Marriage and Divorce in NYC

10unhitched-master675The New York Times has a series called Unhitched, which tells the stories of long time couples that get divorced.  I read one this morning about Alec and Cynthia, and it really bothered me and pointed out some things I have noticed in the city.

The article is about a couple that meet when she auditions for his rock band, fall in love, have a kid and then divorce.  They seem genuinely affectionate, but there are some obvious flaws from the start.  It is important to mention that she is a Neurosurgeon, while he is a freelance television producer who raises their child and runs the household.

The thing is, they “never shared finances or disclosed their earnings to each other”.  This line is delivered as though they were informing you one of their chosen political parties, as if it were one possible choice of how to conduct a marriage.  It’s not.   They split financial obligations, and he ends up $30,000 in credit card debt because he has been hiding the fact that he makes so much less than her and is ashamed to admit it.

He moves out, goes through financial counseling, and gets out of debt, and they try counseling but it didn’t work because “He felt she did not appreciate his contributions to parenting and household management [, and she found] a lot of his habits about money, food, and messiness really hard to live with”

They finally get divorced.  After making little progress with a divorce mediator, they have a breakthrough when Alec agrees to forgo a financial settlement.   Make sure you absorbed what that meant.  He was married to a neurosurgeon for 23 years, raised their child, and got nothing in the divorce.

The wife moves to Florida and lives out the wild years she missed while in med school, and the daughter goes with her, but comes back to NYC to live with Dad after a year.

This story is disgusting!  I can see printing it if you are intending to show how badly the husband was treated, but it is clear from the writing style that the author believes the underlying beliefs and behaviors in the story are normal, and you get the sense that no one is at fault.  If the roles were reversed, the doctor would be called a horrendous misogynist!  While the opposite would have to apply to her, as a misandrist, truly neither is apt because what is in view is not hatred, but a complete lack of respect for her husband, and a lack of respect from both of them for the institution of Marriage.

Note these particularly shattering closing statements from Alec:

“Divorce is normal, but it doesn’t have to be as hurtful as it often is.”

How pathetic is that!  This guy was married to a neurosurgeon for 23 years, while he worked part time and raised their daughter, all the while ashamed that he can’t contribute financially as she can, and then she divorces him and he gets nothing.  Worse, he now appears to see in retrospect that this was a wise choice, as it was less hurtful for him.  That’s battered spouse syndrome.  He has been beat down for so long about not being a better financial contributor that he’s proud of how he finally conceded his lack of worth and flagellated himself by denouncing his lawful right to half of whatever is earned during the marriage.

The first issue in view is double standard people have on gender roles.  The general thrust of the attitude is that a man should be ashamed of his masculinity, while all the while had better be maintaining it.  While most women in the city would tell you that’s not true, most would be less attracted to a man that couldn’t change a tire, even though they may not admit it.  In this post-feminist environment, where women have been raised to intentionally flaunt learning traditional female skills and abilities, how can they hold men to a different standard?  I think this incompatible double think may be part of the reason for the large number of perpetually single women in the city.

The second issue in view is the incomplete understanding of what Marriage is.  Marriage is when two people become one, new entity.  You don’t have to be of a person of faith to see that.  It’s not a social status, it’s not a relationship step, it’s a complete change to your life.  Whenever you get married but do not throw your lot in together, you’re just playing house.  Play with your own lives as you will, but children need a home.

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