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August 24, 2007

The Starter Husband

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Andi takes a throaty slug of her second raspberry martini, picks at her fish taco, then sits back in her chair. “I think marriage is the new dating and having kids is the new marriage,” she proclaims loudly, as yet another woman dining with her partner turns to stare. “It’s true. I wouldn’t have married him if I didn’t think I could get out of it.”

Despite how it sounds, Andi is not a first-class bitch. She’s the type who will hunt down the most perfectly thoughtful baby gift or whisk you off to a much-needed mani-pedi after your boss goes nuclear on you. But when it comes to relationships, her attitude is pure pragmatism: Clearly she’d screwed up — best to press delete. And I bet there isn’t a married woman out there, if she’s really honest, who hasn’t flirted with the thought of doing the same. I know there have been days in my own five-year marriage when I’ve dreamed of reclaiming my freedom. Not many, but a few. But then I wake up, not just because I love the guy — and I’m damned lucky to have him — but because I’m married. That is supposed to mean something.

Andi was my introduction to the concept of an icebreaker marriage but certainly not my last. Burning through a starter husband is almost becoming a rite of passage: While newly-marrieds everywhere fear the one-in-two-marriages-fail statistic, the more relevant stat is that while the median age at which a woman first marries is 25, the median age at which she first divorces is 29. In fact, 20 percent of marriages fail within five years, and of those, one in four end within two years. So much for until death do us part.


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