Monday, March 18, 2013

It Takes Balls

It's not something you'll see on CNN or MSNBC and certainly not Fox News. According to Times Magazine, in 2006 the average first time couple had a 57% chance of success. That's not heartwarming. Add a second marriage to the equation and the odds of it surviving jumped to much less than that almost 60%. Startling statistics even 7 years ago. Thirty-two years is astronomical by comparison, but two people I know beat the odds.

Imagine those statistics altered by both people in the couple having a marriage under their belt and multiple kids to factor into the situation. Time Magazine would have cried looking at the possibility. It's certainly not an easy feat. It's likely something that would chill the soul of most mortal men. Regardless, last week my parents celebrated 32 years of maritally torturing one another.

What started with a, "Would you like to grab a drink when you're off work?" a few weeks later turned into, "Would you like to maybe spend the rest of your life with me?” That's how quickly it happened folks. Five kids and a marriage license later we were the average American family of the 80s. Throw in a baby of their own and the family was complete.

Let's not pretend things were idyllic. They weren't. We had our issues, as all families do. There were accusations of favoritism, loyalties, rocks, hard places, and tears. Still, they soldiered on. The kids all managed to make their ways in life without ending up in jail. We've all done things with our lives that statistically, we shouldn't have been able to accomplish. We've all managed to take the lessons we learned as part of that family, and apply them to our lives and become better people than we likely would have been before.

There is something about a blended family that teaches you to think outside yourself. It's no longer a situation of you vs. your siblings. There are brand new family members that play into the game. You begin to watch other's toes. Did you step on them? When? Why? Can you fix it? You start to value the parent you have in the mix far more than you might if you'd never had to share them. On the flip side, you begin to value the parent you didn't have before... the constant presence of someone who personifies what you've always hoped you would have. That picture, my friends, is a family.

I look at those statistics as a single 39 year old woman and I think to myself, "Those numbers don't mean anything." Sure mathematically, we can break it down to numbers. We can say people who have x marriages or x experiences stand a lower chances of a successful marriage. It doesn't actually come down to those figures ultimately. It comes down to desire. Not just desire for each other, but a mutual desire to make things work. It also comes down to a certain amount of balls.

Yes, BALLS. Balls is what it takes for two people, both wounded from divorce, shouldering their own burdens, drowning in their own financial and emotional woes, to say, "You know what? I really love you. I want to do this. I want to try. I am going to take the chance and say f*ck the statistics, and give this a go." It takes twice the balls to keep saying that year after year.

My parents did that. I have one of the biggest families in my peer group. We're dysfunctional, awesome, caring, loving, and brilliant. We have our mutual families and those unique among our biologicals. We still manage to want the best for each other and to celebrate the good times and sympathize in the bad. Take that, Time Magazine. 
Take that odds. It can be done.

This is what keeps me going. It's what keeps me hopeful. There is someone out there for each of us. When you find that person will you be willing to throw caution to the wind? Will you be able to say "F*ck the odds!"? Can you put aside the doubts, fears, and cautionary tales long enough to go after what you want? Not everyone is a perfect picture. Sometimes the picture needs the brush of an artist bold enough to take on the task. After all, we all need a few happy trees and peaceful lakes to make our landscape complete.

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