The other night, I read a Facebook post from a couple I know, announcing that after 37 years of marriage, they are separating. I met this couple 13 years ago through the Swinger-Verse, and to say that they are a “power couple” in the world of swinging would not do them justice. For decades, this couple has planned events attended by thousands of people all over the world. They have hosted more large scale swinger events than just about anyone else in the world. These two have been the largest proponents of the swinger lifestyle, not just because they own a business that caters to sexually adventurous adults, but because they found swinging to be a positive, healthy way of life, and they still do.
And yet, they are separating. If one of the top power couples in swinging is separating after 37 years, can “the swinging lifestyle” be all that it’s cracked up to be? It’s easy to point fingers and accuse “swinging” as the downfall to their relationship. But is it really? With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, I think it’s okay to accuse “monogamy” as the downfall to a relationship as well.
In my book, “Hey…and Other Scintillating Mating Calls From The Online Dating World,” I point out the fact that for a marriage to be considered a success, one or both people in the relationship have to die. That’s right! When you and/or your spouse dies, you can no longer divorce. Congratulations! Your marriage is a success! Just ask the person who died in silent misery being married to the wrong person their entire life. Just ask the person who thought they were happily married, only to find their cheating partner screwed everything in sight after “marriage hours.” Just ask any one of the married men who calls me asking if I can hypnotize their frigid wife into being remotely interested in sex again. Lots of people are unhappy in their marriages. Yep! Pretty successful marriages right there! They’re still married! When you ask these people why they stay in these relationships, it’s almost always because of financial security and/or the kids.
Perhaps it’s time to look at “marriage” a little differently. Many men and women are raised with the expectation that they will find their prince charming, their soul mate. They will have an amazing wedding, and then ride off into the sunset of wedded bliss. At the wedding, they say that magical phrase “til death do us part.” These words go back at least as far as 1549, as mentioned in The Book of Common Prayer. The happy couple swears that they will love each other through thick and thin, forsaking all others, and stay together until death separates them.
In 1549, the average life expectancy was 30-35, so “til death do us part” meant that you had to put up with someone’s sh*t for maybe 15-20 years. Life was a lot harder then, so couples needed to stick around in order to make “life” work.
In 2021 - technology and innovation is changing our lives in ways we never imagined. Instead of the pony express, we now have cell phones. Instead of dragging our clothes down to a water source to wash them by hand, we have washing machines and dryers. Instead of copying a book by hand, we simply click a button and send the book to someone via the internet. Instead of hooking up our horse and buggy to go to the store, we simply hop in our cars and go…or log on to Amazon and our order is delivered to us the next day. With all of these time saving devices, compounded with advancements in medical technology…the average life expectancy is pretty close to 80 years now.
In those 80 years, we find ourselves getting new phones, new appliances, new computers, and new cars. Why? Because the old ones wear out, or technology advances have made them obsolete. We think nothing about going through 20 different kinds of phones, 3 washer/dryers, or 6 cars in a 60 year time span, but spouses? Oh HELL no. Once you’re married, you are expected to keep that same old spouse the whole time you’re married, whether or not they are efficient, in good working order, and up to date for your needs.
Abolishing marriage is not the answer, after all, who doesn’t love a good party, cake, and the chicken dance? It is time, to update our expectations of marriage. Seeing as how we’re living 50 years longer than when the original words “til death do us part” appeared, it’s time to think out of the box. The person we met and needed in our 20’s is most likely not the same person we need in our 40’s. While we can hope for that one person to appear that will be with us til the end, perhaps we will be less bitter and angry over “failed marriages” when we understand and accept that we marry to make our life journey a lot more enjoyable and a bit less lonely. Instead of “til death do us part,” it’s time to reframe modern day marriage as “til happiness doth run out.”
Just because a marriage ends in divorce, doesn’t necessarily means the marriage was a failure. A lot of amazing things can come out of any relationships, and sometimes one of those amazing things is knowing that it’s time to move on.
I wish all the happiness in the world for my friends as they continue their life journeys without each other, and I hope they remember these words from Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”