A recent message on the marquee as you travel across the overpass in Brownwood toward the Family Resource Center advertises “Marriage Classes.” A more current and followup message advertises that if you take the class you get “A $60 Discount on Your Marriage License Fee.”
Certainly with first marriages failing at a 60 percent clip and second marriages at a 70 percent clip it’s apparent that people aren’t learning enough at some point in the process and that some kind of classes may indeed be warranted. Apparently third, fourth and fifth marriages succeed at higher rates because by that time you are too broke, too old or terminally ill so divorce happens by natural causes… as in “ ’til death do us part.”
Now, I’ve never been to marriage class and am included in the majority in all of the statistics cited above. Perhaps I needed marriage classes but formal education in marriage is kind of like education in everything else. It’s best learned on the street and through first-hand experience. In that light there are several points that can be made in the context of marriage education. Though they are offered from first- hand experience, they are not meant to disrespect denigration of formal marriage classes.
First and most importantly, get to know a good divorce lawyer. There’s a 60 percent chance you will need them. If they do a good job for you, keep them on retainer. There’s a 70 percent chance that you will need them again. You will be happier in life if you have a good divorce lawyer as opposed to a bad one. You may have heard the joke about why good divorce lawyers are so expensive. It’s because they are worth it.
Secondly, if your partner says you are not “spiritual enough” consult with your divorce lawyer. You are about to need them. This is not a situation that is negotiable or can be altered. It means they have found someone who defines spirituality differently than you do. Your marriage is on life support and needs to be put out of its misery at this stage.
Third, if your partner says they are not “having enough fun” in the marriage, consult with your divorce lawyer. You are about to need them.
Fourth, and related to No. 3, if your bank account is overdrawn and your credit card balances are in the outer stratosphere, consult your divorce lawyer. It means that your partner is having a lot of fun. You just aren’t part of it anymore. “Fun” in this context is expensive and usually costs more money than you make or can afford. It usually means they have found somebody that can afford it.
Fifth, if your partner says they are “not happy any more,” they probably aren’t. Let them go. Everybody is entitled to happiness regardless of how they might define it. Remember something about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Sixth, if your partner tells you that “you are impossible to live with” consult your divorce lawyer. Though you may indeed be impossible, it means that they do not want to live with you anymore and have made the decision that they are not.
In summary, successful marriages are hard work and getting a divorce is easier than trying to keep a sinking marriage afloat. Easy is the American way as it pertains to marital salvation.
By the way, if you want your kids to get into a line of work that will provide a very good standard of living, send them to law school and tell to go into the divorce business. There’s a better than 60 percent chance that everybody that gets married will be a prospective client.
John Kliebenstein is circulation and operations manager of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Tuesdays. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.