When my ex walked out the door after having an affair, one of the first questions I asked myself was, "Am I still desirable?" This thought may come across as shallow, but I couldn't help questioning some of the basics during a crisis. It reminded me of an Amy Schumer skit I recently re-watched that was just hysterical. In "12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer," a group of male jurors in a nod to the famous film are deliberating over the pressing issue of whether or not Amy is hot enough to appear on television—basic cable, that is. The answer is yes ... though only after a drawn out and contentions argument.
Celebrities continue to capture the divorce spotlight as a slew of high profile splits—Depp v. Heard, followed by Pitt v. Jolie—inspire massive amounts of tweets, articles and digital discussions. Famous married people going their separate ways is not surprising, but a new trend has emerged. Whether it is Gwyneth Paltrow, Amber Heard or Angelina Jolie, the ladies have taken charge. They—not their famous and seemingly powerful men—are announcing splits; defining and even labeling the process; and ensuring that settlements and proper behavior are followed in the aftermath.
Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, is a thriller about a husband, Nick, who is under suspicion for murder following the disappearance of his wife, Amy. On the surface, it would appear that the demise of the once happy couple would seem to be a warning against marriage. However, ignoring the craziness of the events and suspending moral judgements on the characters for a moment, the issues and resolutions offered by the movie do illustrate how spouses can retain or regain their relationship mojo.
I walked up three steps to the bimah—the raised area in the front of the synagogue—toward my youngest daughter. Her father approached from the other direction. During my son's bar mitzvah four years ago, we had made this short trip together, holding hands. Besides a high school graduation, this was the first significant event that fully and publicly demonstrated the dramatic changes to my family since the end of our marriage. Later, I returned to my seat to sit between my other daughter and significant other, close to my sisters and parents. My ex settled in next to his new wife and step children; his parents were a row behind him. For some of the out-of-town guests, the scene must have been a bit startling. For me, it had become the new normal. I had learned that while my family had changed in unexpected ways, it was still strong.
A close friend who had been re-married for almost six years recently told me that he and his second wife were calling it quits. "Oh well," he said while shrugging. "It just didn't work out. I wasn't ready for that kind of commitment." Like anything about divorce and relationships, generalizations are tough because couples and their expectations, experiences, and needs are so different. That said, the demise of this union reminded me about the terrible odds of a second marriage—lower than the coin flip of the first. Should his outcome discourage those of us who want to re-marry? While there is no denying the numbers look bleak, I don’t think we should give up hope. We should, however, look at the common sources of problems in second marriages and confront them prior to reciting another round of vows.