The Least Likable Couple in the Vows Column

VOWS-1-articleLarge I've caught one of the several viruses sweeping through the house, so I'm not in top form at the moment. That's my disclaimer for the following admission – I'm watching Kathie Lee and Hoda.

Kathie Lee and Hoda were just talking about the Vows column in the New York Times. It caught the attention of several of my Facebook friends, too.

This couple were married to other people, fell in love, got divorced, and now are getting married to each other. Both couples had children. Spouses were hurt. Nothing new, just sad.

The reason that this column is gathering so much buzz is the language that the couple uses to justify their actions. They say that their relationship is a "gift." Their decision to break up their marriages was "brave." To stay in the previous marriages would have been "dishonest."

People get divorced and remarried all the time. This couple isn't particularly evil, but it is very strange that their sad affair would be confused with romance.


20 thoughts on “The Least Likable Couple in the Vows Column

  1. “They say that their relationship is a “gift.” Their decision to break up their marriages was “brave.” To stay in the previous marriages would have been “dishonest.””
    Very 1970s. If you listen carefully while reading that, you can hear the swish of bellbottoms.

  2. Yup. I had the same reaction. A very odd choice for the Vows column, and you had to wonder whether the point was to get us riled up, or if the writer actually thought the story romantic.

  3. It seems actively hostile to the couple for the Times to have opened up comments on this piece… must keep grading. must keep grading.

  4. “This couple isn’t particularly evil, but it is very strange that their sad affair would be confused with romance.”
    I agree that this particular story doesn’t belong in the Vows section, because others are likely hurt by its appearance.
    But I don’t think we can therefore presume that it’s not a romance.

  5. Dear Parents,
    Just a quick note from your Pre-K PTA chair. I know it has been an eventful year, but by pulling together and pulling apart, we’ve managed to make it through. As for birthday party invites and how to address them, please stop asking me. I’m not stepping into that mine field again.
    In spite of the challenges, this year’s book drive was the most successful ever, at least in terms of the number of books collected. That said, we may not have the drive next year as there were concerns about the suitability of the texts. As a precaution, we have removed all of the donated books from the classroom while the librarian checks to see if those really are the right words to Hop on Pop. Even if the books aren’t modified, Miss X has flatly refused to even put Fear of Flying on the shelf, no one had the nerve to tell her that a picture book edition of The Scarlett Letter exists.
    Lastly, I just want to remind everybody of the new dress code for parents. The sack cloth doesn’t need to be covered in ashes, but it must cover from mid-calf right to the neck.
    Best wishes for a happy new year,

  6. I’ll echo what others have said about it being a romance for *them.* But for the kids and the former spouses, it’s hardly that; at best it’s been a challenge, at worst it’s been a tragedy. It’s certainly a weird piece for a “Vows” column, but it’s also incredibly frustrating as a reader — I want to know how the kids have reacted, how the exes are handling it, and so on. I don’t want this one side, which is (cruelly, to my mind) invested in making it seem like a fairy tale.

  7. Well, since my 19 year old daughter was just disillusioned to find out the particulars of my parents (her grandparents) divorce in 1976, I can’t even imagine what it will be like for these kids and future grandchildren will think when viewing this column. It’s one thing to make this huge choice, it’s another to publicize it.

  8. They both work in media. They probably have publicists.
    A friend in middle school went through something similar. Her parents told her they were getting divorced on her birthday. I don’t think they were thinking of her best interests.

  9. When I was 9 the first girl in our class whose parents divorced (there were 50 of us) came to school the day after they had told her, and cried all day long. And then cried all the next day long. I’m sure their kids aren’t crying at school(that’s for working class kids) and have been told that it is better for everyone. The best you can hope for them is that they are very sad and very angry.
    Interesting that there is no real indication that either of them were deeply unhappy in their previous marriages. But to indicate that would be to suggest that they are failures, and these two have never, ever, been failures.
    But, like everyone, I’d like to see what the spouses have to say. Laura, invite them as guest bloggers.

  10. The best you can hope for them is that they are very sad and very angry.
    Now you know what to get them for their birthday, the LSAT Prep books.

  11. Uppper middle class kids cry at school, too. As they get older, they act out in other ways, which are self-destructive.
    When my friend’s parents divorced, I hadn’t had a child from a divorced familiy as a classmate. My children have had many, although as the cost of living’s so high in this town, the children who remain in the classroom tend to have remarried parents. Some parents have divorced during the 15 years or so my children have been in school. It’s wrenching, and hard on everyone, even if the previous marriage was sad and stressed.
    There’s an interesting kid culture emerging around divorce. Despite all the happy talk from psychologists and people quoted in newspapers, my daughter’s description of the child’s eye view is merciless. They do take it as a rejection of the family-that-was. Shifting from one house to another on a regular basis is not fun.
    There seems to be a trend of wealthier parent trying to buy affection or make amends with extravagant gifts. The kids my daughter hangs out with see through that. The only positive change I see at present is that so many people have divorced, there isn’t a child-of-divorce stigma. Adult friends will help each other.
    Given the couple’s age, though, I wonder if this wasn’t a rather unusual double midlife crisis. Rather than buy a Ferrari, they both fell madly in love.

  12. Repartnering also has the effect that your parent is attached intimately to someone who is competing with you for you parents’ attention. Any subsequent children get an actual family while you, the half-sibling, gets two broken ones. Then when you have kids, the effect magnifies. (Of course there are exceptions, like a widowed friend whom married a divorcee and is delighted to find that he has these new extra (adult) children to whom he can be a parent of sorts without having had to do any of the extra work usually associated with having more children. The literature on divorce is pretty clear that it is not (usually) good for children and is (usually) bad for them. We both have very divorced parents, and that adds another pressure to a family — I wish that just one of us had a family, it would make both our lives (and our kids lives) better.

  13. Rather than buy a Ferrari, they both fell madly in love.
    With a total of five kids in private school and divorce lawyers, I doubt they could afford the Ferrari.

  14. Harry B, exactly. As a child of divorce, I’ve always begged my husband that if something should happen to me or our relationship that he wait til the children were grown to remarry or get seriously involved. Thank god it hasn’t come to that for us.

  15. The picture is amazing. The only guest who looks remotely amused is the kids staring right at the cake. Wouldn’t you give a lot more than a penny for the grumpy old guys thoughts?
    I can just imagine the battle of wills that went on between the photo editor and Sipher. The photo ed is reading the happy, shiny copy, agape in horror, and decides to make his opinion known by picking a representative photo.

  16. Lisa V., my husband and I have that agreement too. I suspect we each have the impulse control to stick to it, but that may also be why we have not yet ended up divorced.
    We’ve witnessed the havoc that the rush of first love has on divorced kids when their parents start dating, moving in together, breaking up, dating, moving in, etc., and we are pretty agreed that we’d prefer not to drag our kid(s, soon) through it if possible. Never say never. But if you’re starting a club count us in. 🙂
    I know an ex-couple who did have such an agreement and stuck to it, and I really admire them. They accommodated each other’s requests for custody nights so that the other person could *date*, but never moved to any cohabitating until the kids were in their 20s.

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