Wednesday, January 9, 2013

After the Thrill is Gone

I do not believe that my father and mother loved each other when they got married. After all, their marriage was practically arranged. My paternal and maternal grandmothers, who were classmates in culinary school, (sotto voce) connived to make the union happen.  To say the least my compliant mother had to dump her then love interest to wed my father.

Fortunately, my parents stuck to their till-death-do-us-part vow  through nearly 60 years and the trials and heartaches of raising five children. Their commitment must have been for eternity. Both in their mid '70s, they passed on nearly one after the other. My dad  went first in March of 2004. My mom followed in August of the same year.

These days older couples are separating for a different reason: divorce.

According to Susan Brown, author of The Gray Divorce Revolution, the divorce rate among couples 50 years old and older doubled between 1990 and 2009.

Studies, including one made by the Association of American Retired Persons (AARP) in 2004, indicated that two-thirds of the divorces were initiated by women.Studies, including one done by AARP in 2004, report that women initiate the process two-thirds of the time.

While there were no specific findings as to the cause of the breakups, Susan Brown offered reasons relating to economics, personal satisfaction and self-fulfillment.

Apparently, the phenomenon, while puzzling and alarming, is not limited to humans.

After growing up together and eventually being a pair for 115 years, romance petered out and  Bibi and Poldi,  two tortoises in a zoo in Austria could no longer stand each other. Zoo staffers had to separate them thereby  ending what was the world's oldest known "animal marriage."

The aggression was  reportedly started by Bibi who, one day seemingly tired of Poldi's attentions, hauled off and bit his shell compelling zoo staffers to transfer Poldi to another enclosure.

Zoo staffers did all they can to rekindle the couple's interest in each other including providing them with "romantic food" and opportunities for "joint games." Unfortunately, no effort at reconciliation worked and the two tortoises remained estranged.

Obviously, the thrill was gone.

Below is a photo of Bibi and Poldi during happier times.

Photo from the Austrian Times
- Ariel Murphy