I have a theory that Baby Boomers are the last generation that will consider divorce an oddity. I still remember being shocked in 7th grade when I learned that a classmates’ parents were divorced. But what’s really strange is what’s happening now — the weirdness that can result after years of divorces, remarriages, and other rearrangements result in family get-togethers that would cause genealogy software to crash.
These musings were prompted an exchange between my friend Nancy and her son at such a get-together. Nancy’s son came over to her and pointed to a particularly attractive girl across the room. “See that girl over there? Can I have sex with her, or are we related?”
(Oh, I forgot — there’s also the weirdness of a son asking his mother for direction about his sex life.)
Divorce is not particularly rampant either among my family. My parents were married a little more than 60 years before my mother passed away. It’s certainly nothing like the friend of mine who couldn’t invite anyone beyond family to his wedding because his bride’s parents had each been remarried so many times that the entire venue was filled with step-siblings.
No one plans on divorce; few people expect it. It’s always wrenching, but unexpected joys can blossom from it. I wasn’t thrilled when my brother-in-law left my sister for another woman, but they recently celebrated their silver wedding anniversary, so I guess it worked out okay. In fact, the times I’ve chatted with my nieces’ step-mother at parties, I’ve found her much easier to talk to than my ex-brother-in-law.
My in-laws were divorced long before I met my wife. But because they remained friends and were in the same industry, you could always see their heads together at parties talking business. My wife’s late stepmother brought her daughter into the family, and we’re closer to her and her family than we are to the “blood” cousins we have.
In fact, Nancy’s partner Larry postulates that sometimes he’s happier to be around what he calls “the replacements” than the originals. I understand that sentiment: I had a co-worker who got along so well with her ex-husband’s second wife that she referred to her as her “wife-in-law.”
All in all, maintaining cordial relations among families is the best course. Cordial, but not carnal. After all, wondering who you can have sex with at family get-togethers may be how some divorces get started in the first place.