Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Too Many Choices?

How many of us have looked at that old t-shirt in our drawer and wondered why we even keep it.  The color is faded, it may be too small or too big.  Misshapen or full of a few select holes, it still feels the most comfortable and is the wardrobe choice we go to when we want comfort, consistency and a sense of the familiar.

To liken marriage or divorce to wearing an old t-shirt is not completely a perfect analogy, but it may work as we talk about late life divorce.  According to an article in AARP's magazine from November 2012 called Why Long Married Couples Split   one of the reasons we see more later life divorces is because of a change in the number of real or perceived life choices.

Boomers live longer and like an old t-shirt, marriages fade and become less than they were in some respects as people age.  The colors may not be as vibrant, the "fit" may be different than before, and we may just tire of the look.  Boomers who have this attitude become discontent and begin to look around for a new choice.

People have always had choices about their marriages,  but maybe we have too many choices today.  Once we interacted with our immediate neighbors , family and a smaller local community.  Today we interact with hundreds of people via social media and email and our personal phones.  Once people expected to live with one person, grow old and somewhat complacent with one person and were content with a less-than-perfect relationship.  Today we think our relationship should always be vibrant, exciting and meeting our needs.

Too many choices and options can be bad.  It is a proven fact that our ability to make a good choice lessens when we have too many choices.  Experiments have shown that we are more likely to buy a home when we are given three houses to look at when house shopping rather than ten and we are more apt to buy ice cream when given just a few flavors to choose from rather than dozens and dozens.  Too many choices can cloud our thinking and cause poor decision making.

My thinking is to be careful what we PERCEIVE are our options.  Maybe we need to come back to our old t-shirt.  Adult children of divorce know what it is for a parent to obtain a new wardrobe in place of what is known and well-worn.  Maybe choosing what is comfortable, familiar and known , isn't such a bad idea after all.

The decision is maybe more about the choice to value the intrinsic worth of something that is cherished for past and present function and memory, especially in a long term marriage,  rather than agree with the "out with the old, in with the new" mentality.

I think if the old t-shirt still fits, in some way, shape or form,  wear it!!!

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