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The Starter Husband

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WebMD Feature from "Marie Claire" Magazine

By Gretchen Voss

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You'd never buy a car without test-driving it first, right? So why settle into a lifelong marriage before trying one on for size?

"I'm just really not ready to be committed like this." That's what Andi said to Tucker, her husband of 11 months, after she came home from a crazy day at work two years ago with an overwhelming urge to quit her marriage. Today. Right now. "This just isn't for me."

She spoke stoically — no tears, no histrionics. She had been imagining this moment since she moved out of their condo a few months earlier, but she wanted to ease him into the inevitable — to somehow tiptoe her way through the minefield of Tucker's emotions. But now, having scored a direct hit with those crushing words, she watched Tucker crumple against the dining-room table. "I don't understand," he said, over and over. "We're married."

"Look, we can do this now, or we can do this five years from now when it's a lot messier," Andi said, softening her voice but not her position. "I want a divorce." The guy didn't really do anything to deserve this, she thought, looking at Tucker's ashen face. He must think I'm a monster. Watching her husband shuffle to the door of her temporary apartment, Andi felt awful. But mostly, she felt unbelievably relieved.

"I was married for, like, two seconds." That's what Andi says to me today, her enormous kohl-rimmed blue eyes crinkling as she recounts her drive-through union. "It was literally an entry-level marriage." We're sitting in a cafe in a funky Boston neighborhood known for its liberal attitudes and alternative lifestyles — this is where gay couples raise their children — and yet women are actually swiveling in their seats, doing indiscreet 180s to get a look at the impeccably coiffed, blonde-haired woman saying such things.

Hearing her words, I flinch slightly. We're talking about an event that's supposed to be a turning point in life, and she sounds so cavalier. And yet, Andi is only articulating what the one in five women under age 30 who get divorced every year must think.

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