LAS VEGAS – On this heated and dry day in April, the whole city is breathing and heaving like a tired beast. On the strip that controls all the luxurious hotels, cursing motorists are melting down encased in a steeled impotence, trapped in a horrendous gridlock. But come hell or high water, people flock here to untie the knot.
Here, divorce is simply about the villain and the victim. It is who got cheated and who got left — the agony of the dumped. It will always be a conundrum, how dramatically love can turn around.
In this city of quickie divorce, layers of emotional smog pollutes the atmosphere in any lawyer’s office. The time a divorcing couple spends in a court room is brief. After the judge denies alimony, the main action of a mediation session is in crowded hallways (not exactly the most special place for dramatic partings), where offers and counter offers are tendered. Some cry out and lament “extortion!” The corridor minuet is simply all about pay off or some equivalent symbol of revenge — like a demand that the mate burn in hell for eternity, if such a request were enforceable.
Divorce is a real life altering event. Couples argue over custody, division of estates, whose value depends on who is counting or hiding assets. Some try and fail miserably to keep as much mud off their public images, especially tabloid fodder celebrities, but there are only two emotions that people feel in a divorce case: anger and guilt. These emotions are played by gladiators in a melodrama of greed, hurt, outrage, shock and disbelief. Believe me, gentle readers I know what I’m rattling about.
It is said that the freedom to luxuriate in self pity is one of the consolations of a marriage gone wrong. Whether one is ending a long marriage, in which one was mostly happy (or mostly miserable), or a shorter relationship, one needs time to grieve the ending.
People choose the wrong mate, or cheat on them because they’re bored or begin to loathe the spouses they once adored. Lie, trick and obfuscate when all that are at stake is half their net worth and their emotional equilibrium.
The soon-to-be former wife will be surely saddling him with tremendous legal bills. The scorned woman will use whatever she can and subscribe to such strategy as well, when it is expedient and some times bordering on what is considered ethical.
The catalogue of fear and insecurity that bedevils these disgruntled and miserable uncoupling couples are as deep as the Grand Canyon and just as hard to fill up.
“I’ll be financially ruined and no woman wants to date a pauper.”
“I’ll become a bag lady. I’ll lose contact with my children and they’ll never forgive me.”
“He will get off easy because he has hidden money in off shore kids accounts.”
“She will skip town and run away with my kids.”
“He will marry an obnoxious bimbo who’ll be an influence on my children…”
These fears are enormous but the deadliest is “I’ll be alone and die!”
On the other hand, no one can ever discount the possibility that people can be positively transformed by the crucible of divorce. That woman who has never had a control of finances and can’t even balance a check book, much less, manage investments, will somehow learn to become her own person. Women that start out scared but at the end, they become both psychologically and financially stable.
But for the Moonlighter and the late Mr. de Leon, during decades of an almost blissful marriage, even on our countless spars, divorce was never considered. Murder, oh many times, but to divorce was definitely out of the question!