I have been wanting to write something about long term marriages which end amicably. I wish there were more of them. When two people who have loved each other decide to give each other the freedom to live their lives in a new way and go forward without each other they should be given some praise. Such honesty is hard to come by. It takes real guts to break lose after so many years. All the friends who have admired such a marriage feel betrayed, dishonored somehow. But they should not. The fact is that it is respectful and courageous and honest and true to be transparent and put an end to a relationship that is no longer working. This does nothing to negate all the positives from before. People change. And it is in this changing and growing which would not have happened without the mutual support of both parties, that the beauty of the marriage shines through.
It is possible that only successful marriages can end so amicably. It is also possible that it is the very success that breeds the strength to leave each other after the growth is completed. It could be that we are not designed to remain together more than 40 years. So many marriages barely make it that long before someone dies. But if both parties are healthy and seem ready to live an additional 30 or so years, then it might be a better solution for all to start over. There is no disgrace in staying mostly happy for forty years. Congratulations to all who succeed in doing that.
Marriage vows, like religion itself were designed to promote order, not to force people to live together as punishment for living a long life. In ancient times it was practically unheard of to stay alive so long that each was still married to the other for over 40 years. Now it is common in those who have not already divorced years before. Obviously I do not believe that it is wrong to divorce after more than 40 years since I did exactly that. It was not something we took lightly. We really thought about it, talked about and allowed others to council us about it. Yet we knew it was the thing to do for us. It is only now, years later that I can see how very right it was. It also shocks me when I remember how brave we were to do it. Our family and friends were all scandalized. Yet we were more or less serene. For us the marriage was already over. It was not shocking to us. And as the years have passed I have become completely comfortable with that decision. I often council others who are struggling with the idea or the repercussions of divorce.