The Bitter Lesson

I have been thinking about my past marriage and recent divorce a lot lately, and I used to always come up with allegorical stories for my students in class and I think this one fits my experience to a tee. 

Divorce and bitter beer have a lot in common.  At the risk of sounding stupid by comparing such a  life-changing event to something as trivial as the taste of an alcoholic, malted beverage, I will have to defend my line of thinking  by saying imagine each description in their context and what they truly stand for as they relate to their own fields.

When drinking, we all have different reasons for partaking of the man-made nector.  For me, I'll have to admit, I truly enjoy the taste of beer.  I am not a lush, however, I think that I partake of beer for the taste but also for the added benefits of feeling a little relaxed (in the past to the point of inebriation).

But sometimes, I would get  a bottle of beer that, right from the first drink, you could tell it was either packaged warm, or had set on the shelf way too long.  Anyway, you could tell something was wrong with it. 

But, do I dare throwaway a full bottle of beer, because there are still remnants of that wonderful flavor that I enjoy and I know that it will still give me the feelings I enjoy, whether it tastes bad or not.

So to, in a marriage.  Maybe at the onset, you have this perfect picture of what you want in life for a relationship.  Who doesn't?  You have to have a base line in which to compare things to in your life.  But, you meet a person who provides you with some of those good points, good feelings, good times. 

However, you also notice right from the start there is something wrong?  Maybe it was in the packaging (DNA, heredity) or maybe something happened to him/her at the store (relationship problems from a past marriage and such), who knows, but you can see something isn't quite right.  However, there are some good things and benefits to being with this person.

So, instead of throwing the bottle away, I drink it, hoping that it will taste better by the time I reach the bottom. 

We stay with the person , hoping that they will see your good points and commitment to the relationship.

And sure enough, you start feeling the feelings you desired, but as the beer warms up and the more you drink, the more bitter it gets, yet by that time, you are so far into the drink, you don't quit on it now.  After every drink, you shake your head in disgust and choose not to remember what it tastes like until the next time you tilt it up to your mouth.

And in a marriage, you start feeling the feelings you desired, but as the relationship progresses, things grow cold.  The newness wears off and you are so far into it now, you don't dare quit on it.  You are determined to forget the fights and harsh feelings, until the next go around.

Then, as the beer nears it last drink, you look at it and realize that last drink is too warm, nothing changed with the taste and its drinkability and it will not change its taste for you now at the bottom of this bottle, so why do it?  If the beer doesn't get better, only worse, then why subject yourself to the worst part of the beer anylonger.  Your commitment was there to the end, but now for that last drink, it is not worth the possibility of getting sick, so you pour it out.

Same as with a marriage.  You stuck it out and committed yourself to hanging in there for the marriage's sake.  But, the person doesn't get closer, they get farther away.  As a matter of fact there is no love there and they don't want to put forth the effort to get better for the relationship.  So, instead of trying to bend someone's will for your own gain, and you have tried hard to push through to the end and change within yourself, but there is no effort back, then it is time to let it go. 

Sometimes this act may help the partner to see you can go away too, and it helps to bring them closer to you.  But, usually, in this day and age, they are done and so is the marriage, even though I have always believed that ,"Love isn't what holds the marriage togehter sometimes, rather it is the committment to the marriage that holds love together".  So there the commitment to the commitment is the true issue, that and respect of the other person (which disrespect of the other person causes 100% of the fights in any arguement). 

After your bitter beer experience, you go through the tipsy, drunkeness and wake up the next day.  Maybe still a little dazed, a little groggy, maybe even making frequent trips to the porcelain god.  Throughout the day, you gather yourself and try to recooperate, although it is hard to even think about ever taking another sip of beer for as long as you live (deep inside, however, you know this won't be the case).

After a divorce, your left tipsy and in a spiritual drunken stuper.  Your dazed, groggy and maybe even have sickness related to it.  But, you make it through your day and try to recooperate (even though you have your bad moments and hard times with the feelings and disbelief of what is going on).  You may even say to yourself "I am never getting married again" (but in the back of your mind, you know this probably won't be the case).

After a bitter beer experience, I start checking the bottles and dates carefully, looking for any signs that the beer has sat too long or been marred in any way.  I am even hesitant about drinking the same brand that caused the incident, but if you keep your eyes opend and watchful, then you can tell that it is not the brand, but that sometimes it was just a fluke or even a learning experience in you partying life that you will carry with you forever.

Now after my marriage, I am looking for signs and carefully checking out my friendships, much less my possible future relationships.  I am even hesitant about finding the same kind of woman that my ex-wife was, but we must keep our hearts, minds, and eyes wide open and be watchful of things.  I may have been just a fluke where we just didn't get along as husband and wife, but this is one experience that I will take the life-lessons learned with me forever.

shamugla shamugla
31-35, M
2 Responses Feb 9, 2009

Shamugla- I found myself relating to your words very easily. I've been through that bitter beer experience and I'm now lucky enough to have learned from it and moved on. My partner and I through past experiences are totally committed to our relationship and I feel truly blessed. Wishing you all the very best

Thank you for the comments. I know a lot of people can relate, I only hope that you find a fix or are comfortable with the other outcome. I hate to see anyone suffer, and I know that hurting hearts have a lot of potential but also a lot of 'bitterness'. May your life find piece and a better beer experience instead of a bitter one.