Sometime in the past year or so, Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband (of Coldplay fame) divorced. Ok....well, as a part of the never-ending onslaught of celebrity news, the separation or divorce announcement is not exactly unique or interesting. In this case, the actress in question is known for her "elite persona", but I think she outdid herself here. She announced that she and Chris Martin were "engaging in a conscious uncoupling". The utter pretentiousness of this statement had me confused as whether to laugh or sneer - so I did both for a while. Then I realized that this ridiculous description had become a literary ear worm of sorts for me. For the love of God, why???
Maybe for me, it's not the issue of conscious uncoupling, but rather the opposite - conscious "coupling". Now, as someone who's been married for 24 years, I think I understand marriage fairly well. I tried for a couple of our first childless years of marriage to spend as much time with Bill as humanly possible because I just thought that's what you did. We drove to and from work together, ate lunch together, went everywhere on the weekends together, and ....... started driving each other crazy. Thank God Mandy came along and put a stop to that madness. Over the years, we learned - sometimes the hard way - that we love each other for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with our hobby interests. And while we understand the need to support each other's interests, that is entirely different from engaging in these interests together. And it works.... for us.
Enter the "conscious couples" of the world who seem to outnumber us two to one - and who don't understand us any better than we understand them. I just shake my head sometimes - the first sign of a conscious couple is the joint e-mail address and/or Facebook account with a user name like "frankandmarysmith" (important that it be all one word!!) or even better, the indecipherable combination of initials and last names - email@example.com. I'm sure you have a perfectly acceptable reason for having only one e-mail address or Facebook account, but for the love of God, have some dignity and name the account something that doesn't invoke visions of circus sideshow conjoined humans. <Sigh> - am I the only one who sees the irony in the fact that people are protesting against corporate personhood, yet so many people make the conscious decision to throw away their individuality when they enter into the holy state of matrimony, taking the biblical "two shall become one" command a bit too literally? The best part is when one of these couples join some group - together, of course, - and commit to some level of participation, but when one of them contracts the common cold, or a virus, or < insert any benign, non life-threatening, common, everyday affliction here>, they both stay home. Really? The last time I checked, I was an adult who did not need my husband to sit next to me and feed me chicken soup or whatever while I was sick! In fact, when I am sick, I really don't want another human being anywhere near me.
I fully recognize that this is how these folks have chosen to live. I assume that they are happy and comfortable living this way together, and while I may be smirking and laughing on the inside, I am quite respectful on the outside. In return, it would be really terrific if I wasn't asked over and over why my husband is going here or there for a few days or a week without me and why I choose to go on chorus tours without him. Or they give me that look reminiscent of a dog cocking its head, uncomprehending. I am asked "Do you miss Bill yet?" with the appropriate vocal inflection - equal parts sweetness, concern and curiosity. My answer - an abrupt "Nope"- never fails to startle the inquisitor in the most satisfying way. It's not entirely true that I don't miss him. I miss him, the person. I do not miss the way I know he'd be behaving if I forced him to pay over $1,000 to be scheduled within an inch of his life. I, the performer and anal-retentive time schedule freak, thrive on this type of experience. He hates it. Let's put it this way - people on these trips have gotten lost or lost track of time, and we've sat on a bus waiting for them. My husband would "get lost" on purpose. And then I'd have to kill him. Nobody wins. So, stop asking me why he isn't coming with me or if I miss him. This, in my mind, is only slightly less intrusive than asking a couple why they "only" have one child (another phenomenon that I am familiar with).
My bottom line - years of pre-cana sponsoring taught me that marriage is a tough business and it's different for everyone. Whatever works!
But, I reserve the right to snicker on the inside at "frankandmarysmith".