Marriage Monday – Do you have a “dealbreaker”?

I feel a bit sheepish admitting this, but I’ve been following the split between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes relatively closely. I’m not so far gone that I’m seeking the information out myself but if yahoo is featuring an article on the divorce, I’ll read it – if Good Morning America covers it, I’ll watch. Like so many people, I find myself cheering wildly on the inside for Katie Holmes with nothing more than tabloid fodder to substantiate such an emotional reaction.  Katie Holmes and I pretty close to the same age (she’s two years younger than I am) and I loved watching her on “Dawson’s Creek” as well as her early foray into movies, particularly “Wonder Boys.”  I wouldn’t consider her my favorite actress but I found her extremely talented. When she and Tom announced their romance the whole thing just felt too weird for words and while it was tempting to fall down  the rabbit hole wondering whether she was pregnant or not or whether Scientology had corrupted her or not I mostly just ceased paying attention because really, there are only so many hours in a day and if you spent too many of them thinking about Suri, Tom and Katie the chances of finishing Anna Karenina are even less than they were to begin with.

But their split? I am paying attention to it if only because of the lengths Katie went to distance herself from Tom. From disposable cell phones to lining up lawyers in three different states, Katie did her damndest to ensure she had primary custody of Suri and that she would be the one in charge of her “spirit” and education.  If we take at face value that it really was because of Tom’s desire to send Suri away to Scientology school for her education and Katie’s steadfast determination to prevent any such thing from happening, then I think we know what Katie’s dealbreaker is – separation from her daughter and/or her daughter’s participation in Scientology.

All of this has me thinking about “deal breakers” in marriage.  I would hope that verbal or emotional abuse would be a deal breaker for everyone reading my blog – infidelity I think is a little trickier. I am at a point in my marriage where I honestly would like to *think* if S. cheated on me it would be a deal breaker but ultimately I am not sure at all I could do that to Evangeline – I honestly don’t even like speculating on it and instead just remain grateful that S. is the wonderful man he is!

In term of deal breakers in our household, I really believe that if I enforced a vegetarian or vegan diet on the household S. would at least consider leaving me.  It might sound funny to an outsider but S. is a meat and potatoes kind of guy – his girlfriend prior to me criticized his adoration of bacon and he made tracks faster than Mitt Romney running from his history with Bain.  He eyes the tofu and soy-based food I buy for my lunches with the utmost trepidation and groans out loud if he witnesses me making overnight oatmeal complete with chia seeds.  It’s been a bit surprising to see him remain so steadfast on this even as we move to our mid-thirties – a time even the most dedicated meat eaters often consider a vegetarian night or two a week, but he remains as serious as ever on this and I know that if I were to become really passionate about this issue it would cause a serious rift at the very least.

A deal breaker for me, potentially, would be if S. were to  return in a serious way to his Catholic faith. I’m not bringing this up here to start an argument – I think there is a lot that is magnificent and lovely about the Catholic church, but I also know I could not allow my daughter to be raised in that faith.  If S. took his faith to the point where, for instance, he didn’t want us practicing birth control or became one of those people protesting with hideously blown-up abortion photos in front of Planned Parenthood – well, either of those would be a deal breaker for me.  It’s easy to say, of course, that this would never happen but we’ve also witnessed his father return to the faith recently – he advocated strongly for a Catholic presence at Evangeline’s baptism which we didn’t agree to accommodate.  To be clear – if S. ever chooses to worship as a Catholic, I would be okay with it – but I do not consider Catholic school an option for our daughter.

Do you believe in deal breakers, or does the very concept violate the vows you took? Do you have deal breakers of your own?

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9 Responses to Marriage Monday – Do you have a “dealbreaker”?

  1. Amanda says:

    I don’t know that I could ever get over extreme financial irresponsibility like spending all our savings without my consent or taking on massive amounts of credit card debt. We’ve worked so hard to get to where we are now and we are still a long way from where I’d like to be in terms of financial security. Violence towards me or my daughter is absolutely not ever going to be tolerated- fortunately none of these things are likely to happen.

    I know what you mean about infidelity. I used to think it would be the end of the world but now – while I certainly would not be happy about it I would have to carefully weigh up the long term consequences. Also, I guess people can make mistakes and I can see a difference between an impulsive, much regretted one off and a situation of long term ongoing betrayal and lies

  2. smithereens says:

    Violence, substance abuse, endangering our child come to mind but it’s a bit theoretical. Doing something totally out of character or keeping for long an elaborate lying scheme would probably seriously break the trust between us. For me deal breaker is a bit like trust breaker — but I would probably leave the door open to reconciliation.
    Re S “groaning out loud if he witnesses me making overnight oatmeal complete with chia seeds”, lol… I used the recipe you pinned on pinterest (minus the chia seeds, totally unavailable in Paris), and Mr. S reaction to the bowl in the fridge: “there’s something weird in there… is it rotting? it’s for you isn’t it?”

  3. I *think* there are only two deal-breakers for me, good Catholic girl that I am — support for Planned Parenthood notwithstanding 😉

    Any kind of violence directed toward me or any future children is a no-brainer — I would be gone in five seconds — but that’s outside my scope of imagination in terms of Kyle’s behavior. I’m at an early point in my marriage, and infidelity seems a deal-breaker at this point. But first of all, it’s probably a lot less black and white with children, and secondly, it’s probably less black and white when one actually finds oneself in that situation.

    There are definitely “deal benders” for me — things that would put a serious strain on our marriage, that would horrify and depress me… but that I would be resolved to work through (and hopefully change!) Hardcore veganism and religious zealotry both come to mind as changes that would be very difficult to live with.

  4. Jen says:

    I have been following the divorce today, and was really surprised at how quickly they settled things. The whole thing was bizarre and icky from the beginning.

    I have a little too close for comfort experience with dealbreakers. I won’t go into detail here (maybe over that night out we have planned at Kaya sometime!) but I can say without a doubt that you have no idea how you’ll react to a situation until you are faced with it. Most people say “oh, sure, I’d leave if X or Y happened, no doubt…” but I’m here to tell you that in real life, when that X or Y really happens, it’s so much harder than you can ever imagine.

  5. litlove says:

    I think that things to do with children are often dealbreakers. We are very very tender about them. I do tend to agree with Jen that we never quite know how we’ll feel until confronted with something. I have a horrible feeling that I am sympathetic about all sorts of things and have plenty of compassion for all kinds of self-abusive behaviour but if Mister Litlove started them up I would NOT be happy. I don’t think I’m so tolerant within the bounds of my own house.

  6. Courtney says:

    Oh, Amanda – I completely agree with you. For some reason I hadn’t thought about extreme financial issues but I would really struggle to get over irresponsibility in that arena as well. It is tremendously hard to get ahead financially these days – S. and I struggle with that. I would really freak over going a step backward because of something he did w/out consulting me…

    Smithereens – how did your oatmeal turn out w/out the chia seeds? the chia seeds absorb the water content from the milk and fruit so it turns into a custard like thing…I am wondering what the texture is like without them?

    • smithereens says:

      Just creamy (alright Mr S would say gooey). I tried with fresh mango it was great! Otherwise with strawberry jam I cooked earlier this month it’s delicious. It tastes better than it looks though.

  7. Emily Barton says:

    I’ve never really thought about this, but I guess one deal breaker for me would be if my husband suddenly insisted he be the sole bread winner in the family, that he would take over all financial matters, and that he wanted me never to work again. There’s something in me that would see that as a real power shift in our relationship, my becoming the equivalent of a 1950s house wife, granted an allowance.

  8. Vanessa says:

    I enjoyed reading the above responses. For me it would be if my spouse wanted to become self-employed.

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