Tuesday, September 12, 2006

From Moments to Memories

Had lunch with a (non-blood) relative today and he explained some of the background to his on-again-off-again divorce to my (blood) relative. It's incredibly sad to do a post-mortem of a 35-year marriage and to realise after all the time they spent together their relationship has ground down to this. They've licked the bottom out of the plate. They're in their 60s now and still fighting - if they do get divorced, so what? They have a son - they'll still fight about and over him. If they don't get divorced, then they'll just carry on like this indefinitely and unhappily.

It's very tempting to find fault with their individual personalities in a "it'll never happen to the likes of me" rationalisation exercise but I just can't. At the root of this horrible relationship are 2 strong-willed but incredibly normal people with logical minds and normal if fraying temperaments. How did they come to this? When they first met they were insanely crazy about each other. One went overseas to study and the other begged and borrowed enough money to follow. Now they can't even agree on halogen lights for the living room.

I've always felt that my cousin was a remote little kid that grew up into a remote sullen young man whose emotions (other than displeasure and apathy) are completely unreadable. Frankly I can't blame him. Without any siblings, he's had to face all of this alone since as long as he can remember. Now that they can hardly bring themselves to speak to each other, he has to pass along messages ranging from snippy comebacks to ultimatums. At least during the few years that my parents were fighting, I had 2 other siblings to witness the mess. Although we have never discussed it, at least I got to see their reaction to the trauma and it was a comfort in itself.

I believe he is changed forever from their constant fighting through the years. I'll always wonder what kind of person he could've been if he grew up in a normal household, although is any household really ever normal? Maybe this is normal.


At 11:39 AM, Anonymous dilettanteP said...

I don't know anymore.

What I hate most is- antagonistic parents say they stay together their children.

Although so true, it is also such a convenient excuse to not undergo/embrace change (possibly because of the uncertainty of what's next)...

Sometimes children are better off without being within a dysfunctional family structure.

I know that as someone coming from one and almost feeling guilty for existing so parents have to stick together and remain unhappy. They have no idea the impact they could inflict on their children psychologically and emotionally. Children do not have the option to choose to exist.

I don't know if you agree as a parent yourself.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger gremlin said...

no, dilettantep, I think they really did stay together thinking it's for the better of you. I think anyone unhappy enuff would walk if not for selfless reasons - ie. children. it's sooo much harder with kids coz you feel bad enuff that you mucked up your relationship - what more muck up your kids' and how do you explain not being a whole family anymore and lots more and lots more....but perhaps a lot of parents just dun handle it too well when it comes to venting and the kids feel the strain in the end anyways...which is sad. but no, they probably really thought it less dysfunctional to bear with each other than to leave each other - just for you, really.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

When my siblings and I were 5, 8 and 11 respectively, my mother held a referendum. Does she divorce my dad or no? The vote was almost unanimous (my 5-year old sister didn't quite get it) that she should go through the divorce. We were tired of the fighting.

In retrospect, it was the better decision. There is the initial heartbreak (when you divorce the man, you also divorce his relatives - we stopped getting invits to family reunions) but in the grander scheme of things, not a big deal.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Forgot to mention - my parents got married because my mom got pregnant (with yours truly). Although I may have forgotten to mention it, my paternal grandmother and dad's sisters have never let me forget it.

I don't feel sorry at all for existing, even though it's likely my mother could've married someone better. But I DO feel sorry for the other chap - I was also informed by my paternal relatives that my father, Mr Virile and Omnipotent, had gotten 2 girlfriends pregnant at the same time and picked my mother. The other woman very likely terminated her pregnancy. So some other guy/ girl might have existed but for me.

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