Over time I have come to a sobering realization: all around are relationships at a standstill. They are not divorcing anytime soon, but they are living in an environment lacking some combination of companionship, intimacy and whimsy. It is akin to an unemployed person who no longer looks for work.
It is best described by a very close friend who, still in shock, shared the comment of one of long time drinking buddies, “Yeah, me and the wife are going to stay together until our youngest one gets in to college. Then we’re done. Definitely we’re getting a divorce.”
For most of my life, I have surmised (incorrectly) from the upbeat mood of a social event that the couples present are engaged and catalyzed by each other. The shine of the event is literally spillover from the fruits of productive relationships.
But in truth, most if not virtually all these events do not compel spouses to socialize together the way a three legged race requires tightly coordinated, tandem motion to win the race. The social occasions allow interactions as individuals.
This distracts away from the truth of the matter. One may incorrectly conclude (as I have) that the laughing, ruminating, and listening one sees in the individuals means the twosomes are therefore close, affectionate, and supportive away from this scene. All the trappings of healthy relationships.
What we don't see is the chemistry when the couples are back in their cars, heading home, nor how they engage once under their own roof. Many years ago, a Married Encounter weekend termed this as "married singles." I ponder that observation a lot.