It’s an unfortunate fact that almost all of us have that work “friend” or casual acquaintance or sometimes even a family member that’s gotta be a total Debbie Downer when it comes to marriage. You’re in a state of bliss with a ring on your finger and a head full of forever and someone’s gotta be the person to roll their eyes and ask why because, “Half of marriages end in divorce!”
Seriously? Wow. WOW.
If you’re anything like me, the first time someone dropped that little nugget of “wisdom” you had to shake yourself from the daydream of pouncing on that person like a lion and ripping out fistfuls of hair before you could respond. While I’ve certainly never acted on any thoughts of violence, I do tend to handle these situations with a large dose of biting sarcasm.
“Actually, divorce rates are down because people can’t afford it. If we’ve got the cash when we start to hate each other, things can’t be all bad!”
Yes, I’ve actually said that and the words tasted like vinegar coming out of my mouth. Some people will tell you sarcasm is the lowest form of wit; I speak it as a fluent second language, but that was a little heavy-handed, even for me. We’re not entering this marriage with divorce in mind and certainly not anticipating a time that we will grow to hate each other, but I’ve always been a fan of the ad ridiculum (otherwise known as the appeal to ridicule) argument in specific situations and this seemed to fit.
It’s terribly likely that someone will, at some point, drop this little factoid on you. A year into my engagement I’ve heard it plenty. Suck the power out of the words as fast as you can. You can argue about the validity and health of your relationship, but it’s important to remember that anyone who tells you this is likely coming from a place of bitterness. Speaking to the goodness of your relationship will likely just end in the person accusing you of thinking you’re better than everyone else and both parties are going to walk away mad. Making it a joke and making yourself the butt of it denies them the satisfaction of hurting you. I’ve used more benign quips like, “Well, I’m really sure I’m right about this, but we all know I’ve been wrong before! *shrug*” “Nah, he knows he’s stuck with me for life. It’s basically a threat at this point.” “Oh, we agree we’ll stay together for the pets.” Just try not to attack back. It never ends well.
The fight over who keeps the cat would be brutal.
The whole “half of marriages” thing is one of those largely untrue ideas that a lot of people believe and continue to misrepresent, but sometimes people can get even more personal. My fiancé is a law enforcement officer and that comes with a whole bunch of ugly statistics, true or not. There is a fairly common idea that police and law enforcement officers have a divorce rate of upwards of 70%. The truth is, there are very few scientific studies to support or deny these claims. Now, my favorite way to argue is to pluck a contradictory statistic from the encyclopedia of my mind that can be immediately verified with a Google search producing a .gov or .edu source (Thanks, journalism school!), but there just isn’t a lot verified data on the subject.
What is widely known to be true is that marriages in which at least one partner has a high-stress job or one that commands a lot of traveling and separation do tend to dissolve more frequently than average. You may not be marrying a cop, but a lot of you are marrying teachers, coaches, military personnel, pilots, journalists or any other profession that’s considered “high stress” (which, let’s be honest, is most jobs). When bitter people throw out statistics that are more personal than societal, it stings.
This is when I feel like it’s totally appropriate to turn the statement back on them. Put them on the spot. “So do you have a problem with cops, marriage or me?” is my favorite. I’ve run into this situation three times in the last year and every single person has stuttered and responded with some form of, “I’m just saying … ” Cool, dude. Conversation over. You’re dismissed.
We’ve all got a lot that’s going to ruffle our feathers during the whole wedding planning adventure. Don’t give negative people the power. Your relationship is the sole property of you and your partner and no one will ever understand it like the two of you! Divorce isn’t the end of everything. Some of the people I love most in the world have been divorced. Have an open dialogue with your partner about what your vows mean, what you feel is grounds for a divorce and what your two will do together. Looking to the future can keep you from getting blindsided by the present.