A louder than normal discussion with my spousal unit lead me to believe that the leading cause of divorce is June and Ward Cleaver. I know this is a controversial statement. There have been plenty of studies that say that it’s finances, children, religion, politics, health, and infidelity etc. that are the reasons two adults just can’t make it work. Sure, those things are rough when you can’t agree with your life partner and you have to figure out how to navigate the murky waters. Those things have been around for ages though and the increase in the rate of divorce is a pretty modern thing.
For years, the American population have been tuning in to watch perfect families have perfect lives and solve any minor issue in a half hour. June Cleaver always had dinner on the table, the home was always clean, and there was always a smile on her face. She spent her days managing her home, doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning, while dressed to the nines in heels and pearls. Ward always made it home in time for dinner, he was always so pleasant to his family after a day at the office, and when he needed to talk to the kids, he was always so even tempered and such a great listener. June and Ward never screamed at each other behind closed doors while the kids listened in the other room. They never had to argue over how to deal with a kiddo who’s having some serious issues at home or school. The worst they had was Eddie Haskell being a jerk and Wally and the Beav having to learn a basic life lesson. No real tears, no real worries, no major life upsets. Just a nice easy life, with a nice easy family, in a nice and easy town. Hell, they even dressed up for dinner…seriously! I’m lucky to have T wear pants at the table and I know the rest of the crazy clan gets tired of me insisting that we all eat together.
This impossibly perfect example of marriage was airing in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Before 1970, divorce was actually an uncommon thing and since then, divorces have become so common that nearly everyone knows the “50% of marriages will end in divorce” statistic. Coincidence? I think not. We were shown an impossible standard and if our own lives and marriages weren’t as neat and easy, we came to the conclusion that it was us, not the Cleavers, who have it wrong and there must be a better marriage out there, somewhere.
I’m not saying that there aren’t reasons for getting a divorce. I had one and it was the best thing for me, my ex, and especially my son. My ex and I were shitty spouses to one another and are much better co-parents. That’s a fact of life there. Abuse and infidelity are hard things to just work through as well, so I’m not white washing those kinds of hardships and mixing them in with the standard marital quarrel. I’m just saying that our impossible views of what a marriage should be leads to major dissatisfaction in our current circumstances and sours a person on the whole institution.
My husband says this whole marriage thing has to get easier. I actually don’t think it’s that hard with him. I still look forward to seeing him when he gets home from a work trip. I rush to the phone when I see he’s calling. I’m still incredibly attracted to him. That’s a big thing with living with someone…you get lazy and forget that you need to keep wooing your partner. I still love the cuss out of him and I know he still loves the cuss out of me. We have our issues when the kidlets are being normal kids and getting into trouble, when we are both too tired to remember how to be kind, when we have an unexpected expense right after another unexpected expense, which followed the big unexpected expense (you know, how things go in the walking around world instead of the magical Hollywood world). Shit can get hard. I know it’s not always a cake walk when I’m so stressed I can’t like to leave my pillow fort or when I can’t get out of a negative thought spiral. He knows he’s not always a prize either. It’s being human. I’m still human and so is he so this whole marriage thing is going to suck sometimes.
I will never have the Cleaver family experience. It’s unrealistic and frankly, it’s bizarre as hell. Life is messy and hard. Marriages are messy and hard. Parenting is messy and hard. Love is messy and hard. I just hope my partner in crime can remember that and not expect me to be Mrs. Cleaver and can just be happy with Mrs. Hamilton.