It was one line in an otherwise uneventful email:

“Sergei and I are getting a divorce, but we’re ending it on good terms.”

Ellie and Sergei were married by a JP at three in the morning. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. Her parents found out a year later in an equally spur-of-the-moment fashion.

They were staying at her parents for the weekend. They came home a little earlier than expected and caught them in bed (door closed, thankfully). “We’re married,” actually, turns out to be a good excuse when trapped in such a situation.

The circumstances and the man were the least surprising part of it. Ellie had always had a disdain for anything remotely conservative, so the surprise was that she married at all, much less married young (before her older sister, my wife Clancy).

Sergei is a Ukranian/Russian (born in one, spent more time in the other), and given Ellie’s disdain for anything American, it made perfect sense. The Russian capitalist and American socialist complimented each other quite well. The Himmelreichs will always be greatful that he got her on anti-depressants, a move which has made her a much more tolerable person.

Clancy and her younger sis have quite a bit in common, temperamentally, though you wouldn’t know it meeting them. A lot of the aspects of Clancy that I butt heads with are those she has in common with Ellie.

Though Ellie and I have limited interaction with one another, I feel like I am facing off with her regularly. It feels like tug-of-war wherein I am pulling Clancy towards my more conventional ways and she, represented by the temperamental aspects that they share, is pulling her in a different way altogether.

In many ways, Ellie’s marriage with Sergei is the type that I do not want to have.

Up until recently, they lived in different states. She was adamantly against children (which for her is for the best, though it was a shame that he wasn’t going to be a father because he would make a good one) and needed so much space that it may have been living together that did them in. Or maybe it was the has-been rust-belt city where he is doing his residency.

But since finding out yesterday it’s been a cause for reflection. Just as in many ways Ellie is a very extreme version of Clancy, their relationship is a more extreme version of ours. Some of the “problems” there (at least I would consider them such, they apparently did not) are some of the areas that Clancy and I need to work on.

I think one of the biggest fears I have is that of a professional marriage, which is in many ways what I considered theirs to be. Couples without children tend to drift apart. Couples that have children can allow children to be their only common bond. Whichever route Clancy and I go, I don’t want the result to be a non-intimate affair where we live our lives more in parallel than together.

This is not commentary on where my marriage is now. Right now she’s a resident and I am a residency widower. There isn’t terribly much that we can do about that, our lives have to be as much in parallel as together. The biggest questions – and biggest fears, I think – involve what happens when that curtain is drawn and we get to see what we are like when we’re less pulled apart. Will we need distance and pull back to a parallel existence or will we have the kind of marriage I’d always intended?

For someone that liked things nailed down, the notion that “time will tell” is disconcerting.

Category: Coffeehouse

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2 Responses to The Big D

  1. Kate the Peon says:

    Good post, CB. Introspective. Thoughtful. Well done.

  2. Becky says:

    You raise a good point on what the foundation of marriage seems to evolve to and why you see couples at a restaurant where they’re not even talking to each other, even on their anniversary. I know I made my first mistake, but your fear is also mine and I’m trying to be extra careful this time around. Hopefully, once Clancy gets past her residency, it will smooth out for you guys.

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