My parents were married for over 50 years. Their 50th anniversary was a big deal in the community. It was a lovely occasion with lots of friends and family gathering and giving them congratulations. At the time I was in my second marriage and I thought to myself, “Is this something to which I should be aspiring?” There is a lot of pressure in our culture to make things work…even beyond when it is obvious that they never really will. People in my parents’ generation viewed marriage in the literal “til death do us part” way. And I truly believe that if many of them considered the option of divorce a reality, they would have taken an out years before the “death” part came along.
I have always viewed marriage is more of a “til love no longer lasts” way. Maybe this is why I am on my 4th marriage. But I see this as something that is much healthier than sticking in a marriage that is dysfunctional at best and abusive at worst. I feel that too many people wait way too long to go their separate ways. By the time they do there is nothing but animosity and general hatred of the former partner. That is not pretty at all.
I have also been in the situation of “staying together for the kids”. I discovered that it would be far better for them to come FROM a broken home than it would be for them to live IN a broken home. Let’s face it, people will tell themselves all sorts of stories that will convince themselves that it is best to stay put instead of taking a leap into the vast unkown.
But the thing is (and believe me there is a THING) that when we actually take that leap we are most often making the biggest and bravest move of them all. It takes so much courage to know that you do not know where something is leading but still be open enough and willing to take that step and allow all that has been holding you back to fall away from you. So often we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, taking on physical and emotional burdens that were never ours to carry in the first place, so that we can stay comfortable, or worse yet so that someone else can stay comfortable. Heck, people will even stay in an abusive relationship because their PARENTS will be judgemental if they should leave it. Their PARENTS. Did I hear someone say, “CODEPENDENT”? Frankly if you are old enough to be married you are also old enough to let a marriage go if that is what is required for your personal health and safety, or that of your offspring.
That is not to say that I think frivolously about relationships. Quite the contrary. I am the type who is ALL IN when it comes to a committed relationship. However, I have also found over the years that although I may be all in, the other person may not and may actually be trying to keep the relationship going because it serves them in a way that was never initially presented. Some want a relationship to stay in play because it serves them financially, some because it serves them to have someone to take care of them in their poor health, some because it serves them sexually, some because it means that they can hide from plain sight in society by having the cloak of marriage to keep them safe. We really do need to allow ourselves to assess what our relationship is doing both for us and to us, as well as what it is doing for and to our partners. I have been known to leave a relationship because the existence of it is holding back my partner. I would never want to be held back, so if I know that I am holding someone else back, I will exit stage left…quickly.
Sometimes relationships end suddenly and leave us spinning. I found out that my first wife was involved with someone else, when I came home from university class to discover that my apartment had been cleaned out (as well as our joint account) when she left to be with the other person. Not cool. Very sudden. Yes, things were a bit rocky for a couple of weeks, but every relationship goes through that now and then, so thinking that it was DONE so soon after the trouble began would have felt like a knee jerk reaction. I have also had a relationship end suddenly when my third wife died overnight. One does not expect things like this to happen when one is only 50. It seemed like this was something that happens to the elderly…not to young people. (Yes, I consider 50 young, but know very well that when I was 20 someone who was 50 seemed ancient). I remember one of the funeral home directors saying to me that he was so sorry that something like that should happen to someone as young as myself and that life was sometimes just not at all fair. I had to agree.
I find that no matter how a relationship ends, it always feels better if you see it coming and if you are not blindsided by a circumstance over which you have no control. People who, for example, lose a loved one in a car accident, would not see it coming and the circumstance is nothing that they would have had any control over. This is a much different circumstance than when one knows it is time to move on and makes the moves to gracefully end a relationship. Yet graceful as one tries to be about these things, there is always one who wants to stay in the relationship and when that person realises that this is not an option there is blame that gets thrown around. This serves no one. It temporarily will make the person feel righteously indignant, but this is something that does not serve their healing process.
I feel that we need to understand that if we are in something of a good relationship we need to make sure that we foster that. And if we are not, we need to decide what is best for us and make whatever move is necessary to make what is best for us happen. Because the truth is that there are times when love is simply not enough. In those times, it is best to simply accept it and move on.