Happiness, marriage, divorce

by Grace aka costofcollege

Feeling romantic on this Valentine’s Day?  Here’s a theory that would support trying to stay in a marriage that is not horrible.

We have a script in our heads about what divorce does, much of it lifted from the divorce revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Two people meet … they fall in love … they develop irreconcilable differences, or they grow apart, and must split so that at least one of the parties can develop into their truest, highest self.

But more recent research suggests a very different truth about happiness. As Daniel Gilbert argues in the brilliant book “Stumbling on Happiness,” unless our circumstances are truly unbearable, our brains will seek to find their natural level of happiness, like floodwater evening out across a plain. Whatever we are stuck with … whatever we commit to … we will find ways to make it work — and we will be just as happy with it as we would have been with any other outcome.

Under this theory, all other forces being equal, those who avoid divorce end up with the same long-term level of happiness that they would have had post-divorce … and they skip the short-term financial and emotional pains of separation.

What do you think?

And have you seen evidence of this trend?

Study: More Older Adults Prefer ‘Living Apart Together’

Among the comments, this one made me laugh:

My friends and I all want to be married on the national guard plan. 1 weekend a month. Two weeks in the summer.

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119 thoughts on “Happiness, marriage, divorce

  1. Whatever we are stuck with … whatever we commit to … we will find ways to make it work — and we will be just as happy with it as we would have been with any other outcome.

    How common is it for people to get divorced when at least one party doesn’t already have something going on on the side? Or does the study imply that you’ll end up just as happy or miserable as you were with spouse #1 as spouse #2.

  2. Eh, IDK. I guess it’s all in how you define “horrible” and “happy.” E.g., if DH cheated, things would never be the same. I could see us staying together, and I could see me winding up “happy,” but it would be with a different, more distant relationship with DH, where I just decided that the companionship and shared child-rearing was worth the loss of intimacy and trust. I think everyone has different aspects of their personality, and no two people match up exactly, so in any relationship some enjoyable things get emphasized and some get overlooked. So if you stay in a great marriage, you can continue to develop the ones you both enjoy at the cost of other ones only you enjoy; if you stay together but need more emotional space, you can then devote more time to the ones you might have put on the back-burner and gain more enjoyment from that; or if you divorce, you can throw yourselves into the interests that you put aside for X years and be happy with that.

    All that said, I don’t think that “horrible” is necessarily limited to yelling and screaming. Some people are very poor fits, or are just too immature to manage a healthy relationship, or have addiction issues, or spending issues, or a gazillion other issues that they are not willing/able to address. I do believe people with those kinds of significant issues are frequently better off divorcing. I mean, my mom and dad are both great people, but *boy* were they not meant for each other — and they certainly not ready to be married and have a kid at 19 and 20 while they were both still in college. In fact, it took my dad three tries, and he didn’t get it right until he was 50. So if my mom and dad hadn’t called it quits early on, my mom would never have had a successful 38-year marriage to my stepdad, and I would have had a very, very different example of what marriage looks like.

  3. “Or does the study imply that you’ll end up just as happy or miserable as you were with spouse #1 as spouse #2.”

    I do suspect that’s a big part of it. Divorce always takes two. If you bail on one relationship and then jump into another without addressing whatever you contributed to the first failure, you’re likely to repeat the same mistakes the second time around. So how many people get say 5 years into their second marriage, realize it isn’t any better than the first time around, and decide that this just must be the best they can hope for and decide to just stay put and hunker down?

  4. Well, I completely disagree, but I don’t expect that will surprise anyone.

    I wonder if Dan Gilbert has ever divorced someone. I find this is one realm where people who have no experience at all tend to make all kinds of proclamations about how things are. And all sorts of assumptions and generalizations and snide comments and judgments. See, e.g, Rhett above.

  5. And all sorts of assumptions and generalizations and snide comments and judgments. See, e.g, Rhett above.

    I didn’t mean it to come across that way at all! I meant that often one party doesn’t have the choice of plowing through as the other party has met someone new and is moving on.

  6. Rhett – ah, my mistake. Thanks for correcting.

    I will confess when this subject comes up here, I prepare myself for the snide/judgy comments.

    Or the assurances among the group that people in second marriages surely are just as miserable as they were in firsts. Which assurances also seem judgy to me (among other things).

  7. My husband is happier with me than he would ever have been with his first wife. Obviously that’s a self-serving opinion, but it’s true anyway.

    If he got hit by a truck, I can see being reluctant to share housing with someone else. I’m far less willing to compromise than I was when I was young. I want things my way. I’m resigned to the compromises I made 24 years ago when we married. But I’m not making any new ones for any new guy. So having separate households doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

  8. I am DH’s second wife. He and his first wife married right out of college. She left him after about 3-4 years of marriage. It later turned out that she was suffering from depression (she didn’t realize it at the time). She’s been married at least once more since DH and subsequently divorced again. I sometimes wonder if she regrets leaving DH as it turns out her issues had more to do with depression. She’s a very nice person – just got married too young and wasn’t in a position to recognize her depression at the time. But her loss was definitely my gain. I feel very lucky to have met and then married DH.

  9. I’ve read that your chances of divorce increase substantially if you’ve been married before. Why is that? Is it mainly the stress associated with second marriages or that these participants are just not the “marrying kind” or have personal issues/characteristics? Or other reasons?

  10. “If he got hit by a truck, I can see being reluctant to share housing with someone else. I’m far less willing to compromise than I was when I was young. I want things my way. I’m resigned to the compromises I made 24 years ago when we married. But I’m not making any new ones for any new guy. So having separate households doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.”

    Yeah, I can see this. I’m a bit younger, but I still don’t know that I would necessarily want to marry again if something happened. I guess it’s hard to say without having lived through it.

    At this point, my close friends/family members who have gotten divorced have been really unsurprising. In the sense that no one really thought that it was a good idea for the two people involved to be married to each other to begin with. Cheating has been prominent, but really just a symptom of other issues. I wonder if that will change as we get older/marriages get longer before breaking up.

  11. Not related to marriage, but it does seem that “our brains will seek to find their natural level of happiness”. Some people are “naturally” curmudgeons and some pollyannas, and there’s everything in between.

  12. “Not related to marriage, but it does seem that “our brains will seek to find their natural level of happiness”. Some people are “naturally” curmudgeons and some pollyannas, and there’s everything in between.”

    ITA

  13. Not related to marriage, but it does seem that “our brains will seek to find their natural level of happiness”. Some people are “naturally” curmudgeons and some pollyannas, and there’s everything in between.

    That’s what those lottery studies show, right? If you win the lottery you’re happier for a year or so, but eventually you get back to your “natural happiness level”.

  14. People change and we don’t always change with them. When we married, things were ours, but over time they became yours and mine. I decided to divorce when it became clear that if I wanted things – house, children, their college education, etc. – that I was going to have to fund and manage all of those things on my own, because his money was to do what he wanted with and I had no say. We didn’t have children (thankfully), but if we had, it would have been no different than being a single parent. I was ready to broach the subject when he suggested we separate. A few months later I found out it was due to another woman (he still doesn’t know I know). I filed for divorce and apparently about that time she dumped him and he all of a sudden wanted to work it out. Needless to say we didn’t.

    Happier in my current relationship? Definitely. Does it have it’s ups and downs? Absolutely. Is it perfect? Of course not. All of 2015 and most of 2016, I have dealth with my parents’ caregiving, deaths and trying to wrap up their estates. I have not gotten the support I had hoped I would and that still rankles. Because I was so consumed with the day-to-day stuff with my parents, I wasn’t very available to my DDs. I didn’t have the bandwidth to realize how much that was affecting them in part because their dad wasn’t filling in any of that gap. The past 6 months my relationships with my DDs has definitely improved.

  15. I think we do have a sort of happiness set point and tend to move back toward it regardless of our circumstances, but I don’t think that’s an argument for staying married to someone who does not want to stop having an affair/using drugs/gambling, etc. In my corner of the world, those are the usual causes of divorce.

  16. Our kids are at the age where we are starting to see some parents divorce. In every case I know of, infidelity has been the driving factor.

  17. infidelity has been the driving factor.

    Was that the root cause? It certainly can be in many cases.

  18. Rhett – ITA with “sometimes one party doesn’t have a choice” – in the 2 divorces that we’ve seen recently among family and friends, one person had already decided to divorce and wasn’t about to let the other person change his mind. But unlike Lark, these weren’t driven by infidelity – one was lack of sex and the other was just getting fed up after 30 years.

  19. Also, anecdotally from our divorce group, the men tend to get remarried right away after divorce, and the women tend to stay single for longer.

  20. “I’ve read that your chances of divorce increase substantially if you’ve been married before. Why is that?”

    IMO:

    1. Certain people don’t believe in divorce. By definition, these people inhabit the “married once” sphere and not the “married 2 or more times” sphere, thus skewing the results.

    2. Per my response to Rhett above, marriages break up for reasons, and usually both partners contribute to that reason. Some percentage of people believe the problems were solely with their spouse and so are likely to repeat these same mistakes in their subsequent marriage. (My dad falls into this category, which is why it took until his third time to get it right).

  21. Sometimes you really do have one person whose natural state would be a happy stable relationship married to someone whose natural state is unhappiness. That will be an unhappy marriage, but if they divorce, it doesn’t mean both of them will be unhappy in subsequent marriages.

    Also, re infidelity as the reason: you certainly see cases where infidelity was the immediate cause of the actual divorce, but the cause of the infidelity was a loveless / sexless marriage where one spouse eventually met and fell in love with someone else. Even people who are monogamous by nature are going to have their hearts open to new love if their relationship with their spouse has been basically over for a while. I think you may want to dig a little deeper to distinguish between that and the type of infidelity where one spouse thought they were happy together and had no idea anything was wrong — maybe the serial cheater scenario.

  22. I agree with LfB that some people believe divorce is tolerable never/only in exceptional circumstances and some people are more focused on their own life happiness.

    In my BIL’s collective four divorces, infidelity, partying and a lack of shared vision for what life should be all played roles.

    When people become disabled/develop a chronic disease, divorce becomes more common, because often the healthy spouse believes (probably correctly) that (s)he will have a happier life without being tied to someone with chronic health issues.

    The marriage market is completely different for men vs. women with age, IMHO. I was surprised and pleased to get married the first time and think it’s unlikely I would remarry if I were widowed or divorced.

    I know several married couples with grown children who live apart, at least partly for professional/family reasons. This seems most common among people of Chinese heritage.

    I think there is a far greater range of options for marital closeness when a couple doesn’t have children who require daily parenting.

  23. In our sphere, infidelity was not the cause. In one case, the husband decided to quit his job without another one lined up. Announced he needed a break. That break lasted 9 months, by which time they were getting into debt and he had not taken any action to find a job or limit his spending. After the wife suggested counseling for them both, he began verbally abusing her – both in person and via text while she was at work. After she went to couseling, his behavior escalated and she left. He was (still is?) likely depressed. But, you can’t make someone seek help if they are opposed.

    In the other case, the husband had a second job that was initially a paid hobby that required travel, which was covered in addition to a small pay check. Once they had kids, his participation in the second job ramped up (his choice – even he says so) when he had previously agreed to keep the same or lower the level of participation. At the end, he was working 50 hours a week at the first job, and was gone from the time he got off on Friday until about midnight every Sunday. She was tired of his absence. In addition, his “extra” pay wasn’t covering the extra child care she needed to keep her job given that it required her to work most Sundays. What drove him to value this second job so much, only he knows.

  24. Austin, both of your stories are a good illustration of the argument that, even though divorce isn’t something children aspire to do as a grown-up, the availability of no-fault divorce still makes for greater happiness for more people.

  25. Quite a few colleagues with college aged kids are divorcing.
    Lots of people in the home country are uninterested in marriage and are letting the years tick by, so after a certain point there is less pressure to marry. There have been quite a few divorces early on in marriages. What’s rarer is people divorcing with young kids. DH’s cousin got divorced recently with elementary school kids, not too common in people that I know.

  26. Lots of people in the home country are uninterested in marriage and are letting the years tick by, so after a certain point there is less pressure to marry.

    I’ve known people to use that technique to get their first-generation-immigrant parents to the point where, when an engagement is finally announced, they’re no longer complaining that the spouse isn’t the approved ethnicity, they’re just grateful that the spouse is at least respectably employed.

  27. I have to mention the role of FB in a strained marriage. Both DH and I have cousins who see covertly warring and making up. The rest of the family would follow their FB posts to see if it was make up or break up that day.

  28. I’m seeing more married couples forgo having children. My aunt has 4 kids and only 2 grand kids (both from the same child).

  29. I agree with Houston that more married couples I know forgo having children. I thought this observation was a result of moving from a conservative, working-class town to an educated area with lots of professional women, so I thought cause was bias in who I knew/know. Maybe not.

  30. infidelity has been the driving factor.

    Was that the root cause?

    Infidelity often starts when the husband doesn’t share equally in child-raising, and misses intimate time with his wife. I wouldn’t say that infidelity is the root cause then.

  31. Infidelity in my case was definitely the result of other issues, and the extreme infrequency of “marital relations” was not among them. We scheduled trips out of the country together two times, once for three weeks and once for eight. He canceled at the last minute both times. I had no intention of cheating–have never done that in any other relationship–but both times that’s what happened. I don’t think he ever knew. What happened over there stayed over there, and I really tried to save the relationship, including a major career change.

  32. S&M – I think the “root cause” of infidelity is hard to pinpoint. What you see as the “other issues” or “root cause” depends on whether you were the “cheater” or not. As you said, one may feel a lack of attention, but the other one might feel that without help there is no time to give that attention. Who is right? Maybe both, maybe neither. But, I think if the other issues fester so they result in infidelity the problems are no longer small or easily resolved.

  33. The one couple we were good friends with that split up due to infidelity, it was hers, not his. She wanted to remain married, but he couldn’t bring himself to forgive her.

    The other couple we were friendly but not as close with, it was his infidelity, and same thing – he wanted to resolve their issues but she did not want to.

  34. I’ve had people be surprised that I’m OK with my Dad remarrying so soon, and my thought is, “I want him to be happy. He did years of hard work caring for my Mom, he doesn’t have that many years left himself, and if they’re happy, I’m happy.”

    I had one colleague whose husband was never satisfied in a job and they eventually divorced because she thought constantly moving was too disruptive to her and their children. He continued to move around and she worked and raised the kids. This, along with situations like Austinmom’s, is what I perceive as a typical reason for divorce among college-educated people. She was a caring, responsible person and would never view infidelity as the solution to her marital challenge.

  35. She was a caring, responsible person and would never view infidelity as the solution to her marital challenge.

    But WCE, I don’t think those of us with happy and mutually supportive marriages are in the best position to judge whether those in miserable marriages turn to infidelity because they’re not caring and responsible or they view it as the solution to marital challenges.

  36. HM – I didn’t read WCE’s comment the same way. I thought she was saying that incompatible views of frequently moving due to job changes vs. stablity for raising kids was the reason for the divorce. These incompatible views on ___(pick a topic) vs. infidelity is the underlying reason.

  37. ITA with Risley.

    As for Older Adults living apart, a huge amount of that is financial. Medicaid spend down is only one aspect. A secondary reason is that the elderly (70 plus) men who want an 55-60 year old new wife or live in are often looking for a nurse and a purse, or at least a housekeeper and cook. On our travels we see the couples who have lives apart, often one in a nice location and the other near work or grandchildren, but travel together frequently. Late life care is not going to be part of the deal. A 60 year old guy can get a 40 year old or younger wife if he wants one.

    WCE’s Dad is an old school guy. When I was young, the widowers got remarried often within 6 months to a year. They needed someone to take care of their household. There were lots of nice widows and divorcees around who needed the financial security, many of whom were from the same community and so were known quantities if not long ago high school crushes. People that age certainly had sex but not casually, so marriage was more of a requirement.

  38. “But WCE, I don’t think those of us with happy and mutually supportive marriages are in the best position to judge whether those in miserable marriages turn to infidelity because they’re not caring and responsible or they view it as the solution to marital challenges.”

    OTOH, it does go along with WCE’s statement above that “some people believe divorce is tolerable never/only in exceptional circumstances and some people are more focused on their own life happiness.” (Which was ascribed to LfB but is not, I believe, what LfB said or intended).

    WCE, can you imagine NO situation in which someone who is faithful, caring, responsible, and NOT “focused on their own life happiness” might get divorced? Because I don’t even have to use my imagination to come up with such a person.

    I know this is more vocal than I usually get on here. I think what you’re not getting is that these kinds of judgments are more hurtful than you might realize.

  39. I used to dislike Valentines Day when I was single. It’s funny how it is now just a regular day of meetings, carpools and Hebrew tutor. My husband is at a work dinner with some out of town colleagues. It’s become more about a special dessert for my daughter vs. a day to dread when it felt like everyone was married.

    I’ve mentioned several times that I waited to get married because I wanted to avoid a divorce. My parents were too young when they got married, but it was ugly when they split. The impact was very long lasting on my brain, and even now it’s hard to believe that they’re so friendly.

    They were both much happier in the relationships/marriages that they entered after 35. Marriage at 20 is a real gamble…in my opinion. The brain isn’t even fully developed until a few years later so some decision making about marriage should wait until people are more experienced and wiser.

  40. We had very good friends divorce this past year and it was a complete shock to us and my BIL/SIL have been on the verge of divorce for the past year. In both instances there were some internet shenanigans that the guys were partaking in. With our friends, the husband wanted to work it out but the wife just couldn’t forgive him and it looks like my BIL/SIL may go the same way (although they may drag it out for a few more years for financial reasons). Our friends are now constantly worrying about money because they’re now maintaining two households plus three private school tuitions. Our friends still hang out together all of the time (at least for now) and it’s been a little odd but they seem okay with it. It seems like the husband regrets what he did in a “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” kind of way.

  41. You never know when your marriage might implode, so best not to get too cocky about things. You can only be sure that the marriage has lasted once one of the spouses is dead.

  42. internet shenanigans

    Is that what the kids call fucking these days?

    I can only assume it extended beyond the internet.

  43. I don’t travel for business but DH has mentioned inappropriate behavior from getting drunk to carrying on relationships with colleagues while people have been on business trips. DH’s former manager mentioned HR issues. At first I wasn’t aware but this is what she was talking about. I didn’t realize how prevalent it was. Rhett, I think had mentioned it too.

  44. inappropriate behavior from getting drunk

    On the road getting drunk is hardly considered inappropriate.

  45. Risley, I’m sorry my comment came across in a hurtful way. I understand (and agree with, as if that matters) my colleague’s decision but I failed to communicate that. I think the decision to divorce (and devote yourself to parenting) is very different from the decision to commit infidelity (and presumably devote yourself to a new partner at the expense of your kids).

    I hadn’t really considered the one-night stand on a business trip flavor of infidelity and she (conservative Indian) likely wouldn’t either. Both her husband and his brother worked here, so the community is just too small for one-night stands on a business trip to ever be a good idea.

    I think my marriage is pretty typical, but when BIL got divorced (he is now back with his third ex-wife but not planning to remarry), his complaints sounded very much like the complaints Mr WCE and I could make about each other in terms of priority. We’ve ignored each other because he has had multiweek overseas trips, I’ve had a parent get sick and die and we had a new baby. In a lifelong marriage, some times will be suboptimal.

  46. “would never view infidelity as the solution to her marital challenge.”
    Really, do you think people come to the conclusion that finding someone on the side is a solution after carefully thinking through the options? I think it’s much more of an emotional response than a logical one.

    Risley, I’ve been divorced too. My exhusband and his friends agreed that it was his fault, but of course I still felt horrible and like a failure for months. I’m sorry that comments today are so hurtful to you. For me, it’s long enough ago that it somehow doesn’t feel like a part of me, but I totally get how you could feel stabbed a thousand times over by this conversation.

    Meme, you make my grandfather, who was left with a toddler and an infant and never remarried, sound remarkable for his time. He could do it because his parents bought a house in town and they all moved into it. When they died, his in-laws moved in. When they died, the children were in 7th and 4th grades. The girl was deemed old enough to cook. When she married, her husband moved in with her, and that’s where they raised their 4 children. She cooked dinner in that house every day until she died. Such a different world!

  47. Austin, you are way more equivocal and kind hearted than I am. To me, both parents need to be involved in raising the child and if the guy can’t take it and cheats, I think it’s all on him. If the mom of little ones is too tired for sex, he needs to alleviate that, or just wait it out as long as she is. She is doing without just as much as he is.

  48. The comment about assumptions about lasting marriages and death is so true because you don’t know where the explosives are buried until one explodes.

    We weathered some tough times with health crisis with family members and work stuff that created a lot of tension and strain in our relationship. We thought it was the worst until that renovation last year of the bathrooms. I didn’t even know my husband was capable of saying some of the things he said that summer. We were both so angry, never slept, and we weren’t on our best behavior since DD was away at camp.

    My contractor eventually apologized to us because he knew what he and his staff created, but our relationship needed time to heal after that mess.

  49. “Lots of people in the home country are uninterested in marriage and are letting the years tick by, so after a certain point there is less pressure to marry.”

    “I’ve known people to use that technique to get their first-generation-immigrant parents to the point where, when an engagement is finally announced, they’re no longer complaining that the spouse isn’t the approved ethnicity, they’re just grateful that the spouse is at least respectably employed.”

    Honolulu — this was me, 100%. Up through my young adulthood, OMG was I under pressure to marry with in the ethnic community. My mother once threatened to disown me (seriously) when she found out that I was dating an American guy of east-Asian descent. As time went on, though, the requirements dropped away. DH was neither of our ethnicity nor our religion, but my mohter ended up being just fine with that, if it meant that I wasn’t going to be an old maid. (I married when I was 35.)

  50. S&M, I can only guess that you keep repeating this scenario from personal experience. There are many reasons why people have affairs. Husbands who feel rejected by wives who are too tired from childcare to have sex are just one subset of them. Women have affairs. People without kids have affairs. Etc.

    IMO, people have affairs for one of two reasons: 1. They are jerks. 2. There are problems in the relationship and the affair is a result of them, not the cause of them.

  51. My mom did the together but living apart thing with her boyfriend. She was in her 60s and he was about 15 years older when they met. They lived in the same town but kept their separate houses. It worked well for them until she died.

    My dad and his wife have been living across the country from each other for years. He wants to divorce and she doesn’t, and he hasn’t pushed for it in a while.

  52. Many of the young people in the home country that I mentioned like their living situation/space. A few live with their parents, the rest have bought their own condos or live with a room mate. There are not too many living together situations because of the culture. If you are seen out and about with a partner the marriage question comes in, so people try to be discreet. Also the better late than never situation that others have described comes into play, so families are hopeful instead of trying to set an immediate wedding date.
    There has certainly been a change in that families have come to accept individual decisions instead of forcing marriage on everyone.

  53. DD, “keep repeating”? Sorry if I’m irritating you by saying something I’ve said before; jeesh. To answer your query, I don’t think my son’s father was unfaithful during that time, don’t really care because of other stuff going on. But most of the affairs I’ve heard about are as I described–new kid, one parent giving her all, the other pissed that he isn’t getting his attention and too immature to see that he helped create the “problem” from which they now both suffer. So he does something short term to deal with his frustration, and then may have long/term to consequences to deal with. And yes, it pretty much boils down to what you said.

  54. “the community is just too small for one-night stands on a business trip to ever be a good idea.”

    How would the folks back find out what their townmate did while away on business?

  55. Someone else’s marriage is inevitably something of a black box. My wife and I are on both on our second marriages. I am much happier. She says she is also. I appreciate this marriage more because of the end of my first.

  56. “Someone else’s marriage is inevitably something of a black box.”

    So true. And even when one spouse shares details you’re only getting part of the story.

  57. “Someone else’s marriage is inevitably something of a black box.”

    Hell, sometimes my own marriage is something of a black box — I mean, I think things are going fine, but you never know anything 100%. There are times that DH will be more withdrawn, and I start wondering if he’s unhappy, and then two weeks later I discover he was PO’d about something at work and it didn’t have anything to do with me/us at all.

    FWIW, in case anything I wrote earlier wasn’t clear, I am strongly in the “divorce is ok” camp. If my mom and dad had not split, boy would they both have made miserable parents — my earliest childhood memory is them arguing in the living room when they thought I was asleep at (my mom denies it happened because they tried so hard to never argue in front of me, but cheap apartment walls are thin). And I wouldn’t have had my awesome stepdad (a/k/a “second father”), or my step-sibs, or my half-bros (because Lord knows the two of them would never have procreated again).

    I am also strongly in the “I’m not going to judge someone else’s decision either way, because you never know what is really going on in someone’s marriage.” Before I married — even after I married — I was 100% sure that if he cheated, I was out; that was my line in the sand. After I had kids, I realized I couldn’t be that simplistic about it, and that there might be circumstances in which I would have to do my damndest to try to find a way to forgive him. Life is not black and white, things don’t always go as planned, people are human and imperfect. All you can do is love each other as best you can, trust your partner, and trust yourself to be able to manage any bad stuff that comes your way.

  58. “I used to dislike Valentines Day when I was single. It’s funny how it is now just a regular day of meetings, carpools and Hebrew tutor.”

    I was laughing about this last night, because the one thing I do for DH on V-Day is to cook him a lovely meal and send the kids to eat in the other room, so I defrosted a big hunk of a tenderloin roast to make filet mignon. And then DS’s basketball league scheduled his first playoff game for 6 PM on Valentine’s Day. ‘Sok, because the meat hadn’t defrosted yet anyway. DH’s exciting Valentine’s Day dinner ended up being a banana on the way out the door. :-)

  59. Shoot, and I forgot the punchline: DS’s next basketball game is next week on my birthday. 0-for-2 this month.

  60. S&M, you presented it as that is the reason for every affair. That’s what I found frustrating. Maybe you didn’t mean it that way, but that’s how it sounded.

  61. Laura, +1 to your 6:55 post. I guess I’ve always been cynical. DH and I were friends with a couple who were about 10 years younger than we. When they got married in their 20s, the wife said at dinner one evening that cheating was unforgivable. If her new husband ever cheated, he’d be out the door. DH and I kind of rolled our eyes but just said, “Uh huh”. So fast forward 10 years and one baby, and guess who has the affair? That’s right, the wife. The couple is divorced now, the wife married her boyfriend (who was also married with kids), they’ve had another kid, so it’s very Yours, Mine, and Ours. I know several stories that are variations along those lines.

    Life is long, relationships change, people are stupid. Whatcha gonna do?

  62. LfB – I am laughing as I read about the saga of the basketball league. They sure know when to schedule games ;-).
    For us spring soccer will come soon enough. I hate when it rains, they try not to cancel but if they do the make up game days with their back to back games are not fun.

  63. When I got married the second time, we were both older and less likely to wander, but also older and less absolutist in our worldview. I told him that while I expected faithfulness in marriage, the only deal breaker was if he stopped taking his anti depression meds. He did it once without telling me, things were just awful between us as he deteriorated, and he finally fessed up. I was icy, matter of fact, reminded him of his promise, and gave him one second chance. Luckily he did not put it to the test, and now I am the medication manager so it is not an issue.

  64. LfB, I think you and WCE are saying the same thing about your marriages. Interesting how it leads you to opposite conclusions on (other people’s) divorce. I always figured I was in the “marry one and done” camp; until I had a husband go through major depression who refused to do anything about it until he decided he just had to go curl up at home and he was out. There was nothing I could do about it–he left in Feb and said that there was no reason to join him in May (after the semester–I was teaching), so I suddenly found myself in a place I had never expected to see.

    I’m still strongly in favor of working it out, and believe marriage is for better and worse, sickness and health, etc, but there are times I agree divorce is the best solution. A friend got married in a traditional way–decided she was ready, put the word out, and suitors came from all over. She made her choice and moved to London to marry him. He turned into a monster. Among other things, when she was in bed with cramps, he brought in a Koran and told her that if she believed that book she’d have sex when her husband wanted it. She told him that if he’d read the book he was waving around, he’d know that isn’t what it says. She went to the imam and got a divorce in short order. That was nearly 20 years ago. She met someone in the immediate aftermath of the divorce. The youngest of their 4 children is middle school age. In other words, another example of someone who got divorced once but did not go on to a chain of other failed marriages.

    Another version of the comment several people have repeated is from Wendell Barry–sufficient knowledge is impossible. No one knows enough to marry, except widowers, and even they don’t have enough information to remarry.

  65. “you presented it as that is the reason for every affair. ”

    Pahaha. Nope. People do all kinds of stuff for all kinds of reasons, but I do think that is a pattern that is repeated fairly often

  66. For us, when our first child was born it was a huge adjustment. We were prepared in all the ways one thinks you should be prepared but dealing with schedule change, lack of sleep, colic etc was not great. We were used to working long hours but then our free time was spent going to the movies, concerts, games, restaurants, taking trips. We still could do some of that but it was definitely a life style change and major adjustment to our marriage.

  67. I think one of my parents would have killed the other if divorce wasn’t an option. I believe divorce gave all of us a second chance because the fighting when they were together was unbearable.

    They were both in long relationships that are so much healthier after they divorced. I just still can’t believe how friendly they are now.

  68. Our major adjustment came during our first year of marriage. Tougher than we expected, getting used to each other. First child was a piece of cake, as we were both always on the same page with kids. Each marriage is different.

  69. Rhett – on the internet shenanigans – apparently there are things you can do online that may not be physically cheating but are not befitting of someone who is married.

    My parents have been divorced since I was ten. My father has never remarried but has been with his “girlfriend” for probably close to twenty years and she is wonderful. My mother remarried once and it was a disaster (guy was a jerk) and has been with her “boyfriend” for about 8 years (which is also a bit of a disaster). Dh’s parents divorced when he was around 13 and his mom reconnected with a high school boyfriend the year after and they’ve been married for 25 years. I agree, life has twists and turns and you never know what’s going to happen. I do have to say that divorce seems rare in our circle which is why our friends splitting up was probably a bit shocking (even though my own parents are divorced and a lot of my friends’ parents were divorced growing up).

  70. Rhett – on the internet shenanigans – apparently there are things you can do online that may not be physically cheating but are not befitting of someone who is married.

    And they aren’t just saying that to save face with “internet shenanigans” being somewhat less embarrassing to the women than the dance with no pants.

  71. Rhett – no idea but honestly if it were me I think I’d prefer to be actually cheated on than what my BIL was doing (it just seems really pathetic).

  72. Off topic, following up on SIL’s stepson with the 2.6 GPA. He was accepted to Xavier with a $56,000 academic scholarship. He was rejected from Ohio University.

  73. “Life is long, relationships change, people are stupid. Whatcha gonna do?”

    ITA.

    For my earlier comment, I just meant that the people close to me who have gotten divorced – these were couples that on their wedding day, you probably would have bet on them not making it 10 years. Already cheating on each other while engaged, horribly mismatched life plans, rushed marriages with lots of knock down fights – obvious problems. The kind where the MOB says, “Well, this is who she’s chosen to marry, so now we have to hold our tongues.” So I don’t feel like I yet have much insight into the life is long, relationships change type divorces.

    I will say that I thought my brother was rash for getting married at 21, but they’ve been married almost 15 years now and they seem to be a very content, stable, well-matched couple, so I was totally wrong there.

    I do know that my marriage 10 years in has had plenty of ups & downs, and I certainly know that no one really knows what it is like from the outside, especially without the glaring issues that are obvious to everyone. I laughed in recognition at LFB’s talking about having a week where you are sure your partner is miserable with your marriage only to find out that it has to do with work or a sibling issue or something totally unrelated. Been there many times, probably will again. And have been on the flip side too.

    For us, the absolute worst time in our relationship was the first 2 months when we moved in together, before we were engaged. That was when we were the closest to breaking up – massive fights, just a huge adjustment to go from being two individuals to being a pair. Maybe we had both been independent for too long for that to be an easy adjustment, I don’t know. We were late 20’s and had both been living alone for awhile. Having a baby was hard on each of us personally, but not on our relationship to each other as much.

  74. DD – honestly can’t believe he was rejected from Ohio U. The $$ from Xavier seems in line with what I’ve heard from kids DS goes to school with (from DS or from their parents) and Jesuit colleges generally (exception from personal experience: Fordham).

  75. “Rhett – no idea but honestly if it were me I think I’d prefer to be actually cheated on than what my BIL was doing (it just seems really pathetic).”

    I’d much rather have my DH have a drunken one night stand with some random person on a business trip than carry on a heart-spilling emotional affair with his HS girlfriend. I think a lot of women would. The first seems much less indicative of major marital problems to me somehow.

  76. Rhett – $56k over 4 years, so a $14k/year discount.

    Ohhhhhhh, that makes sense. I’ve never heard anyone refer to it that way. Is that contractual? I’ve typically seen a decent discount up front that declines every year as the student becomes less likely to transfer due to a price hike.

  77. heart-spilling emotional affair with his HS girlfriend

    That happened with a couple we know — suspect the wife would have preferred the husband had an impulsive one-night stand.

  78. I was going to say that being cheated on makes me feel like my private parts are exposed, so if my partner was going to do something, I’d prefer internet shenanigans. Then I read Ivy’s comment. I was assuming an “all-nude model” who will send you a pair of used, signed panties, not a relationship. Glad I don’t have to actually make that choice!

  79. Denver Dad — Does this kid attend a Jesuit high school? From what I know Jesuit prep schools have a lot of pull with Jesuit colleges. I attended a recruiting meeting at a Jesuit prep school where I was basically assured my kid would get into one of their network colleges if he enrolled.

    A 2.6 GPA falls within the lower 15% for Xavier incoming freshmen and within the lower 10% for Ohio, so I’m not surprised he was rejected at Ohio.

  80. Plus, do you really know if any of the scholarship was need based? It can be tricky knowing how much is need and how much is merit.

  81. “$56k over 4 years, so a $14k/year discount.
    Ohhhhhhh, that makes sense. I’ve never heard anyone refer to it that way. ”

    IME, that’s not typical. If it’s a dollar amount, I’ve usually heard it on a per year basis, e.g., BU offers $20k/year to NMF. Merit aid is also often offered in terms of tuition, e.g., half tuition, full tuition, which is usually better, as that takes into account tuition inflation.

    My understanding is that need-based aid typically is recalculated annually, based on a new FAFSA and, if applicable, CSS Profile, submission.

    “Is that contractual?”

    Great question, and one that I need to keep in mind if DS seriously considers a school offering a scholarship.

    From what I’ve heard, schools that offer merit-based aid over 4 years have renewal criteria, typically including maintaining a minimum GPA. Over in CC there are a lot of cautions expressed about merit aid with very tough maintenance criteria, e.g., a pretty high GPA in engineering.

  82. “these were couples that on their wedding day, you probably would have bet on them not making it 10 years.”

    That comment brought this to mind:

  83. ““$56k over 4 years, so a $14k/year discount.
    Ohhhhhhh, that makes sense. I’ve never heard anyone refer to it that way. ”

    IME, that’s not typical. ”

    Every one of my kid’s acceptances has included a similar phrase (the $56k over 4 years) and pretty clearly spells out what’s needed to keep it (GPA, satisfactory progress). I think they want the shock and awe value…Jane got an $80,000 scholarship!

  84. A little late to this post, but I *just* figured up that an acquaintance from a few years back apparently split up from her husband a year ago. It took pix of her with a new beau for me to peruse her and his FB to find that the last reference either made to the other was in late 2015, a comment that he loves his customers and they love his wife. I don’t think I saw it at the time, and if I did, I completely didn’t catch the circumlocution in it. Once I figured that out, I could reinterpret the shots her hiking with the kids last summer–lots of strong, tough woman, kind of poses. I feel bad that I didn’t know, and especially bad that I asked her if his relatives were OK when there was trouble in his hometown.

  85. “Every one of my kid’s acceptances has included a similar phrase (the $56k over 4 years)”

    Unfortunately, DS’ first acceptance came with no such phrase. IOW, full pay.

    The second came with an invitation to interview for a full tuition scholarship. If expressed in $/4 year terms, it would be somewhere around $210k to $220k, depending on how much tuition goes up each year.

  86. Denver Dad — Does this kid attend a Jesuit high school? From what I know Jesuit prep schools have a lot of pull with Jesuit colleges. I attended a recruiting meeting at a Jesuit prep school where I was basically assured my kid would get into one of their network colleges if he enrolled.

    He goes to their local public HS in a UMC/UC community. There is definitely no need-based aid.

  87. these were couples that on their wedding day, you probably would have bet on them not making it 10 years.

    We have a friend we’ve known for about 15 years. When we first met her husband, we thought it was pretty clear he was a putz. They had a child, got divorced a few years later, and now he’s making her life miserable with constant court hearings and such. He refuses to work so she is having to pay child support, and he keeps pushing for more custody and mandatory visitation. It’s all I can do not to yell at her “how the heck did you not see what a jerk he is when it was so clear to everyone else”, but I don’t.

  88. I don’t know much about Xavier except from the NCAA tournament. Why would they go to so much trouble to recruit this kid, AND offer him merit aid if he hasn’t demonstrated that he is a strong student. What am I missing?

    Also,…some good news. My local friend with the great kid that was worried about an acceptance to her second choice school found out today that she was admitted to the university. She is so excited, and I am happy that all of her hard work paid off. I would never want to attend…too much snow, but it is a great school in Fred’s part of the state.

  89. Xavier University’s average financial aid package for incoming freshmen is $27,061. Approximately 100.0% of incoming students receive some form of financial assistance, the majority of which is in the form of scholarships and grants

  90. So Xavier has a list price for full pay foreign students or students on academic probation, and a demand pricing or discounted price model for everyone else.

  91. Fred, your city/infrastructure may know how to deal, but that doesn’t mean that I could deal with it. I am barely dealing with the little that we received this year. I hate the white stuff, wintry mix, winds…all of it. I think it would put me over the edge each winter if I had to deal with lake effect snow.

  92. “But Lauren, we know how to deal with the 100″/yr we get.”

    Fred – I just aw a FB post that at least 3 of the top five places for highest snowfall in the US are in NY. PA and Colorado finished out the list. Pretty sure your area was No. 1.

  93. Lauren, if you hate it so much, any thought to moving somewhere you don’t need to deal with it?

  94. Lauren, they say that U of F and FSU change off which gets the most applications depending on basketball. That seems strange to me, but at least they are both big state schools in the same state. But to pick a private school, especially in another state, because of March Madness really does sound like madness to me.

  95. SM, my guess is that a lot of kids wouldn’t look into some schools if they hadn’t first heard of them through March Madness.

    I’m guessing Davidson is a good example of this.

  96. i don’t want to move away until I am older because I love the other three seasons. Also, I still enjoy the city and feel like it is a part of my DNA. I’m not ready to give up living here until it becomes more difficult with walking on ice and dealing with son removal etc. My burb is close to the city so we tend to get less snow than the northern burbs and counties. There are some years with nor’easters or blizzards, but most of the winters are just average snow/wintry mix/ice.

    I just don’t want to live in the parts of the state that get 80, 90, 100 or even 100+ inches per year of snow due to the lake effect from one of the Great Lakes. That is a very big difference than living near NYC where the snow gets cleared quickly and I am generally out within a day of any major storm.

  97. Hell, Finn, the same goes for my alma mater even now which has won exactly 1 national championship in basketball since 1976!

  98. S & M, I didnt mean to imply that people pick schools due to March Madness, but they might hear about a school and check it out. It gives brand exposure to smaller schools. I think Xavier is a good example of this because It’s a small school without a lot of national exposure.

  99. Yes, this goes back to our previous discussion about how sports teams can lift the profile of colleges. Schools like Xavier, Villanova, Butler, Gonzaga, etc. have a lot of national recognition due to the success of their basketball teams.

  100. Lauren, you sound like a snowbird in the making.

    I’m hoping to be a bit of the inverse in the making, spending time in snow country during winters in retirement. Maybe I’ll be winter neighbors with LfB.

  101. Maybe I’ll be winter neighbors with LfB

    Or me! I have a pleasant house in Denver. Trade ya for the winter. Only a few hours to Steamboat.

  102. DD and Ivy +1

    When George Mason made it to the Final Four in 2006 they had to scramble to film their allotted free spot highlighting their school that was shown during the final four segments. Most people didn’t know who they were and they didn’t have this media ready to go. Below are the increases they experienced the next year and this brand awareness continues today. I have a cousin who goes there. Sports can raise the profile of a school significantly.

    Admissions
    Freshmen applications have increased by 20 percent.
    The number and size of campus tours for prospective students and parents nearly tripled.

    Alumni Relations
    Mason alumni who registered with the online alumni directory have grown by more than 52 percent.
    There is a 24 percent increase in alumni e-mail addresses now registered on record.
    There is a 25 percent increase in active alumni.

    Development/Fundraising
    Mason received more than $23.2 million in new gifts and pledge payments compared to $19.6 million the previous year.
    Donations to athletic programs increased by 25 percent.
    General scholarship support nearly tripled.
    Unrestricted gifts to the university increased by nearly 45 percent.

  103. Lauren, glad you got that I was trying to be funny. I certainly have no room to complain about anyone else’s typos!

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