Saturday, December 09, 2006

I'm an optimistic fellow, and I assume that I will be married exactly once, and it will end when the sun goes supernova.

It's a common joke that in order to get promoted to Captain at Air Canada, you have to have been divorced. I did some checking and it appears the rate of divorce in Canada by the 30th anniversary is around 35%. Higher if you live in Quebec (48%) and lower if you live on the east coast (22% for PEI and Newfoundland).

I can't find any stats on pilot divorce rates. The Googles, they do nothing. I'm guessing it's slightly higher than the average rate, but I have no evidence to back that up besides my gut feeling.

My parents divorced 30 years ago, and I was lucky in that it was exceptionally amicable. They went out of their way to cooperate with raising me, and I honestly had a fantastic childhood. I won the parent lottery, and I was sort of shocked when I started to talk to my childhood friends about stuff like that and realized that not everybody's parents were kind. I have seen lots of other situations where the people involved spent tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers and fought over every detail, and that seemed pointless and a total drag for everyone, and I would hate to be involved in something like that.

I have had a few boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, and out of them, I have been dumped twice. The first was Jessica. I was 16, she was 18 and after she graduated high school, she went away on an exchange program to Ecuador for 3 months and wound up hooking up with another guy on the exchange program. She was the only one who broke my heart, but she was my first love and the first bite leaves the deepest teethmarks, so I get that most of my anguish was because she was the first girl I loved and I wasn't particularly wise, relationship-wise. Anyway, Jessica and her partner have 4 kids together now, and have been living together happily for the past 18 years, so no worries. The second time I was dumped, it was Kate, a girl I got together with when I was working my first flying job in northern Saskatchewan. We had been together for a year when I moved to Ontario for another job, and she lasted a couple of months before having a fling with some guy named Donovan. It wasn't that serious between us so I didn't really mind, except that the guy's name was Donovan. I mean, really.

So in my limited history, out of the two times I got dumped, 50% of them had aviation-related stress as a contributing factor. I knew Kate was liable to go sideways eventually, but I'm still putting aviation down as a cause because I think we would have lasted at least another few months if I hadn't moved away to get a better flying job.

I'm writing this because a pilot friend of mine just separated from his girlfriend after 5 years, and he's pretty upset. She is also a pilot, and I was wondering if that makes them more likely to split or less likely. The main pro would be: both partners would be aware of and sympathetic to the various factors that rob us of time with our loved ones. The main con would be: their separate schedules would make it difficult indeed to spend time together.

I know there are a million other things that can affect a relationship and a split might not have anything to do with the occupation of pilot, but I'm sure it doesn't help things. What do you think? Has your dedicated to your job caused your heart to break? Would you do it again?


Anonymous said...

In North America there is a cultural norm of putting work first.It is not just true for pilots but also for most jobs which demand a post secondary qualification. We have fewer and shorter holidays, longer work weeks and more overtime. At the very least, people have to work at making family/relationship the first priority and resist saboutaging that for work.It should be a marriage vow!(With your bear masks on of course) said...

Having a pilot for a girlfriend/wife has got to be the most uphill battle ever. At my airline, out of a pilot group of about 200 pilots, I would say that 5% are women. Aside from the hose-hounds, the women that seem to be faithful still get the full press from the bulk of the male pilots.

Windsor said...

Relationships and flying are a tough combo to manage. I left a girl that I really loved for a flying job in another state. Things didnt work out with her. If I had it to do aver again, I probably would have stayed. Being a pilot is great, but as I've gotten older and hopefully wiser, I have realised that theres more to life than flying.

Aviatrix said...

When I was living in the north I flew with a pilot who had a girlfriend down south. He adored her, talked about her all the time with respect and appreciation. She came up to visit and they were a great couple, good to each other and such a good fit together. They weren't engaged, but I made a mental note to send them a great wedding present.

The other day I sent the pilot an e-mail, and gave my best wishes to her, too, not even thinking that the situation could have changed. I think I would have been less surprised to learn that she'd been kidnapped by aliens, but alas, aviation struck again.