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No hearing aids, no marriage

A Wyoming woman recently wrote a first-person account of her choice to file for divorce. Writing about her divorce was not particularly unusual, particularly for people who like to journal or write. What stood out were a few crucial details. First off, she filed after 52 and a half years of marriage. Secondly, the reason she did was her husband refused to buy hearing aids.

Grey divorce is increasingly common these days, but this story deftly explains how seemingly minor issues are symptomatic of more significant problems. There was no anger or infidelity. It was merely a matter of no longer sharing the same priorities. The couple raised a family, started a business together, supported each other’s dreams, and had shared a life. Then it was over.

Hearing aids versus a motorcycle

The couple had a seemingly happy and functioning marriage when they decided to go out for dinner. The husband had grown increasingly deaf over the years. This made him hard to talk to or hold a conversation with if there was any background noise. The wife had brought a list of conversation topics along with her to keep the dinner lively.

At one point, the conversation turned to how frustrating it is to talk because he cannot hear her, and the wife then reminded him of a promise to sell a motorcycle, which he had not ridden the last two summers to pay for hearing aids. He had not followed through on his promise.

The wife’s question was simple but telling: Would you rather have hearing aids or a motorcycle? His immediate response was, “A motorcycle, definitely.”

A marriage that worked

The woman then recalled a dinner 20 years earlier, where her elderly parents had dinner with the daughter and her husband. Despite the mother having dementia, the father took care of her, even getting her dressed and applying make-up for dinner that night. The commitment and partnership were intact despite one of them unable to consciously maintain the relationship.

The writer’s marriage, on the other hand, was essentially over because of her husband’s choice. The choice to remain difficult to communicate with basically put an end to the marriage, there would be no new projects to work on together because there was no interest on his part.

Remaining friends

The outcome was that the couple opted to turn their house into a duplex where one would live on each floor. They continued to do things together as friends and family members, but the marriage was over.

The wife calls it an honest arrangement for a situation that was no longer a partnership or a marriage. She talked of their loving relationship now liberated by the baggage of expectations, routines and other trappings of marriage. It may not make sense to some, but it certainly made sense to this couple.

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