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Act Divorced to Improve Your Marriage?

If good marriages make us lazy and complacent, what's the solution? Bad marriages?

This morning I dove in and swam around in the friendly waters of The NewYork Times' Modern Love. I dug up a few gems, but I particularly loved "Honey, Let's Get a Little Divorced" by Rachel Zucker. Zucker talks about the ways that she and her husband have slacked off over 13 years of marriage -- how they fall into familiar roles and stick there, even when they know better. Zucker's solution? To ask her hubby if they can act a little bit...divorced.

From the article:

"Maybe what I mean by 'acting divorced' is that I want us to renew our vows not of marriage but of egalitarianism. My husband is a feminist, but somehow I've taken charge of the lioness's share of our domestic responsibilities even though he doesn't make more money or work longer hours than I do. And the more I do, the more helpless and unhelpful he becomes. Our parenting sometimes resembles a game of chicken, and I almost always lose."

Jack and I don't have children, but I've written (complained) repeatedly about how I do all of the cooking and most of the cleaning. But I think Zucker does a great job of zeroing in on why this dynamic is half my fault.

She says:

"It bothers me that I do more than half the work, even if this inequality may have developed because I was better at these things or had trouble ceding control. It bothers me that our marriage -- efficient and loving though it mostly is -- has caused both of us to let valuable skills and abilities atrophy and to become less than our best selves."

The reality is that Jack did used to feed himself daily (okay, it was mostly sandwiches, but still...) and did handle his own cleaning (though the filth of his bachelor bathroom is forever burned into my mind). And if I'm to be honest, I took much better physical care of myself prior to marriage. I hate admitting this, but the safety of a happy marriage has allowed me to let more than a few muscles atrophy (both literally and metaphorically).

So Zucker's idea, that if she and her husband were to act a little bit divorced, they'd each rooster up and take on more responsibility as parents and as adults in general, appeals to me. I think I should approach my physical self as if I were single and "on the market." I think Jack should approach a kitchen as if there weren't a decent cook (moi) ready to swoop in and pick up the slack every night.

So what do you guys think about getting "a little divorced"?

-- Holly

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