Our Humanity, Naturally

A club for humanists

If You Love Me, You'll Divorce Me

Real sanctity is in love, not marriage

 

The following work of fiction is based on a true story. Though narrated in the first person, it is based loosely on events relayed to the author by a third party, and it is published with the permission of that party.


 

 

 

 

 

I never saw it coming, that's for sure.

As a couple, together for almost ten years, we were going strong. I don't want to sugar-coat it by suggesting that it was one of those fairy-tale marriages, that we were one of those perfect couples that dwell in a perpetual state of romance, but we both knew that we had something very special, a real connection that many people never find. She was my babe, no doubt about it, and I was her guy. We still rocked in the bedroom, even after a decade of rocking madly together. She knew me and I knew her, and we could just look at each other and feel it. It was nice, real nice.

When she asked me if I felt like taking a walk into town that day, I thought nothing of it. It was something we did frequently; we would take a ten-minute stroll from our place to downtown, and we would casually roam the stores, stop at the coffee shop, and maybe take a walk in the park.

That day was no different, or so it seemed. I held her hand as we made our way into the commercial district, and we moved along without saying much, just enjoying each other's company.

After we passed the town library on Main Street, as we approached a small office building with several signs for lawyers, she surprised me. Letting go of my hand, she stopped walking and looked at me. "Let's go in," she said.

"In there?" I responded, looking toward the law office. She nodded.

I hesitated, trying to understand. Did she know someone in there? Looking at her, I could see in her eyes that there was something going on, that there was some kind of plan. Not having the time or the ability to analyze it further, I asked the natural question. "For what?"

She started walking slowly toward the building, knowing I would follow. "You'll see," she said. "It's nothing important."

Nothing important, I thought. Well, I guess that's good. I won't bombard her with questions. I'll just go with it.

So we walked into the building, and to my surprise they were waiting for us inside. My babe had apparently made an appointment. The lawyer inside, a polite but not particularly friendly woman who seemed to have no interest in me, ushered us into a conference room. It was clear that she had met my wife previously, as they seemed to understand fully what was happening. I, on other hand, sat bewildered.

When the lawyer started talking, she referred to documents that were on the table. It wasn't long before I was almost in a daze, unable to comprehend what was being said, only vaguely aware of what was happening. Words like "irretrievable breakdown" and "property division" and "legal custody" bounced off the walls, but I really wasn't understanding much. All I did understand was this: my wife was divorcing me.

I looked at her, my vision blurry from the unexpected onslaught. She stood there, a slight smile on her face, but not showing a bit of animosity. Gazing into her eyes I still saw the woman I loved, not an angry spouse, and I couldn't imagine she didn't love me. I didn't understand. I couldn't understand. Why was she doing this? All I could tell from looking at her was that this is something she wanted. For some reason, she wanted to divorce me.

The lawyer referred to the documents, saying something about the "proposed arrangement" being "fair and equitable," but I was more interested in my wife. As my brain settled down just a bit, I could look at her and try to assess the situation. She definitely was not mad. She stood there unapologetically, looking as great as ever. She knew there was no infidelity on my part, so that wasn't the issue. And I knew she wasn't seeing anyone either, so that wasn't the issue. As I stared at her standing there, feeling her penetrating eyes looking right back at me, I thought about the depth of our relationship, the years together. I thought about the quiet morning we had just had together, the intimacy we had shared.

And then with our eyes still locked, the realization hit me, and I stopped asking why. It didn't even matter. She wanted a fucking divorce, so fine.

"Where do I sign?" I asked.

The lawyer seemed a bit surprised that I wasn't resisting. She said something about my needing to acknowledge that I had read everything, and something about how it would be wise for me to have my own lawyer look at the papers. "Thanks," I said. "But just show me where to sign."

I executed the documents, and a few weeks later the court granted the divorce.

***

That was a year ago. Since then, nothing has changed at home. I still wake up every morning next to my babe, and we still rock the house down on a regular basis. We still go for our walks, we still hold hands, and we still enjoy our quiet mornings together. The subject of the divorce has come up in conversation a few times, but never as a serious, long-term discussion, because after I absorbed the shock of that day I began to understand. No explanation was needed.

"Righteous assholes," my wife would always say whenever she heard politicians or preachers talk about the so-called "sanctity of marriage" to rationalize their opposition to same-sex unions. "Why don't they ever talk about the sanctity of love?".

Indeed, the sanctity of love. Three words that summarize the real grounds for our divorce. She was making a statement about true sanctity. Marriage is a legal creation, a man-made institution serving a practical social end, but love is truly innate, natural, even primal. Love, it seems, has gotten lost in the sanctimonious politics of marriage. By divorcing me, my babe was speaking to absurdity in its own language, by a voluntary act of destruction that would leave standing only what was real.

Not surprisingly, friends and relatives are sometimes puzzled by this development in our relationship, but my lover has the concise response ready: "Nobody ever sang, All you need is marriage," she explains. 

The sanctity of marriage, indeed.  Newt Gingrich, Kim Kardashian, and Britney Spears have told us all we need to know about the sanctity of marriage. If they can marry but the lesbian couple next door can't, my babe has a few things to say about sanctity. 

Why did she divorce me? Like she said, it was no big deal.

 

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David Niose is legal director and former president of the American Humanist Association.

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