Nasty, Brutish and Short

When I was 19, I was a disc jockey at a small radio station on the eastern plains of Colorado.  I loved it.  And I loved my boss.  Not in the sleep-your-way-to-the-top kind of way; rather a you’re-welcome-to-spend-Christmas-with-my-family-since-you’re-a-1,000-miles-from-home-and-divorced-from-wife -#5″ way.

I’m a sucker for Christmas and all it’s supposed to mean.


Joe (his real name and  I could also tell you his last name was Smith.   If you can figure out which Joseph Smith in the USA I’m talking about, go ahead and call him and tell him to sue me.   I swear, why should I waste time changing his name to protect his identity?  What would I pick?  Rudolv Peterinapokevich? – Joe is easier to type….)…where was I?

Oh, yes…Joe informed me marriage was an institution created when our ancestors were lucky to see 32 years of age.  “Just think, Tamrah, if you got married when you were 15, at most, you only had to spend 17 years with someone.”

Remember I was 19?  I still believed in true love, love conquers all and soul mates.   I figured Joe probably fell into the same category all my men friends did.  “You are so much fun and so cool.   Great friend, but there is No Way In Hell I’d put up with you as a boyfriend…you male chauvenistic pig.”

There’s a lot you can forgive your fishin’, target shootin’ and beer drinkin’ buddies that will not be forgiven for one moment when said individual is your true love.

This fact is probably why men complain about women.


Fast Forward 10 years.   I’ve been married to my “true love” for 2 years.   A couple we both know, who have persevered through serious health problems, etc decide to get divorced 2 years after the last transplant.

I work with these people.  I like them both.  I come home in tears.  (Mind you – other folks marital business usually doesn’t affect me that much.)

Hubby wants to know why I’m so upset about the news.   “Because!” I hiccup and sob, “The only thing either of them could say was, “We woke up one morning and there was a stranger sitting across from me at the table.   I didn’t know what to do with them.”

I was scared.   How could someone stay by someone through multiple transplants, life and death weeks (not moments), devastating financial responsibilities – just to quit 2 years after said problems were over and everything was looking good?   How could you stick by each other in the valley of the shadow of death and splitsville when you finally had Spring Break in Florida in your sights?

But most of all, I wanted to know:  What if that happens to us?   And how do I stop it?


I may never truly understand their situation; but I think I do get it now.   I suspect things may not have been that grand before the major troubles hit, but no one was willing to ‘give up’ during a crisis.

For the most part, as a species, we’re just not that cruel.


After the death of my oldest son, I learned that 87% of couples divorce after the death of a child.   I held onto that 13% like a lifeline.   I was even proud of it.   But I didn’t admit what I should have.

That loss meant my life and purpose was reborn.  I’m different now.  What I think is important and what I want out of life have radically changed.

Much, as I suspect, someone who is told the operation may not work and they make wake up dead changes their mind on what they really want when they get a second chance.


I read a study once that said each cell in our body completely renews within 7 years.  So every 7 years, there is not one cell in my body that existed when I and my true love met.

I am, in fact, a completely new person every 7 years.  And studies show, living with a new person every 7 years results in a 50% divorce rate.   Perhaps this is the basis for the 7 year itch theory…


I’m starting to think our ancestors didn’t really have it, “nasty, brutish and short.”   I’m convinced our greatest boons and greatest sorrows come from the same source:

Our capacity to connect and bond with each other.

Just think – if our ancestors only lived, on average, to 32, then the 7 year itch syndrome could only break their heart twice in one lifetime.


Maybe Joe was right.   And maybe, just maybe – someday we’ll recognize marriage as a financial contract for the purpose of combining resources to properly provide for any offspring and start celebrating the growth and changes in individuals that necessitates a re-negotiation of terms every 7 years or so.

After all, we need the “new people” to sign the contract….

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