By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Once I realized I didn’t want Dan at my birthday party, I started to confide my unhappiness to my closest friends. Maybe divorce is catching. Once a friend does it, you realize it is a viable option — like suicide. Most people who commit suicide have had a close friend or family member previously do the same. Or maybe divorce isn’t contagious, and it’s just a coincidence that at 29 years old, most of my friends were also unhappy in their marriages. Their experiences add to the list of steps to take if you want to be divorced by 30. Such as ...
STEP ELEVEN: Move in together to save money.
After being married for five years, my friend Aaron was a shell of his once-acerbic self. His path to getting divorced by 30 was to move in with his girlfriend way too quickly because it made financial sense. Then, once moved in, they fell into wedding plans and a marriage. Their wedding was spectacular. Guys in gorilla costumes and everything. But once again, the wedding does not make the marriage. Like many men, Aaron did not leave his wife. He just brooded in quiet misery until she left him. Now single in his early 30s, he has never been happier, in his usual curmudgeonly way.
STEP TWELVE: All your friends are doing it.
Like a Christian kid doing the bar mitzvah circuit in eighth grade, you can feel pretty left out if you’re not part of the 27-year-olds’ wedding circuit. No parties. No presents. No center of attention. That’s how my friend Liz felt, so she decided it was time to get a boyfriend quick, and get married even quicker. She married the first person who came along. Even though he was in an awful band, called her the wrong name in bed once and never paid for dinner.
Liz’s marriage lasted only three months. She is now 30, much wiser, and I’m pretty sure she will be more discerning before getting engaged again.
STEP THIRTEEN: Marry your high school sweetheart.
Although marrying your high school sweetheart is a safe bet to end in divorce by 30, we continually view it as the height of romance.
Robert and his HS GF briefly broke up in college, only to decide two weeks later they couldn’t live without each other. They got married their senior year and enjoyed the constant cooing whenever anyone asked how they met. It was 10th-grade biology. He sat behind her. She passed him a note. And after their first date at the mall, nothing was going to get in the way of their intense, I-will-die-for-you first love. Except when at 28 years old, he realized they had little in common other than lots of memories. Which brings me to ...
STEP FOURTEEN: Ignore your spouse and dive into a new addiction.
To escape from his daily discontentment, Robert started playing World of Warcraft. Once he hit level 70, his wife had an affair with a co-worker. And he was divorced soon after.
STEP FIFTEEN: Beat a dead horse.
This general late-20s relationship melancholy transcends sexual orientation. Although not technically married, my friend Alise went to the West Hollywood courthouse to get domestic-partner papers with her live-in girlfriend of three years. A year later, Alise was tired of the lesbian bed death, the constant talking riddled with miscommunications, and the biweekly therapy sessions.
Marriage shouldn’t be that hard, and if it is, it’s time to leave. The brink of 30 is a good age to realize that beating a dead horse won’t make it move any faster.
Once You’ve Made It Through the Steps
Aaron, Alise, Liz, Robert, Michelle and I all got divorced within a month of one another. Michelle and I actually left our husbands on the same day.
Each couple had different degrees of fighting and sadness and aftermath. After struggling with my feelings for a few months, I couldn’t ignore my despondency any longer. I waited for Dan to come home, and the minute he walked through the door, I said, “I’m unhappy and think we should get a divorce.” He said, “Okay.” It turns out he was unfulfilled as well. I was just the first one to say it. Which makes sense, since I was always the chronically list-making, perpetually planning, compulsive organizer. And he was the laid-back, pot-smoking, expend-as-little-energy-as-possible guy.
Like Aaron and Robert with their spouses, Dan waited for me to decide to leave. Men are more comfortable with the status quo. Even if that status sucks. Even Alise, who was sort of the “girl” in the relationship, made the decision to leave her wife. My theory on this is that men are ultimately too lazy to get divorced. The numbing misery is better than the paperwork.
A few days after Dan and I spoke, I flew to Miami to get away and to tell my parents I was getting divorced. Minutes after being picked up at the airport, while driving over the causeway, I blurted out that Dan and I were done. My mother sighed and said, “It’s very sad when a five-year marriage only lasts two and a half years.” Then my father asked if I had a quarter for the toll.