends sharing, and that is that love is a real crapshoot. I used to believe that how long the members of a couple knew each other before getting engaged or married really made a difference in said couple's long-term success, but now experience has taught me otherwise. I have known couples who dated for a month before getting married who have gone on to have blissful, fifty-year relationships, and couples who dated for ten years before tying the knot who fizzled out after only six months of holy matrimony. Basically, time is not always a determinant of a couple's happiness or compatibility.
Because love, like boxes of chocolates, features a variety of surprising possibilities, and you really, truly, never know what you are going to get. Although the length of time two people know each other before tying the knot doesn't always seem to determine the success of their union, I would still recommend giving it time before taking the plunge because, you know, that's much more sensible than running off to Vegas after a week. You don't want to marry someone you barely know and then discover they do things you can't stand, like watch Mama's Family or bathe only once a month. In my opinion, the determining factors of a relationship's success are compatibility and communication.
As far as life being like a box of chocolate goes, I mean, you could think you have a really delicious dark-chocolate-covered coconut confection. You put it up to your nose and smell it, and it kind of doesn't smell like coconut, but then again, it kind of does. And you're not sure if you should eat it, because what you really want is coconut, and it might not be coconut. But you already have the damn thing almost in your mouth so, with slight reservations, you bite into it — and you discover that it doesn't have coconut inside after all, but it actually contains that sickly-sweet strawberry mess that is usually inside the last chocolate left in the box because NO SANE PERSON WANTED IT! However, because of its skill at camouflage, it got you to pick it over even the one that had almonds inside! Yeah, love is kind of like that.
After reading my thoughts on love, you may have the idea that I am bitter, or that I am not open to love, or even that I hate men. I can assure you that none of these is the case. Nearly ten years after my divorce became final, I have come to terms with what happened in my marriage. I understand how my lack of confidence and belief in myself contributed to creating the fiasco that was my marriage, and especially how my ex-husband's lack of belief in not being a jackass was a significant determining factor. Despite his shortcomings and lack of remorse for certain behaviors, I think I have actually forgiven him.
However, if you talk to me about him, then, for the sake of decency, please be sure to blame it all on him. In the meantime, I will hang out at the bus station, and, should the right bus happen to come by at the right time, I might even consider getting on it, as long as it doesn't smell like urine.