I always find it icky when wedding announcements mention the couples' previous loves - anything from 'The bridegroom's previous marriage ended in divorce' to a cutesy anecdote about how when the couple met, they were both involved with other people. It's not that I think there's anything remotely icky about having been involved with others prior to meeting your spouse. It's that I think it's wrong to involve these other parties in the story, as though their role in the world, their only reason in all likelihood for ever getting written up in a newspaper, is to be the nameless loser who failed to impress.
(Also icky: announcements that mention the 50 times the couple broke up and got back together again. Not confidence-inspiring. Also: announcements that mention how one or both parties were 'not attracted to' the other for the first 15 years - or 15 minutes - they knew each other. Perhaps this is meant to show that theirs is a deeper love, but it always comes across as insulting. Count me in the Dan Savage camp of thinking it's if anything a good sign for its longevity if a relationship begins based on mutual physical attraction.)
These tales are particularly upsetting when young children from the previous relationship are involved. Even Dan Savage thinks couples should at least try to stay together for the sake of the children. Remember, social conservatives, rah-rah support of parents who 'follow their hearts' is not part of any reasonable socially liberal stance, either. In the 1980s, perhaps, but not for a generation who knows how this plays out.
This week's Vows, however, takes it to a new level.
Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla met in 2006 in a pre-kindergarten classroom. They both had children attending the same Upper West Side school. They also both had spouses. [...]
But it was hard to ignore their easy rapport. They got each other’s jokes and finished each other’s sentences. They shared a similar rhythm in the way they talked and moved. The very things one hopes to find in another person, but not when you’re married to someone else. [...]
In May 2008, Mr. Partilla invited her for a drink at O’Connell’s, a neighborhood bar. She said she knew something was up, because they had never met on their own before.
“I’ve fallen in love with you,” he recalled saying to her. She jumped up, knocking a glass of beer into his lap, and rushed out of the bar. Five minutes later, he said, she returned and told him, “I feel exactly the same way.” Then she left again.
As Mr. Partilla saw it, their options were either to act on their feelings and break up their marriages or to deny their feelings and live dishonestly. [...]
The pain he had predicted pervaded both of their lives as they faced distraught children and devastated spouses, while the grapevine buzzed and neighbors ostracized them.The couple left roadkill of their families, but just had to put their wedding in the Times, for others to celebrate. Celebrate, or judge - whereas if they'd simply gone and done this, others would only judge if they knew the couple personally, now it's universal fair game. The paper made the unusual move to allow comments on the announcement. Many of which say, in essence, that the couple are selfish narcissists. This was not a case of divorce as a result of abuse, verbal or physical. It was a straight-up case of grass-is-greener - a fine reason to end a relationship at 17, but a truly upsetting one in a case like this. Blech.
And there are Jezebel commenters, seemingly planted by Withywindle, to prove once and for all that society's going to hell in a handbasket, and perhaps that they don't make things like they used to. Even leaving aside the commenters who can't tell the difference between having broken up with one guy to date another and leaving a spouse and children, or who think it's so so wrong to judge, even though hello, they put it in the newspaper, there's a whole lot of impressiveness. The couple's relationship is "authentic," according to either two commenters or one especially prolific one, I don't remember. But my favorite of all, from a commenter who makes clear she definitely does not want anyone thinking of the children: "I understood making fun of the cluelessness of the article and the yuppiedom of the couple, but y'all...they did not personally cheat on you." Yes, "the yuppiedom of the couple." Because that's the issue here.