dc113507 on Apr 23rd 2012
“I’m an excellent housekeeper. Every time I get a divorce, I keep the house.” –Zsa Zsa Gabor
You see it everywhere. The modern day plague that’s sweeping the nation. No, scratch that the world. You can’t turn on the TV without eventually hearing about it. You can’t open a magazine or a newspaper without reading about it. In fact it’s so prevalent in our world today that one in every two people will be affected by it. You’re probably wondering, what is this heinous epidemic, and where should I run to hide from it?! Would you laugh if I told you this ‘heinous epidemic’ was…divorce? Yup, divorce.
From marriages that begin in Vegas and end within the next 72 hours, to the extravagant weddings of the ‘Kim Kardashians’ of the world that barely make it past the honeymoon phase, marriage in a modern day world has been made into a joke, a farce, something people no longer look at as a life-long commitment. It’s just as easy to get a divorce today as it is to buy a new car. Sign a few papers along the dotted line and you can pretend your betrothal never happened.
It’s safe to say that these attitudes towards marriage and divorce have not always been present in our society. Eileen Chang’s short story, ‘Love in a Fallen City,’ makes critical comments on divorce in an ancient Chinese society. In the story’s opening the reader is made aware that the main protagonist, Liusu has divorced and is informed that her ex-husband has just passed away. Through dialogue between Liusu and her family members the shame that Liusu has brought on her family with her decision to divorce is evident. Her sister in law chastises Liusu saying “Is divorce such an easy thing, that you can get divorced anytime you want? If it were really that easy, why haven’t I divorced your Fourth Brother…I too have my own family, it’s not as if I don’t have a place to run to. But in times like these I have to think of their needs too….I still have some sense of shame!” Liusu has caused her family dishonor and added an additional financial burden with her divorce. Her family now has an extra mouth to feed and person to clothe. Through these passages Eileen Chang has stressed the significance and necessity of marriage during this time in Chinese society. During this time marriage was not viewed as a trivial and temporary commitment. It was seen as a life-long engagement that could not be easily ended through divorce without a serious stigma being placed on the man and woman.
When I read ‘Love in a Fallen City’ Zhang’s statements regarding divorce really stood out to me. What a far cry from a society today, where a 50% divorce rate exsis. How has our world gone from a traditional society where divorces were only seen in extreme cases, to a world where 1 in every 5 divorces are caused by, get this…FACEBOOK! This question is a complex one that I think has many answers. Has preoccupation with material drapings and superficialities (see my previous post ‘A Vanity Affair’ for more regarding that!) led to the deterioration of marriage as a sacred union, and in many cases as a holy sacrament.
Our society today is filled with couples and relationships that boast a selfish lifestyle. This lifestyle promotes preoccupation with one’s own well being instead of the well being of their significant other. Husbands and wives tend to forget the hard work and commitment that it takes to make a happy marriage last. They let menial troubles blow out of proportion and dissolve marriages that they simply don’t have the energy to work at. I absolutely believe that in many instances divorce is completely acceptable and necessary. However divorce today has been accepted as so commonplace that it to no longer carries the stigma of shame that it once did.
Do families today have the same reaction regarding divorce as Liusu’s family did? Would a 21st century family condemn and resent a relative who has gone through a divorce? Of course not. Hollywood has allowed for the glamorization of divorce. Turn on the TV and you can watch ‘Happily Divorced’ an entire sitcom dedicated to the mockery of divorce. Browse the magazine gossip rack and covers will scream of the recordbreaking-ly short marriages. The evidence is all around us, blatant billboard signs that society is every changing!