Love will keep us together

January 23, 2014 § 30 Comments

Divorce makes me sad. My parents did it, and every time I think about it, it makes me sad. Our local peloton is filled with people like me whose parents are divorced or who themselves are divorced or, hardest of all, who are going through divorce.

Breaking the marital bonds is often for the good. Once the rupture is done the scar tissue can begin to heal the wound. Lots of people come out of divorce happier, better adjusted, and with a new lease on life.

When I read that the Captain and Tenille had filed for divorce in Arizona after 38 or 39 years of marriage, it made me sad. Not because they were making the wrong decision — no one on the outside can ever understand what’s happening on the inside — but because the media couldn’t resist making fun of them. Their hit 1975 single, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” earned them a Grammy. Written by Neil Sedaka, who discovered them performing at a dive bar in Burbank, it’s a great song. Simple, catchy, powerful, and true. “I guess love couldn’t keep them together” was the running gag line, sharp like a razor, tossed gleefully at them in their pain.

The Captain apparently has a severe Parkinsons-like neurological disease that makes it impossible for him to play keyboards or even go out in public, and TMZ juicily reported that he was blindsided by the filing. Why anyone would shove so much happiness in this old, ill man’s face is beyond me, except for this one fact: people are cruel.

Love really will keep us together

I don’t have any special respect or admiration for marriage. It works for some people, it doesn’t work for others. Marriage is no more meaningful or important or wonderful or honorable than what the partners put into it, get out of it, and expect from it.

What I do respect and admire is people who make the effort to hang onto relationships they care about, whether it’s a spouse or a friend or a riding buddy or someone at work. Human relationships are nasty, bloody, painful affairs, but when we work on them they give us something we can get from nowhere else except maybe a dog or a cat. The marriage of 40 years is no more impressive than the marriage of 6 months because both take the same daily effort and elbow grease required for the relationship to make it to the following day.

That effort is what keeps us together, riding our bikes together or sleeping in the same bed or being there to take my California phone call in frozen Illinois. I call it love.

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§ 30 Responses to Love will keep us together

  • velobob says:

    Sometimes….like this time….I prefer reading your non-cycling specific stuff to the cycle-centric material. Today’s post is a masterpiece! Thank you.

  • Uncle Jam's Army says:

    My wife and I were ready to divorce each other after four months of marriage. In fact, she filed for divorce at that time and we separated. We reconciled and were happy for a few years and then things went really bad. In hindsight, the things we fought about were all bullshit, mostly mine. We reinstated the old divorce case, separated, and this time for good. Not only were we on the courthouse steps, we were inside the courtroom to formalize the stipulated judgment of divorce we had negotiated. Somehow, my wife convinced me to pull back from that brink and to give our marriage one last shot. I agreed.

    That was seven years ago. We celebrated our 10-year anniversary this past year. I am so lucky she had the wisdom to pull us back from divorce and to give our marriage another shot. Though we have had our share of arguments and conflicts during that time, I can say that the last seven years have been the best of my life. And I’d like to believe that that stability has been important and beneficial to our two young boys in some unquantifiable but palpable way.

    I understand that divorce may be the best outcome for some people, and I totally respect that. After all, I was convinced that is what I needed to do and that is what would have happened but for my wife’s persuasive powers at the eleventh hour. But for those that decide to stick with each other, through all the differences, arguments, and nocturnal farts/snores, there can be a very good (dare I say, great) life there for you and your family.

    • fsethd says:

      There’s no right answer, right? Every day is just as hard as the day before, except, of course, for the days that are harder. Or easier.

  • Married for 30 years. I would not trade a new road bike for my child bride. I am so lucky.

    • fsethd says:

      A lot of people realize after 30, 40, 50 years that they’re miserable. A lot of others realize they’re lucky to have the relationship.

  • Sr Geezer Johan says:

    +1 Really enjoy your soft-sided-humanesque-non-cycling prose. You seem to always put the right words in the right order in the right context to help us mortals navigate some of the emotional peaks and valleys of life.

  • spinner says:

    I went through a nasty divorce and was asked by a riding friend what it was like. I told him to get a very sharp ice pick and put it on the night stand next to his bed. When he wakes up in the morning immediately jab the ice pick into his eye. A divorce hurts just a little less….Oh well…

    Good post…

  • Peter Schindler says:

    Divorce always sucks. No one gets married to get divorced. Divorce is the end of a dream. And no matter how much you might hate each other, it still hurts when it comes time to sign the papers. Seth, thanks for a very moving piece of writing.

  • Hwy. 39 says:

    I’ve read speculation that C&T are divorcing due to his neurologic condition. When facing crippling medical and long-term care bills, many couples have found that divorce can ensure the surviving spouse remains solvent. Musicians don’t have an employer that gives them insurance. Being insured as an individual is brutally expensive for piss-poor catastrophic coverage. Love may keep them together, but medical bills can tear any marriage apart.

    • fsethd says:

      That’s what I’ve heard, too, which made the cruel headlines more cruel still. That’s what Woody Guthrie’s wife had to do in order to get him permanent end of life care.

    • Tom says:

      The Captain is in his 70s (Tennile, too) and therefore on Medicare, but I dont know what coverage Medicare would provide for his condition.

  • Robert C in RB says:

    I married my wife over 22 years ago, it was the best thing I’ve ever done and I shutter to think what my life would be without her. Yes, it isn’t always a bed of roses, but it’s WORTH IT to work at it and certainly less painful than divorce.

  • 900aero says:

    If you want to know what divorce is like, find a woman/man that you dislike intensely and buy them a house. The alternative is far better.

    • fsethd says:

      I’ve been through it as a kid, and the real thing was bad enough. But I know a lot of people whose lives have immeasurably improved as a result of splitting up. There aren’t any pat answers (yes, I know that’s a pat answer).

    • Tom says:

      heh, and also pay therm a monthly stipend to support them in the “lifestyle they are accustomed to”.

  • Word….or maybe…amen. Yeah, I like that. Just put me down for:

  • Erik says:

    My wife has been best-friends with her older sister for her entire adult life. I moved far away from the mountains, and the lifestyle I once felt was indispensable, to be with my wife. Upon arriving in my new flyover country home 10 years ago, I embraced my wife’s sister and her husband with the love and admiration of a younger sibling. We were their most ardent and supportive cheerleaders.

    When it was our turn to negotiate some of the big life hurtles that my in-laws did (buying our first home, having children), the support and love was not reciprocated. They were busier than us, and a few steps further down the road of life. No worries, what goes around comes around eventually. But the guilt. Oh, the fucking guilt. Suddenly we were awful friends because we couldn’t always be there for kids birthday parties, or we weren’t visiting them on weekends with the frequency we once did.

    Finally, when we put our foots down, and said ‘no more’, to the guilt, we were cut off. We’ve been written out the will – we’re no longer the god-parents of our nephews. We’re horrible, abusive people (I once struck a dog that was chewing on a shoe, ya know, but I didn’t wear my shame as conspicuously as I should have). Offers to have a mediator help us resolve the resentments have been met with outright rejection.

    It hurts every day – to see my wife has lost her best friend because she chose to stand up for herself. We’ve benefited from this loss, but it doesn’t make it any less painful.

    As a child of divorce, I can’t say I like it, and I would probably counter-productively chose to live a life of abject misery than ever go through it myself, or subject my children to it. Luckily my wife and I love each other as much as the day we married, and our disgreements are most often about how to load the dishwasher and fold the clothes.


    • channel_zero says:

      It hurts every day – to see my wife has lost her best friend because she chose to stand up for herself.

      She didn’t lose a best friend, her “best friend” wouldn’t accept the loss of her cheerleader/fan club. Or something like that.

      Friends are people that will value her/you no matter your life circumstances and be honest with you when it is important to the relationship.

      Do not waste energy on that relationship.

      • Erik says:

        You guys are both right. And it’s funny to think how stupid my words sound quoted back at me in itallics. it still hurts, but I guess I’m not sure why anymore. Indeed they have lost out, and the last time I ever spoke to my brother-in-law, I told him exactly that.

    • fsethd says:

      Sounds like the people who lost out is them.

  • Jeff says:

    My parents got divorced, remarried and then divorced again. I wished that they had never remarried and felt relief when my father had to work late. I made a mistake with a first marriage and will forever miss the day to day raising of my sons that never happened. Divorce is horrible and takes years off your life but I was fortunate to find a partner to carry on with and my sons and I have weathered those years..

    As Warren Zevon put it : Nothing left but the sound of the front door closing forever. (from “The Indifference of Heaven”)
    RIP Warren 1/24/47 – 9/7/03

    Thanks, Seth for your posts. I enjoy your non SoCal scene posts so much better.

  • Hello fsethd-san and All,

    I probably would not ordinarily respond since I know little of divorce …. but yesterday was our 60th Anniversary ….. and it was sort of a non event ….. went by with just a sweet whisper …… another ordinary day.

    I think we would be just as happy together married or …… not married as many of the modern generation practice …….. without the legal benefits of marriage ….. which we have always just taken for granted.

    On a side note I was at in El Monte a few days ago ordering a couple of killer new wheels ….. and while waiting spied the Cycling Illustrated magazine on the used disk wheel coffee table.

    Not familiar with the magazine ….. I flipped it open ….. and lo ….. it featured the irreverent columnist Seth Davidson (with a warning for gentle readers) ……… who knew?

    And on another side note …. a few weeks ago my wife (remember the one I married 60 years ago?) and I were taking our granddaughter to the theater in LA at about 19:30 …. and as I was trying to get off the one way street which was going the wrong way near the courthouse …… Elliot walked in front of us at a crosswalk. I yelled out the window ….”I know you!” ….. and he walked over to the car and said, “I know you too!” …. he did not of course … but I recognized him from the picture you posted. We talked for a few minutes …. I told him he was famous now as he had been profiled by Seth Davidson ……. he is a vet (as you mentioned) and so am I ….. I gave him a sawbuck and he commented, “well, that will buy a half” and we both moved on …………… and I was kinda wishing I gave him more.



    +1 mph Faster

  • Bern says:

    You got some aspects of marriage and divorce right and some completely wrong.
    You’ll figure it out when you’ve been married for 30 or 40 years.
    Cheers and thanks for the blog.

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