The Starter Husband
By Gretchen Voss
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
"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.
After graduating from college, Andi jetted off to culinary school in Paris,
then switched to journalism, where she climbed the ranks, moving from one
semiglamorous job to the next — all the while hooking up, dating, dumping, and
moving on. She's a perfectly modern gal, a gorgeous mess of neuroses and
contradictions — the kind who never pictured herself married by 27, divorced by
28, and remarried with two toddlers at 35.
But along the way, she met Tucker. "He was what I was supposed to marry.
He was what everybody else in my life wanted for me and what the world tells
you you're supposed to want," she says. "I got sucked into the idea. I
was in my 20s, and I felt like there was so much pressure from my family to
find the perfect person. I just felt like, God, I'd be stupid if I didn't do