"Divorce" is what we should call the Golden Bachelor's. What It Is Really

Theresa and Gerry weren’t married for long enough for their lives to become connected.

"Divorce" is what we should call the Golden Bachelor's. What It Is Really
“Divorce” is what we should call the Golden Bachelor’s.

This morning at 8:32, I was still fuzzy from making lunch, unloading the dishes, and taking my daughter to school, which is something I do every week when she’s with me. My phone rang, and it was a text message: “Who woulda thought? They are no longer together. I didn’t think they’d be together forever, but I thought they’d be too embarrassed to break up so soon. “Oh, I forgot, it’s reality TV.”

The message was from Ann, my friend and guide. She got hooked on The Golden Bachelor after reading Slate’s article about it. When the show’s finale aired last November, she was 67 years old and still single. Someone else? That took me a second to figure out. Well, there they were: Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist, the older couple who won when Gerry was the Bachelor for fifteen years. It’s officially done. You know what they say: “out of sight, out of mind.” When the couple’s three-month marriage ended on Friday, Scott Nover wrote in Slate that “the American attention span for Gerry and Theresa’s abbreviated love story had ended.”

I guess I can pay more attention to a few things at once, because I spent the whole day trying to figure out why the news about the Golden Couple’s split was making me so upset. I will admit that I watched every single episode of the whole season. I was even okay with their match by the end. But I thought their wedding, which was shown live on TV, was dull and gross. And as they talked about their future together in follow-up interviews, I couldn’t help but wonder: Were these two really going to leave their grandkids in Indiana and New Jersey and settle down in Charleston, South Carolina, as they said they would?

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We now know that the answer is no. They told Good Morning America on Friday morning that they were splitting up, just like they said they would. I won’t call it a split, though. In the best case, it’s a “divorce,” just like their union was a “marriage.” When a couple gets divorced, their belongings are split. The holidays with the family and spending time with the kids are talks. Choices about who gets how much of the retirement savings or the small car that everyone shares. When you get a divorce, you have to make hard choices, like ending your marriage.

There’s no way that Gerry and Theresa spent enough time together to make things happen that would normally lead to a divorce. And even if they had to have a lot of talks about breaking up—some couples take years to decide to get a divorce—how many talks could there have been? In January, they got married!

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They might fight over that Golden Bachelor money, but I don’t think it will happen. It looks like a deal that was made with ABC months ago after a lot of paperwork was exchanged. They didn’t have a joint bank account when they were married, so it’s likely that they each got paid through ACH and put the money in their own account. Don’t worry about that! Just in case it’s not clear yet, I’m talking from experience.

I got a divorce. Also, my ex-husband and I are very close, loving co-parents, and will always be family, which is probably one of the best breakup stories you will ever hear. Our house keys are in the same hand, and we see each other all the time. Our daughter stayed home with my second husband last weekend while I went to a show with my first husband. Do you understand that? Folks get lost all the time!

It wasn’t simple to get here, though. It was tough because getting split is tough! If you’re like us and don’t own a home and things are pretty simple, it’s hard to separate the years of shared life, things, and feelings. You might end up like us if everything goes well. We try to hide a lot of things when we break up with someone, but the mess is often so big that it can never be completely cleaned up. Everyone I know who is divorced does their best. But there is a certain kind of sadness that lasts, and it’s often much worse, even when things are getting along great.

I’m not upset that Gerry and Theresa won’t have to deal with this long-lasting mess. We should call the end of their “marriage” what it is: a breakup. Things didn’t work out because they couldn’t decide where to live. Even though the law calls it a divorce, it’s really just a broken engagement that didn’t last long.

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