When a Friend Gets Divorced: The Male Perspective

Earlier this week, when I decided to entertain the topic of how married men process the fact a close friend is getting divorced, I thought of several films I’ve seen over the years featuring orphans. Stay with me.

Have you ever watched an orphan movie? And I don’t mean the time you acted as a benevolent soul and took home that straight-to-video joint starring  Vivica Fox and Darius McCrary  (Eddie Winslow) from ‘Family Matters.’ You remember. The one that no one else was willing to take a chance on and upon wasting one hour and 42 minutes of your weekend, you didn’t know whether to pat yourself on the back for blindly supporting black cinema or smack yourself in the face.

Granted, it was charitable of you and your family to take home an unwanted movie, but that’s a different type of orphan movie, one abandoned by the studio system and the public. I’m referring to real orphan movies with the cliche villainous nuns, bloody British accents, the whole nine. But it’s another cliche also found in all orphan movies that’s applicable to the subject of men, friends and divorce.

Think of the long-faced kid, hands firmly pressed against the window, as he watches his friend -hell, maybe his brother -be whisked away in the backseat of a nondescript family sedan. As the kid mourns the loss of his running mate, he wishes that he, too, was in the car. And there it is:That’s the way the average married man feels when he’s informed that his buddy is separating from his wife -like an orphan waiting for his turn to be picked up.

Days will pass, but the feeling of being left behind won’t. Caught daydreaming, his wife will call to him and ask, “Honey, what are you doing?” as he blankly stares through the metaphorical window waving goodbye to his emancipated friend. He’ll snap out of it and reply, “Nothing, babe, nothing.” He’ll then find himself rubbing her feet as she goes on about her long day only to trample on the moment by blurting out, “So what the hell happened to that foot massager I bought you from Brookstone,anyway?” And that’s how the fight started.

The grass is greener on the other side. Men are interminably hopeless that way.No matter how good we have it at home -at least for those of us who have it good at home, because some men have it really bad (I mean really, really bad). I’m straying.No matter how good we have it at home, we think we want something different and, if not different, something more.

Deep down, embedded in our subconscious, we long for a harem of women that will serve our guiltiest of pleasures with the caveat that we don’t have to pay for their health insurance, their car note, their meals or their toothpaste. We want to get our‘Charlie Sheen’ on, minus the increasingly creepy antics and the high beams he traded in for his eyeballs. “Give us free!”

The point is that men, especially those of us who are married, are never satisfied.We forget why we got married. Of course, love is a big part of the equation -at least it should be. But there are also self-serving reasons. Many of us marry so that we have someone to save us from ourselves. We’re creatures of self-destruction. We know this because we’re self-aware creatures of self-destruction. We break things.

Yet when a buddy announces his divorce it’s like an avalanche of envy falls on our heads. “What? You’re getting paroled? I wish I could come with you. Write me letters and let me know what it’s like out there. Tell me everything.” In that moment, both parolee and lifer oblivious to the high marital recidivism rate. He’ll be back.

Eventually, his friend realizes he’s been inside so long. He’s not equipped or prepared for the outside world, the single life. Sure, the idea was exciting at first. But then he finds himself perusing the pages of dating sites as if he were shopping on human eBay. He begins to yearn for the type of stability he once had. It’s the delusional circle of life; we always over-romanticize what we once had, yet voluntarily let go.

So, in the end, it all balances out. Besides, dinner is ready. The husband left behind steps away from the window and back into his not-so-bad reality. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

By: Mason Jamal/Blackvoices.com

Mason Jamal writes about men, women and popular culture. For more of his musings, visitmasonjamal.com.