I don't have a lot of experience with, uh, marriage. I mean, for one, I'm not married.
This doesn't mean I don't have ideas about what marriage is (like every person who should probably never be piping up). But I'm the first to admit that my perceptions re: eternal unions might be skewed.
Other than witnessing my own parents with the oblivious non-awareness that is the specific domain of children who are products of a still-happy union, my other models for what marriage is are admittedly warped. Really, it's just "Beauty and the Beast" and also "Jane Eyre." These are both, essentially, stories about bad, ugly dudes with streaks of decency, a good deal of passion, copious amounts of hair (presumably on face and body) who con smart-if-mousy women into a perpetual co-mingling of their loins.
The fact of the matter is, but for the small differences in body hair (and no, my hairy toes don't count), I'm a lot more like the dudes in these stories than I'll ever be like the ladies.
I'm not saying I keep my crazy ex-wife locked in the attic, nor am I saying that I was cursed by a passing witch for being a general dick. No, the trait I share with these eventually-happily-married chumps is that my inability to successfully love myself cuts me off from love. Let's all take a moment to go, "Awwww," and get it out of our systems. Everybody back? Good.
For the many problems in thinking this way -- and there are many problems with thinking this way -- the stories shine a light on something I wish the lower-self-esteem-having-Becca-of-yore had been able to come away with. They are examples of marriages adapting to change. (We can discuss Rochester as an abuser at a later date, mkay?)
Change in a marriage can mean a myriad of things -- some big and some small. A partner who has rocked facial hair loses it and the globe doesn't exactly stop spinning. Change in our physical appearance is part of the journey of life. The same epic journey that, by joining someone else in a marriage, you've ostensibly decided to share forever. You'd think that by entering into this decision, a person would be willing to accept something like weight gain as part of life's changeability -- but for some partners, weight gain is grounds for divorce.
Strangely, it isn't the overt sizeist thinking of this that grosses me out -- it's the dogged stubbornness in the face of the inevitable: We all change. I know from what I speak. Changeability is something I've long struggled with, starting with the rapid changes to my own body in preadolescence. I've run the gamut of feelings when it comes to my own body. I've hated it down the street and back, and more recently loved it up so hard it's almost dirty.
That's something else I share with the Beast and good ol' Eddie Rochester -- I had to work really hard to believe that no matter what I looked like, if I radiated love it would come back to me. It takes a lot of heavy lifting to come to grips with this tough -- but sweet, and important -- reality.
I can't imagine the kick to the gut it would be to finally make that leap and then, after failing to subscribe to impossible and exacting standards from a person who is supposed to love your fundamental essence, to be kicked to the curb. It's gross. It's terrifying actually.
I'm sure I'm not alone when I read articles like this one and have trouble fending off the voice in my head that says, "See? No one can love a fat person forever."
To say stuff like, “Weight gain is grounds for divorce,” is not just to operate under a faulty notion of what marriage is, but of what it is to even be a person existing in the universe. I’d like to think that when you enter a long-term relationship with someone, or a marriage, you’re doing it with your eyes both literally and metaphorically open.
Is there anything wrong with certain physical traits engorging your downstairs bits? Absolutely not. But just as what turns you on can change or grow, it is as likely that the person you choose to partner up with is going to change -- physically and mentally and emotionally. Because life is long, dawg. And complicated as hell.
It also burns my buns that a person could reject a person they’ve entered into a relationship without examining the whys and wherefores. And I mean the whys and wherefores outside of the obvious physical "reasons." In a way, I’d be more sympathetic to the Fat Divorcer if their statement were qualified with an explanation about how changes X, Y and Z were out of character for their partner, and that their partner’s inability to address the forces that prompted this shift was indicative of a more deeply rooted communication problem.
But something tells me if you're dumping someone you promised yourself to for life over 30 pounds, this isn't the sort of work you're up for.
I guess this is all a bit naive coming from a woman so far from boarding the marriage train. I can’t remember the last time I was in a relationship that could be classified as serious. But this is partially because the way I approach men is different now from my primo Beast and Rochester days.
Once, I would have had no issue going on a handful of dates with a kind of mean nerd from OKCupid who barked commands regarding where I should sit on our first date. But the Becca of now isn’t willing to tolerate mistreatment for a bland session of heavy petting all dressed up as potential. That's a dangerous road to venture down, not the least because it's dates like those that lead to marriages like the ones I'm talking about.
Founded on the wrong things for the wrong reasons, is it any wonder they fall so quickly and easily apart?
Sex and marriage are two different things. Leaving a marriage because one member's body has changed just seems like too much of an easy out. Hell, couldn't our changing relationships with our partners and our bodies be one more reason to explore our also-ever-changing turn-ons, kinks and pervy peccadilloes?
If you really can't fathom being with someone because they've gained weight, or their body has changed after having children, or they lose their hair, then why marry them at all?