Updated: Mar 2
On January 5, 1643, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony was still heartily suckling from her bullying mother’s engorged breasts, a woman named Anne Clarke made history.
She was by far the rightful party in the first recorded divorce in the New World. Of course, Anne’s decree absolute was preceded by a long and illustrious existence for the divorce process, which had been in common use as early as 600 BCE and probably before. So, it was nothing new, but lent itself well as a fine introduction to this article.
Whether for abandonment (in the case of the devilish, Mr. Clarke, who refused to rejoin his loving wife, preferring to stay with his goody lover) or on the grounds of not wanting your child to grow up thinking they are an alien called a Thetan trapped in a human body, it happens every day.
And, when I say everyday, I mean every day. Between three and seven thousand times a day in the US alone, and probably more after three months of being locked down with someone you marginally like.
As around half of all first marriages end in divorce, marriage is not in any way the soup du jour, far more the mulligatawny of a lost empire.
Marriage, of course, has much of its roots in religion. Religious folk like Tom Elliff, pastor of the Oklahoma City-area First Baptist Church, know this, although his stated logic when dealing with the challenge of failing marriages is somewhat dubious.
He says that …
“if 3,571 divorces take place each day, that means on that same day, 3,571 marriages are starting out without what they needed to last, and 3,571 marriages are getting in trouble, and 3,571 couples are deciding to go to a lawyer, and 3,571 couples are in an estranged position and 3,571 couples are also going to divorce court that day. So you can take that 3,571 figure and multiply that by five or 10 to get the number of families that are in trouble.”
Now, divide the number you first thought of by your mother-in-law's age.
From a psychoanalytical perspective, many look at personal reasons for this shift in not wanting to stay married. They might offer one of those lists of top reasons that include a little infidelity, some poor communication, a change in life priorities (porn first, bathroom clean-up second), lack of commitment, sexual problems (like addiction to porn), addictions (like addiction to porn), failed expectations (because of addiction to porn) or physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
While most married people get divorced, it doesn’t have to have a negative outcome. In fact, divorce appears to inspire creativity for many.
Albert Gore seemed to warm to the situation rather quickly. Rupert Murdoch didn’t lose sleep after his divorce (then again, does the Devil sleep?). Nelson Mandela, having been pardoned for his sparklingly-successful career as a nasty terrorist, went on to the highest office in his country. Spielberg still made movies, Diamond still wrote songs, Ford didn’t stop whipping people into shape, and Gibson didn’t lose his love for gefilte fish.
Madonna still struck poses, Costner’s chin grew (it didn’t really), Woods & Norman still spoilt walks with their hard little balls, and McCartney never lost his touch, which is somewhat of a shame because the replacement touch could only have been better.
And in entertainment, divorce is kind of funny. As art mirrors life, the once-staple married TV couple has been replaced with the friendly, divorced couple scenario. In fact, it’s divorce that’s now becoming a little passé. It is now pretty much the norm to get divorced and still do well.
And so our reaction to a divorce announcement is changing. No longer does divorce carry the mark of defect, disgrace, fault, onus, stain or stigma. We can leave that to the upstanding pedophiles of the church. No longer do we grin and bear it or show a stiff upper lip, and no longer ‘mustn’t-we-grumble’, as we slide into the great dismal swamp of forced interactivity.
People like Nadine Schweigert found a whole new solution to this seesaw of marital commitment, by marrying herself. She exchanged rings with her inner groom, and made one good optimally-lengthed speech. She now shares a home with herself that is just tidy enough without being overly cleansed or too messy to think. She closes the toilet seat after use so that the millions of bacteria (including those Covid-19 ones) can't resurface, she doesn’t pour too much vodka in her martinis, knows exactly how to pause a Netflix show and the soundtrack at the same time, and can pleasure herself how, when, and only when she