Divorce is a traumatic experience. But sometimes, irreconcilable differences can simply no longer be ignored. When that moment comes, it makes sense for both parties to take an objective look at their relationship and circumstances and try to do the right thing.
That time may well have come for one broken marriage, between the United States and the Rest of the World.
All we ever do anymore is fight. The Rest of the World begs us to listen, even lashes out for attention, but we are too engrossed in our own troubles. People get hurt, but do we listen? We’re only listening to our own pain. Everything is about us. US US US. Being right has become more important than doing right. We come home from work angry every day, fly off the handle, kids get hurt.
Arguments around the dinner table have gotten ugly. Everything has become a litmus test of the relationship. We demand support, but the love is gone, the respect for the other’s point of view absent. Love is war.
Lately we’ve been going out a lot on our own, ignoring pleas to bring the Rest of the World along, even becoming openly contemptuous of the Rest of the World’s friends. That trip to Kyoto by ourselves was a particular disaster. Feelings, egos get so bruised, is it any wonder that when we really need support, it isn’t there?
The Rest of the World has been begging us to spend more time together. Remember all those resolutions we made together? Number 242 comes to mind, but all we can talk about is 1441. We share no common interests, and have closed our ears, our eyes, our hearts, even while the Rest of the World has made it pretty clear: If we go off on that adventure to Iraq on our own, that may be the end. The damage—to the relationship, to the family—will be enormous.
The Rest of the World says we just don’t speak the same language anymore. They are right. I’m not sure we ever did, or that we ever really tried. Do we really know how the Rest of the World feels, how it spends its time, what motivates it? When it has problems, do we bother to listen anymore? We focus on our tragedies and ignore theirs. We have become demanding, arrogant, unyielding. Great oceans have grown up between us.
The bonds that have kept us together so long were once strong. Remember how close we felt as a family after the tragedy two Septembers ago? All that is gone. Affections forged in hard times, through common sacrifices, are being forgotten, and scars are all that is left. Repairing broken feelings, redeeming lost respect, rekindling a lifetime friendship may not be possible.
Going our separate ways seems fraught with difficulties, yet somehow I sense the Rest of the World might be better off without us.
Whatever happens, we will have only ourselves to blame. How could we have tried harder to understand? At what point was it too late? we will ask ourselves. Maybe we will come to our senses in time, if we stop to think of what we stand to lose. If we don’t, then the Rest of the World would be within its rights to say: I divorce thee, I divorce thee, I divorce thee.