The side effects of hormone replacement therapy are likely to make even Geoff Capes gulp. For those who manage to stare down the hairy cocktail of oestrogen and wait for their nipples to grow, they are likely to have to watch out for a few side effects. Risks are rife. Heart disease, kidney failure, strokes and liver problems are not uncommon. There is also the risk of blood clotting, acne, insomnia, anxiety attacks and mouth foaming seizures for those who don’t get the dosage quite right. Yikes. They are, though, just risks. Risks to be weighed up in the context of any medical procedure. Patients are not destined to lose a kidney or end up as a jabbering bag of nerves in a bus shelter, it’s just that they need to be considered. Carefully. There is, though, one side effect of HRT that is likely to be more difficult to avoid – as Robert Tur discovered. That being: divorce.
Divorce is as final as the brutal clipping of the gonads. Once it’s done it’s done. The lawyers go home happy, the protagonists go home to pick up the pieces and engage in a bitter life-long struggle for the affections of their children, or dog. Often both. Whilst lives have likely been lived separately for some time, divorce is the formal termination of the marriage, the cancelling of the bonds of matrimony that had been made so willingly in front of beaming friends and family, themselves keen only to get stuck in to the reception. Divorce courts vary across the world, but the acrid details are generally the same world over. The dirty laundry of marriage, aired for all to see. The more bronzed the flesh, the more silicon involved, the more public the airing. Depending on where a couple choose to divorce can have a material difference on the actual process. In places like Las Vegas, divorces are annulled over breakfast given the popularity of walking into the Love Chapel on the arm of a stripper mid-way through a three-day blowout. In Italy, though, laws are more traditional and divorce is a complicated and gritty affair. Ties are cut. Suits are slashed. The dog though, tends to follow the chum.
In the UK there are many reasons for divorce. Domestic violence is obviously going to move the heavy eye-brows of any judge, addictions such as alcohol and gambling also tend to see one half moving back in with the parents. Those whose insecurities and misplaced priorities leave them hunched over workplace desktops till all hours also run the risk of a spouse mulling the steady reliability of the local bin man. The most likely cause of divorce though is the all too familiar banana skin of a pretty work colleague, an old flame, a flirtatious conference delegate or, in the case of Ryan Giggs – a sister-in-law. Adultery. Sex with someone who is not the person you married.
In the UK a survey done by the management consultancy Grant Thornton discovered that it tended to be the husband who plays the wrong ball. It also found out that in those marriages characterised by thin-lipped luncheons and frosty car journeys home, it was the wife’s family which was the primary source of strain. Husbands are more likely to sleep with work colleagues; they are also more likely to wallop their wife. Over ninety percent of divorces are filed by the wife. Most go uncontested. The first five-years tend to be divorce free but then the niggles become bites. Habits harden. Sex becomes diarised. Twenty years remains the goal. Survive twenty-years of marriage and statistically you’re in It for life. As God willed. A 2010 study that was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family also found that girls who throw it around a bit at University are more likely to later need a divorce lawyer. Note to self: Don’t marry the college bike.
If the lawyers are the winners of an escalating divorce rate, it is the children who lose. The dog, contrary to what you might think, doesn’t really care. Divorce is a psychological wrecking ball. Children and adult offspring of divorced parents are more likely to be unhappy, get less satisfaction with life, and have less personal control. They are likely to be anxious, depressed, and emotionally brittle. A study in Sweden found that children who lived with one parent actually suffered more physical health problems such as headaches in addition to the obvious feelings of acute tension. Anger simmers. Parents often fail to appreciate the damage done to their children as they wage their petty war, denigrating the other, spreading lies and using children to pass on messages dripped in hatred and spy on their former bedfellow. And their former bedfellows’ bedfellow.
Those children involved in a bruising divorce experience something close to abuse. Smoking behind bike sheds, is a common response. So too drinking cider, avoiding eye contact, self-harm and setting fire to things. Often it’s not the divorce that does the damage though. It’s the years before. The slow, quiet creep of venomous hostility. The shattering of the family edifice, the hope that Mom and Dad don’t actually mean it. And crockery gets broken anyway. Girls and boys also handle the split differently. Whilst girls appear to cope better, studies have shown that their anger festers and often intensifies with age. Anger and sadness then, appear ubiquitous.
So that’s that then. Plenty to ponder.
“I’ve travelled the world and been about everywhere you can imagine. There’s not anything I’m scared of … except my wife” – Lee Trevino