The eminently reasonable Hanna Rosin, whom you might remember as the journalist guinea pig who agreed to stay within 15 feet of her husband for 24 hours, is dismayed by an O: Oprah Magazine article called "Divorce Dreams" by New York Times scribe Ellen Tien. And Rosin is piqued for good reason: Tien says some obnoxious and depressing things about the state of her marriage. "The story's first sentence is: 'I contemplate divorce every day.'" Rosin notes. "Three paragraphs in, I was shocked that someone would write this way under her own byline about her living husband, and not her ex…The premise is that women of certain class, flush with financial independence, yoga-toned arms and infinite choices, all yearn for divorce every day." Rosin pleads with her readers: "Help me out here, ladies. Is this true? Am I living in a fantasy land? Or is Ellen Tien as bitchy as she seems?" I can answer her questions: No, this isn't true; No, Rosin is not living in a fantasy land; Yes, Tien is as bitchy as she seems.
I also don't find Tien's honesty "brave," I find it sad. When you share your life with someone, of course you will be frequently annoyed by them. But, beneath those frequent irritations, there is a deep affection, one that's so thickly layered that it's difficult to describe publicly without feeling you've betrayed your partner, or belittled your shared emotions by attempting to explain them in a way that's accessible to others.
Rosin describes the beginning of Tien's piece — it's "a portrait of her bumbling fool of a husband, who lies, always says exactly the wrong thing, scratches his armpit at a parent-teacher conference and then 'absently smells his fingers.'" To publicly denigrate someone you ostensibly still love in that way is kind of scary to me. Why is she staying with someone she doesn't publicly respect? Tien also writes that "Beneath the thumpingly ordinary nature of of our marriage - Everymarriage - runs the silent chyron of divorce." It seems like for her, the chyron is silent but deadly.
Divorce Anyone? [Slate]