O Writer Claims That Beneath Every Marriage Runs The "Chyron Of Divorce"

Illustration for article titled O Writer Claims That Beneath Every Marriage Runs The "Chyron Of Divorce"

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.

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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]

Earlier: Slate Power Couple Attempts To Stay Within 15 Feet Of Each Other For 24 Hours

DISCUSSION

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@wishuwereme:

I don't think it's the fact that she's not portraying marriage as some rosy, life fulfilling, orgasm inducing lovefest that's the problem. It's that she's making very general statements as though this is all women and all relationships. It's not.

Just like not everyone on this board is 100% happy 100% of the time, no marriage is without a disagreement or annoyance or even big old fight. But it isn't always some long string of "i put up with so much"s either. Each relationship is individual. And if you're going to give such a one-sided view of your marriage and publicly make your husband look like that...I don't know. I think equal time should be given to the other side.

The thing is, we hear more about dramatically awful relationships most of the time...not ones that work, or work realistically. It's either a fairytale or a house of bad. And tend to be very all or nothing about it based on their own experiences. Which can get condescending to those without that same experience, as though you just don't know how it "really" is.

In my relationship I wouldn't publicly say nasty things about my partner because I love and respect him too much as a human being...and because I believe in the concept of "do unto others". I wouldn't want someone airing their biased and negative view of every nitpicky flaw I have in public in either. I mean, there are truly bad things like abuse, and then there are normal human imperfections.