When Ian Coss decided to get married, every living member of his family who had ever been married had also gotten divorced: parents, grandparents, and all his aunts and uncles on both sides — some of them twice. Today, he has questions: What is the value of a lifetime commitment? Are we doomed to recycle the patterns of behavior we get from our ancestors? Are we all just better off alone? Forever is a Long Time is a five episode series that weaves reflection and original music through Ian’s conversations with his wife and divorced family members — a look at love with people who have made mistakes.
When I decided to get married, every living member of my family who had ever been married had also gotten divorced. Apparently, I thought my marriage would end differently.
My parents divorced when I was eight years old — young enough that I don’t have a lot of clear memories of it, but old enough that I was definitely watching, listening, and learning. So I asked them both to tell me what happened, and got two pretty different stories.
My grandmother never sent presents for birthdays or holidays, and didn't expect us to either. She seemed to resist anything that felt like authority, convention and tradition; which is why it's so strange that she was once married to my grandfather — a Harvard-educated lawyer.
The idea of a lifetime commitment can feel impossible, when it can still fall apart in year 20, or year 30, or 35. My own parents’ marriage never made it that far, but some of my aunts and uncles did, only to find that after all those years, they too were better off apart.
Most divorces in my family bring some sense of relief. It may take three years to get there, or it may take thirty years, but once it’s over, it feels pretty clear that this is for the best. But it’s not so clear for my Uncle Eric’s relationship.
My aunt Rari divorced her husband so completely and so long ago that I don’t even know the man’s name. She tells me that story and about the life she built without him. It makes me contemplate the value of a life spent alone — but also of lifelong companionship.
I’m doing a live show based on this series — complete with visuals, music and sound design. I’ll be in New York and Boston, details and ticket links below:
Dec 8th @ 6:30 PM, The PRX Podcast Garage in Allston, MA
Dec 14th @ 7:00 PM, The Green Space at WNYC
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