Can This Marriage Be Saved? (And do I care?)   4 comments

I have an admission to make. And it’s an embarrassing one.

I have never been a fan of reality television. Other than cooking shows; the world needs more cooking shows that focus on food, not ones with chefs who swear a lot. I don’t know who the housewives are, don’t care about a bunch of strangers living in (and apparently hooking up in) a large house or on an island, couldn’t care less about how many children some people have, and think trying to find true love in front of millions of people, then whining when it doesn’t work out is kind of dumb and more than somewhat self-promoting. And have you seen the latest show? (Just to be clear, I haven’t.) It has people meeting each other naked. NAKED.

I just don’t get the appeal of watching these spectacles, but that’s me.

Here’s what does appeal to me (and where the admission comes in) – advice columns. I have an addiction to advice columns.

For years I have been an avid reader of Abby, Amy, Ann Landers, Beth, Meredith, and many others. (And, yes, I am aware this list is alphabetical; I have a thing about order.)

Here’s the embarrassing part. My biggest addiction isn’t to a columnist but to a specific column.

For years, whenever I got the chance I would grab the nearest copy of Ladies Home Journal and flip to one particular section, Can This Marriage Be Saved?. Every month when the new copy showed up at work, I would casually leaf through it and skim the article at the end of the day. Long waits in the doctor’s waiting room were a chance to get caught up on months of back issues. Even if they were old, there was a good chance I hadn’t read them yet as I refused to buy the magazine for that one section.

When I discovered Can This? was also online, I was in Internet heaven. I could easily while away an hour or two – or three or four, but we won’t mention that – reading about the problems other people had in their marriages. Most of the problems were huge ones – infidelity, gambling, drug use, chronic illnesses – and while I was vicariously happy for the couple for working out their problem, I also felt smug about the fact my marriage didn’t have these issues.

Other columns were harder to read. During the three years I was trying to get pregnant, the columns on infertility were impossible to even look at. When my husband got laid off, the issues with that topic were pushed to the side, as were most columns dealing with depression. I figured since I had that one covered, there was no need to read about somebody else’s struggle with it.

Long before my ex-husband announced our marriage was over, I had gotten out of the habit of reading the Can This? columns. I still read the daily advice columnists as they appeared in the newspapers I glanced at each day while looking for the comics (yes, I still do; it’s what I read first in the paper in the morning), but taking the time to locate a Ladies’ Home Journal, or trying to remember to look it up online, was more than my overwhelmed full-time worker, generally supportive spouse, and tired mommy brain could handle.

Then my world imploded, and I was too busy deciding if I could be saved – I was pretty sure the marriage was well and truly kaput – to read about the problems of other people. Was it nice of me not to care? No. Did it make me self-centered? Yeah it did, but at that point I was concentrating on keeping that self in one piece and didn’t have a lot of attention for anyone who wasn’t my son. (Spoiler alert: Overall, I seem to have come through that relatively unscathed.)

Why is any of this even an issue?

I came across the new home of Can This Marriage Be Saved? while doing a reference search for a patron the other day. (It’s amazing what odd things you come across in a keyword Google search sometimes, isn’t it? The first hit answered my patron’s question, the column was fourth or so down the page.) When I got off desk and sat down to lunch, I gleefully typed in the URL on my computer and waited for the site to load. I figured I could whip through one or two columns while I ate my sandwich, then go for a walk and clear the cobwebs out of my brain.

It didn’t work they way I envisioned it.

Halfway through the ‘He Said, She Said’ section of the first column I had to stop reading. My sandwich had turned to chalk in my mouth, and I had trouble swallowing. I took a drink of water, shut the web page, and went for my walk, making sure to grab my MP3 player so I could listen to a story while I was out.

A day or so later, I tried again. Same reaction.

It took me a few days to figure out what the issue was.

I can no longer read the Can This Marriage Be Saved? column the same way I used to.

Pre-divorce, I read them with the eye of someone who thought her marriage was strong and healthy, that the type of counseling the couples in the magazine needed wasn’t anything my relationship would ever need.

Post-divorce, they make me sad. Not for the people whose marriages are saved. I have always been astonished at what some of these folks have been through; in some cases, like infidelity or gambling away our life’s savings, I honestly wouldn’t have tried that hard to reconcile. That they manage to get their relationships back on track after everything they have been through astonishes me.

And makes me jealous.

I am far enough along in my ‘recovery’ not to want my old relationship back, but the fact my ex didn’t find either the relationship – or me – worth fighting for still troubles me. Probably more than it should, but there it is.

In a more superficial light, the fact I can no longer indulge in what once was a guilty pleasure troubles me as well. In a few years, I may try again and see what happens.

Or not. Maybe I’ll try to find a new habit, one that doesn’t have me living vicariously through someone else’s therapy.

I wonder how many seasons of Game of Thrones are on Netflix now? I may have to take a look.  I can, however, tell you what I won’t be watching, and it has to do with naked dating.  Just the thought of it makes me slightly sick to my stomach.  Not that GoT won’t.  Hmmm.


Posted June 11, 2015 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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4 responses to “Can This Marriage Be Saved? (And do I care?)

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  1. You might like Captain Awkward! because it has great advice and the most amazing commentariat i have ever read. And there is not a lot about saving marriages. AND there is an enormous backlog of stuff.
    Plus and also she is funny.

  2. I stopped reading Can this . . Awhile ago when there was something along the lines of a set less marriage, can this be saved. Too close to home and I SO do not want to delve I to it. Love advice columns though, and love that they are on the same page as the comics and the puzzles —My other guilty mental pleasures, rather like chocolate for the brain.

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