What is Marriage?


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For a few years now I’ve been writing about relationships, and marriage.  I consider myself “pro-marriage”, and a lot of my writing (in my mind at least) has been about trying to help others make their marriages into the best marriages they can be.

But one thing I’ve realized recently is, I don’t actually give a crap about marriage.

Wha?

Wait a second, what am I saying here?

As of right now I’m up to almost 150 posts over almost three years of writing; mostly about love, relationships, and how I believe long term monogamous relationships can and should be this wonderful thing; and how we can all strive to take what we have and make it better.

Isn’t marriage kind of the culmination of that ideal?  And if so, shouldn’t I be all “rah-rah” pro-marriage?

Well, yes and no.

Let me explain…

 

I do believe in marriage, very deeply.  But to me marriage isn’t about a piece of paper, or a title.  It’s not about being someone’s husband or wife, and it’s definitely not to give “legitimacy” to children that come from the union of two people.

Instead, marriage is a symbol.

And it’s a symbol of a RELATIONSHIP; a symbol that a relationship has reached a certain level of depth of caring, compassion, and commitment that a couple is now willing to make a promise to each other that they will be there to support each other and be there for each other for the rest of their lives.

 

Marriage is supposed to be about the relationship.  But for some reason, over the long term people often lose sight of that.  The relationship comes to be seen as a “given”.  After all, you’re already married – so what else is there to do?

Btw, that’s probably the worst line of thinking ever, and one that kills MANY relationships.

But even so, we often do it.  And instead of being about love and the relationship, the marriage comes to represent all the “other” stuff.  The house, the chores, the bills, the kids.  All the stuff that is part of the grind of regular day to day life starts to become associated with the marriage, even when that was NEVER what the marriage was initially supposed to be about.

 

Rather than a celebration of love, a marriage becomes associated with the mundane.  And when people start to lose sight of what brought them together in the first place, problems start to set in.

That’s when connection and communication starts to break down.  And where resentment and apathy can start to set in.  That’s where disillusionment with marriage can start to set in, and a couple will often start to drift apart.

To prevent this, they need to be able to go back to what brought them together in the first place.  They need to find the love and the connection again.  And they need to focus on the RELATIONSHIP instead of the marriage.

If they can’t?

Well, I’m going to steal my own words from a post from almost two years ago:

Let’s say you meet someone and fall in love with them, but they don’t feel the same way. Is that a relationship? No. You may love them and accept them for who they are. You may think of them all the time and have pictures of them in your house, wallet, at work whatever. But if they don’t feel the same way about you, then that’s just creepy (and probably puts you at risk of a restraining order).

If you believe you are in a relationship but the other person sees you as one of the many people they are dating, sorry, again it’s not a relationships.

It doesn’t become a relationship until they return the love, and there is an acknowledgement that the two of you share something together and you are committed to each other. So although love may be unconditional, relationships aren’t. Relationships do have expectations, and some degree of reciprocity is required.

Lets take this idea one step further….

Let’s say you are in a relationship, and the other person checks out emotionally. They stop doing the little things, they stop showing you that they care. You become two people, effectively living individual lives. If that happens, are you in a relationship? It doesn’t matter if there’s a piece of paper saying you are married, or you are living together. Even if one person still loves the other with all their heart, the relationship has effectively ended.

Relationships require reciprocity. They are about intent, and effort.

So I ask the question – if the relationship has died, what’s the point of the marriage? 

Why stay?

Either work on the marriage, and get back to a place where the relationship is at the heart of it; or get out.

 

Personally I don’t care about marriage as a piece of paper or a contract.  When people lose sight of the relationship and marriage has come to represent the routines of day to day life, I don’t see the point in continuing it.

Because to me, that’s not what it is.

When people are married, vows are usually spoken.  And if those vows are not being actively practiced, then the marriage is broken.

Commitment doesn’t just mean someone is “staying” in the marriage.  They have to be living it.  Staying in it without practicing the vows is just a waste of everyone’s time.

But when people ARE living it?

When the marriage continues to represent the love and the relationship that brought people together?  And when the marriage is a symbol of that active commitment and love?

Then I think marriage is one of the most beautiful things there is.

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51 thoughts on “What is Marriage?

  1. I think you’ve touched on something very vital with the words below…
    “Marriage is supposed to be about the relationship. But for some reason, over the long term people often lose sight of that. The relationship comes to be seen as a “given”. After all, you’re already married – so what else is there to do?”

    It makes me think of two different things- one being that I think most people (at least women) have the image of the RELATIONSHIP they do want in their minds, but they think it will just happen naturally. If this is the “right” person, they would just by nature fulfill the imagined role. In the beginning of the relationship I believe that line of thinking has some truth and validity. That person does fill the role of friend or flirt, whatever, at the beginning. But then as the relationship develops and becomes deeper- to the point of marriage, that is when there is a vastly different level of commitment and responsibility to each other. ..
    I don’t think one partner is completely responsible for the other partners happiness, or anger, or personal fulfillment. But, following the idea of “needs”, we do assume the responsibilty of looking at the things we do, and the decisions we make, and even the priorities we set from the perspective of being a unit. One persons actions can affect the other person (s).
    The other thing I was thinking is about women’s desire to get married. It is at least stereotyped as being a more common and frequent desire for women than men. I think some of that has to do with security – and more so emotional security than anything. Marriage is supposed to represent life long commitment and partnership, etc. It is supposed to represent a commitment to the relationship – to preserving and strengthen the connection so that it brings health, and a whole list of other good flowery sounding things like hope, life, joy.
    Anyway, about women and marriage, it just seems like we are in a rush for the ceremony and the paper because we think it means a commitment to the relationship (that is the image that we have in our heads), but on the whole- most often, no one knows how to make that into a reality. Sometimes it’s not even discussed. Other times it’s discussed but the reality that there will be a compromise and sacrifice of the imagined ideal isn’t understood.

    It just seems that yes, we should spend more time appreciating the real relationship and nurturing it, instead of trying to reach the end goal of marriage.

    Because of exactly what you said- if that is the goal, once it’s done there’s nothing more to work for in it- right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lindsey,

      You say:

      “I think most people (at least women) have the image of the RELATIONSHIP they do want in their minds, but they think it will just happen naturally. If this is the “right” person, they would just by nature fulfill the imagined role.”

      And I agree with you 100%. I also happen to think that thinking is perhaps the single most destructive thing to relationships. That, combined with hedonic adaptation are the two things probably MOST responsible for unhappy marriages and divorce.

      And this is where I think two things:

      – first, people get married too early. Or maybe not too early, but I think that most people get married without really understanding what they are doing or what they are getting themselves into (same for becoming a parent actually, but that’s a whole other topic). They get married with a “vision” of what marriage will look like, and that vision generally is so far off base that the reality of marriage will almost always disappoint.
      – there needs to be some form of education on relationships, and what relationships actually are and look like. My initial idea behind the name thezombieshuffle was that for the most part we have no freaking clue what we are doing in life. We just kind of stumble around bumping into things, seeing what sticks for us and what doesn’t. And there HAS to be a better way, there really does. There has to be a way for people to grow to have a healthier idea of relationship in all aspects of life. And if we could figure out what that looks like and how to implement it I think MANY people would be happier, and more marriages would be successful – able to keep thier focus on the relationship instead of the ceremony and paper.

      I suspect most people would deny that they stop trying after getting married, but in many cases they are fooling themselves.

      One of my favorite ideas is that your actions reflect your priorities. To me, a persons relationship/marriage should ALWAYS be at the top of their priorities. Jobs come and go, and eventually you retire. Kids are super important, but you raise them to become their own person, and eventually they leave. Your relationship with your partner is the main thing that is (in theory) supposed to be there FOREVER. We talk of growing old together.

      Well how the hell is that supposed to happen if it doesn’t remain a priority?

      People “say” the relationship matters, but usually they let all the other things in life become more important.

      Words don’t matter. Actions reflect priority. So if someone “says” the relationship is important, but they can’t be bothered making time to nurture and grow it? Well, in that case I think they are showing their TRUE priorities – and the relationship is not among them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You said: “They get married with a “vision” of what marriage will look like, and that vision generally is so far off base that the reality of marriage will almost always disappoint.”
    A lot of times that vision comes from popular culture- movies, TV shows ect. ..So does the idea of finding the “right” person,… and the set up for hedonic adaption..
    namely that love and romance are “FOR ME”- the person is “FOR ME”, the relationship is “FOR ME”, etc, etc, etc. We think its supposed to make us feel good.
    While I don’t think relationships and other people should make us feel bad, we seem to have become the monkeys hitting the button for constant reward.

    I think your name “ZombieShuffle” is accurate for a large portion of the population, especially with kids and young adults.
    You are really lucky if you have a family that lives within a grounded set of morals, or has values that are more meaningful than that of survival, or pleasure of self.
    So what directs us in our zombie shuffle is what we need in the moment (survival) or what feels good without seeing (or knowing) the value that comes from being a part of something greater- being more than just your self.

    …I don’t know if you ended up reading that PDF I sent the last time, but one part that is so incredible is that our brain development as a species depended on our relationships. Those thinking and empathetic parts came in as we evolved. ..

    What happens when we start to isolate ? It doesn’t have to be in marriage/family units , though those may be ideal, but what happens when people isolate because of shame, or out of pursuit of what our society says is the highlife (things like money, status, etc.) and supplement the need for human connection with pornography, or one night stands, or drugs and alcohol, or food etc.
    We again change our brains- and I don’t know if it would be for the better. (My thought is it definitely would NOT be. )

    I’m veering here, but my point is that marriage, family and community are so incredibly important to healthy human development, and in overall prosperity and well being- I agree that talking about and teaching these things are really important.

    I want to create a mental/emotional health class in schools. Or make courses in human development and psychology a part of the core curriculum. I think you could make content that is age appropriate even at the elementary school level.
    When this stuff isn’t so specialized , and just known as common knowledge I think our world would change.

    Even if that never happens in schools- talking about this stuff, having a wide distribution of information , and really- Books, movies, TV shows that model and reflect on this stuff are ways to make cultural change.

    …I agree with your statement that actions reflect priority. You can even fool yourself with words, its the things that you do that give your heart and mind away.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just out of curiosity, I did a google search. Besides one of those “It’s unconstitutional for the government to re-define marriage” websites (which I think is a logically flawed statement to begin with because if the government defined it in the first place, then they should be able to redefine it, and if they weren’t the ones to define it why should the entire population live under one groups definition of it…but that’s just my take.) , I found this one: http://www.marriageadvocates.com/.
    It seems like a pretty good resource. There needs to be more of that stuff. Alot more.

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  4. Here’s the thing, all relationships go through ups and downs. Every relationship can, and I believe most do if you stay in them long enough, look dead in the water at one point or another. Marriage is like the glue that holds it together during those times.

    I think you’ve talked before about commitment versus passion in a relationship and how sometimes it’s the passion keeping you there and sometimes it’s the commitment. Even if one or both persons is just staying because they committed and not for the relationship, that can change. If there’s no commitment, though, the motivation to stick it out through that tough time decreases drastically. I think my parents are an example of this. They’ve been married 45 years and there have been some very difficult times in their relationship. But they are two of the most committed, stubborn people you could ever meet. So, they’re still married and have found ways to improve their relationship and keep it viable. On top of that, they provided an example of what to do AND, more importantly, what not to do. My siblings who are married took that decision very seriously even at a younger age. Most of them do things to actively make their marriages better…because of the commitment of marriage.

    There is value in marriage. And, yes, the relationship should be the focus of the marriage, but that commitment is important and necessary too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with everything you just said 100%, so maybe my intent here was misunderstood.

      If you look through almost 3 years of back history on posts here, I think one of my primary messages is that people give up on relationships far too easily. And virtually any relationship CAN be better.

      A while back I had a post on the three components of love – passion, intimacy and commitment.

      Passion comes and goes. You need to nurture it in order to keep it part of the relationship, but there are times that it won’t be there for any number of reasons.

      Intimacy is being open and vulnerable with one another, and even that has times that it will fade into the background. Though it really shouldn’t, as I think honesty and openness with one another is on of the key aspects that keeps people together.

      The last is commitment. And as you said, commitment is really important as it allows you to stick together when times are tough, and when you may not actually *want* to stick together.

      But here’s where I have a concern:

      I’ve both seen and heard of a number of cases where a couple no longer likes each other or gets along. And when it comes to the “relationship”, one or both members of the marriage really couldn’t care less. They are together largely because it’s “what they know”, or because of the kids, or because they are scared to be alone.

      It’s THESE scenarios I’m talking about.

      If someone doesn’t WANT to be with the other person anymore, then I ask – why are they still there?

      Commitment is great – IF you are using it to stay together for the purposes of making your marriage the best it can be. But staying together just to stay together, when one or both people are completely checked out from the relationship and are effectively living individual lives is wrong (to me anyhow). And not just wrong, but cruel.

      Those are the scenarios where the marriage is really just a piece of paper, because the relationship is effectively dead. And these are the cases where affairs are likely to happen with one or both people.

      I’m 100% against affairs, and think there is NEVER an excuse for them. I don’t care how bad things are, or what has happened in a relationship. If it’s bad enough that someone is going down the road of an affair, then I think they owe it to the other partner to get out first.

      Some people have affairs and still stay in the marriage – even though it’s clear they don’t want it. When that happens, it’s not commitment, it’s cowardice. They want to “have their cake and eat it too”. Have the safety and security of family and home, while going elsewhere for the relationship.

      So I guess what I’m saying is the marriage starts as a symbol and a celebration of the relationship. And yes, over the long term relationships go through all sorts of things, and the commitment side of love is really important.

      But if a couple gets to a point where the relationship has ceased to be at the heart of the marriage, and they aren’t working to find that again, then at that point the marriage is nothing more than a piece of paper and empty words.

      Hopefully that makes a bit more sense?

      Liked by 1 person

    • “Stubborn”

      That made me laugh and maybe roll my eyes a little at my wife and myself. This has been an exceptionally difficult year and there have been many and long periods when I thought new would, and probably should, get divorced. There was commitment and there were memories but I have had that word go through my mind quite often! I am thankful that we have been so stubborn. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stubborness (or tenacity) when it is used “for” long term relationships/marriage is a good thing.

        And I absolutely did not intend this post to be a “give up on marriage/pro-divorce” post. As I say at the top, I have almost three years of writing here that is all about trying to hold onto marriages and build them into the best they can be.

        And that’s where apathy is a killer.

        We have to WANT something. And we have to be willing to fight for it, and work at it.

        IF we can do that, I think EVERY relationship can be better tomorrow than it is today.

        But one person alone can’t do it. They can do it for a while, but eventually their partner has to be willing to join in. If not, life becomes VERY lonely.

        And it’s a fine line between the stubbornness of refusing to give up on something you believe in, and denial in the face of something that will never again be.

        That’s a REALLY tough line, and it’s up to each person to determine for themselves where that line is.

        I’m a big fan of the band Rise Against, and they have a line in a song that goes:

        “Go on alone, ’cause I won’t follow
        This isn’t giving up, no this is letting go
        I made most of all this sorrow
        I tried to brave this discontent, but now I’m through
        I’m letting go of you.”

        I think when someone finds that line for themselves, letting go doesn’t really hurt. Because they know they’ve done all they can – and it just wasn’t enough.

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      • First, spellchecker is so weird…when did “we” become “new” (I guess I can envision that, but still…) 😉

        *Sigh* Life is so…random. Not logical. For most of my life I would have self-identified as a Vulcan. Now I’m pretty sure I’m a Klingon…or trying.

        Drew, I still don’t know where “we” are. One thing I know I have not done well in the 35 years we’ve been married is really grasped my wife as Other, in the good sense. I am working on learning that and making progress but it’s such a hard concept…

        More to your point(s) here, I was shocked earlier this year when my wife and I were discussing what we wanted, and what we needed, from our marriage. I had come to recognizing that without some real engagement, I really wasn’t prepared to stay (and I realized that a lot of the responsibility for where we were then was mine).

        My wife, on the other hand, said there was basically no set of circumstances in which she’d ever pull the plug on our marriage. Not really believing or understanding what she meant, I asked: what if I were having an ongoing affair, having sex with another person or other people? Her response was that if that were the case she would still not end the marriage, though she certainly wouldn’t have sex with me. Aside from the fact that at that point (not having touched each other in a decade) that was a pretty humorous comment, I didn’t and still don’t really understand her point of view – but to my point about understanding our spouses as Other, I no longer feel like I have to. It’s enough to know that she has a different perspective, and that it’s ok for her to have a perspective that’s different from mine…I don’t need to persuade her or get her to validate my perspective, we can coexist in Different on things, even (especially?) important things.

        I completely understand your point about unilaterality in marriage…there may be times when it has to be that way (serious illness or disability), but it’s not something I think can work in normal times. But having said that, everyone’s circumstances are unique, and everyone is entitled to evaluate them and respond according to their own desires, needs and best lights.

        One thing I’ve realized more recently is that even though our boys are well-launched as adults (28 and 26 years old), it would still be a blow to the family, to them and to me and my relationships with them if my wife and I divorced.

        I’ve also realized that there’d be a loss in terms of…I don’t know quite what the nouns are here…if you optimistically assume that, after a divorce, we each found/made a new relationship with other people, there are still 36 years or so that sort of get lost or fade to shades of gray…and no new relationship is ever going to encapsulate the knowledge we have of each other. The silly things we did when we were young…the experiences we had together, and then the experiences we had with the boys… There is just no way to put these things down on a T-account, to set them up in Excel and hit ‘calculate.’

        Maybe it’s better that way? There’s a richness in risk, in not knowing…

        But on the other hand, at some point there’s just no life at all in the marriage. I understand viscerally the drive to stay and perform CPR and try to engage and reach out and make sure. But at some point, sometimes, the patient has just reached room temperature. When one of you has, for years, consciously refused to rise and reach out and open up, there is a time to simply acknowledge the truth and move on, with sadness but acceptance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Life does funny things to people, and we are all able to reach out to each other differently at different times.

        And the past times spent together (I think of it as “shared history”) is a huge component in keeping relationships viable.

        In new relationships the “new” is exciting, but eventually you get to the point that you know each other really well. So that shared history becomes part of the glue that holds people together.

        Well, that plus stubbornness and commitment 🙂

        If someone clearly doesn’t want to be there though, or they will only ever be there on their own terms (even when those terms clearly don’t work for the other person), they you’ve got a serious issue.

        And you can hold on as long as you want. And actually some stay that way forever.

        To me though, marriage is more than just being roommates who co-parent.

        If there need to be some stretches like that for whatever reason, it sucks, but alright. When that becomes your ONLY existence though (and it’s not something you are alright with – as some are)? Then SOMETHING needs to give.

        Ideally people take that realization as an opportunity to re-evaluate and get things back on track in a way that works for both.

        But if one person is constantly saying “help me here, this isn’t working and I need you to engage me” and they are continually ignored, then as you said – move on, with sadness but acceptance.

        Like

  5. HI Drew,

    I can connect to your comments “Some people have affairs and still stay in the marriage – even though it’s clear they don’t want it. When that happens, it’s not commitment, it’s cowardice. They want to “have their cake and eat it too”. ” Also “staying together just to stay together, when one or both people are completely checked out from the relationship and are effectively living individual lives is wrong (to me anyhow). And not just wrong, but cruel.”

    I have had to come to the admittance that my wife, no matter how much I have tried to show and persuade her to try and work things out, she is effectively checked out. The part that has hurt is her lack of “action” on this. What people say and actually do can sometimes be completely different things.

    For example; my wife said she was wanting to be done, yet refused to act on this. This lack of action made me believe that there was some hope that she was confused and just needed time. So we still lived together, raised children together, but her behavior towards me never improved. Still distant and cold, there was a sense of security for her since I was not wanting a divorce.

    So now when I finally convinced her to go to counseling, it provided no guidance for us. To be honest, I think it muddied the water, and made those “walls” look that much taller. I think the process had the right intent, but if the individual is not really prepared to hear and comprehend the words, they can regress and backtrack. And when the counselor is saying “this is not going to work” I have no rebuttal.

    The tragedy is that there might be a day when she looks back at this and maybe regrets the “what ifs”. And I will have to move on, I now know this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi William,

      Geez man, I wish I had something positive to say here – but I really don’t.

      I’m no counselor, but I don’t really see this turning around the way you want. From what you are describing, I’m going to make a few guesses:

      – she wants out, but is also scared to leave. Maybe because she wants to keep the family together, maybe because of the safety and security of home or maybe because of the stigma of divorce.
      – she may still “love” you, but more as a person and a father to your children.
      – you mentioned previously she either had or is having an affair. Probably because she feels something is “missing” and she feels she needs to look elsewhere to find whatever that is. As part of this process she became distant and cold towards you (very common with affairs).
      – being someone who believes in marriage, and in your life with her, you’ve tried to “keep things together”. Unfortunately, while trying to be a good person and a good husband, you have likely been inadvertently showing her that her behaviour and the way she is treating you is alright. So it has become your new norm.
      – she’s now in a position where she can have the safety and security of family, without giving you anything relationship wise. It’s a pretty unequal exchange.
      – I’ll guess when you get to the point that you want to make changes, she will put in the bare minimum amount of effort. Just enough to make you think that perhaps she actually does want the marriage with you, but in reality all she is doing is maintaining the status quo. A status quo that works for her, but is killing you.

      In my opinion, you are currently being used. Completely. And that’s wrong.

      This post was actually written with your exact situation in mind. And sadly, it’s not that uncommon. Inhumane, yes. But uncommon, no.

      You need to proceed in whatever way you feel is best for you. And truly, there is no right or wrong. If you stay, then your commitment to your marriage and family is admirable. And “perhaps” things will turn around one day. If you end things, then I don’t think anyone would begrudge you that. Ultimately though, any changes from the status quo will have to come from you. Because it sounds like the situation you are in is working perfectly fine for her – so why should she change it?

      A few things to ask yourself:

      – What do you want out of life? And out of love?
      – What does love mean to you?
      – What does a healthy relationship mean to you?
      – Accepting that no relationship will ever be perfect, what is enough?
      – if your situation with her never changes, are you able to accept that?

      Remember – YOU matter too. I am completely against people just doing whatever they want in the pursuit of their own happiness. And I also don’t think that anyone should ever expect to be happy all the time. At the same time though, you also need a chance to live.

      I liken your situation to that of a lobster being boiled. These changes likely happened over time, and when you are deep in it, it becomes hard to see clearly. Because that situation is now your norm. It’s the life you’ve been living for a long time.

      For me, I have come to the conclusion that I would much rather be alone then be with someone doesn’t want to be with me. Being alone doesn’t scare me at all. But spending my life with someone who doesn’t actually love me anymore, or is unwilling/uncapable to show it terrifies me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the words of encouragement Drew.

        I think you hit on a lot of things that make sense. I do think that for her staying around does offer some form of security, in whatever form that is. But I also think that she wants me to just give in and agree to her wishes. This is where for me I am in a no win situation. Either I stick to my guns and we continue in this loveless relationship, which may push her to another affair possibly, or I respect her wishes and let her go. Either option is not favorable.

        But this I am starting to realize, mostly from words you have written and from the same sentiments from friends. “You can’t make someone love you, and if they don’t want to work things out, why would you stay?” I have asked myself this question a hundred times, and obviously over time, the answer becomes more clear.

        I am not ending this…simply conceding and accepting. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to face and a decision I am forced to make.

        Let me be perfectly clear, I am no saint. I have wronged her in the past and have made plenty of mistakes. Was not attentive enough, was selfish in my wants, and just believed that “marriage works”. It wasn’t until she told me she wanted out that this hit me like a ton of bricks, but I believed that we’re still here…it’s not too late.

        I made life changes, reorganized my priorities, put her first and foremost and tried to show her that with time I can prove that I am the husband she deserves. But in her eyes she felt that she tried alone for too long. In the past she would complain about my hobbies as they were “more important” and wanted more attention. I did try to improve, but would typically fall right back into my regular pattern. It wasn’t that I didn’t love her or care, but in my reality I thought that everything was ok. That in itself is a tragedy, and I have a lot of regrets from that.

        The irony of this was that she was trying to work at it alone, then I was trying to work at it alone. It was not until now that both of our eyes are open to the true situation, the moment when clarity is finally shown, and she wants nothing to do with it.

        But from the information I was able to gather on her affair, I was able to get a general timeline of when this started, which ironically was about the same time she said she wanted out. So I know that the affair played a part in her decision. And while I was doing everything in my power to win her back, these actions I was taking was only making her mad and pushing her closer to him. In her eyes she saw this as “now he wants to change!” And I had no idea that I was actually competing against another guy that whole time.

        So without this knowledge I would keep pushing along, trying to save something that was to her unsavable. And I would keep getting more resentment and distance, but alas, I still tried. It was basically “death by a thousand cuts”.

        So to answer some of your questions on love and relationships: What I want out of life is simple…happiness. Seems almost too easy of an answer. But the reality that I am in is that it is not there from the one thing I need it from. Love to me means unconditional, that we accept our faults, our dirty laundry, and our mistakes. We are all human, and people are blind to think that everyone else out there is living a perfect life, because life is not perfect. It can be downright horrible at times.

        But we learn and never make the same mistake again. Because it CAN be something much stronger on the other side if you allow it. But that takes two, I know that now. I was naive enough to think I could “will” this to happen. Like a couple dancing, I take the lead until the other falls into the same tempo, and it is beautiful.

        And to be honest, I kept fighting because there is a part of me that does not want to be alone. I am scared of the unknown. There was a part of me that was willing to accept the new “norm” or status quo just to not have to go into the unknown. I am also not mentally prepared for the possibility that she either is still with him, or will go running back to him. And the thought of my children around this person. These are real fears of mine.

        The feeling of complete helplessness is palpable. I know I will eventually get through this and there will be more pain to come. It is literally like a death, and in a way it is, that I have to accept and then grieve. Then the challenge for me is to allow myself to be happy again, but for that I will need to trust, which as of now has been broken down to pieces.

        Sorry for the rambling, but you do “get” where I am coming from. This has been very therapeutic for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Like a couple dancing, I take the lead until the other falls into the same tempo, and it is beautiful.”

        William, that’s a beautiful image – and one I also believe. And it’s one I also tried, desperately.

        I believed so strongly in me, and in the family and life we had built. I believed as long as I stayed strong, and didn’t give up, I would one day be “the light in the dark” that would bring her back.

        And if it would have worked, it would have made all the pain and hurt of multiple years worth it. I told myself when we were older, and had our grandchildren with us, I would look back on it as just a bump in the road.

        For me, as time went on that bump got bigger, and bigger. And I got older, with absolutely nothing to show for it.

        Nothing improved. Maybe for a few days at a time, and then it went back to the apathy and indifference.

        She had checked out, and wasn’t coming back. She seemed comfortable (though not happy) in this new life where we were roommates who co-parented, and that’s it.

        And it was killing me.

        I hated it.

        So I ultimately made the decision I never wanted to make. But at the same time, it was one I had known in my heart for a long time I was going to have to make.

        And it wasn’t easy.

        But by holding on as long as I did, I can truly tell myself (and my kids one day) that I did EVERYTHING I could. It just wasn’t enough.

        As noted in a comment to Jack above – I never gave up. But eventually I realized I needed to let go.

        You’ll find your way, whatever it is. And when you know, you’ll know.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Marriage sucks. After being married twice i am against all forms of marriage with passion. If i could turn back time, i would live together with my boyfriends, but never marry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m curious, what is it about marriage that you see as the problem?

      My take on this is, it’s actually living together that makes things difficult – not the marriage (they just kind of go hand in hand).

      I’ve never experienced this so I can’t really say, but I would think living together presents all the problems that people usually blame on marriage:

      – getting too caught up in day to day life and losing sight of the relationship
      – taking each other for granted
      – extra things to cause conflict/fights (such as finances, chores, annoying habits)

      I can’t really see what extra problems marriage brings. So I’m very curious as to what your take on this is.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Drew, the more you share your story, the more I see myself exactly. And I want to thank you for sharing.

    Similar to you, I was trying to be that “light”, where one day she would thank me for not giving up when she had. You want to believe that our purpose of holding on is a noble one. One where we are thinking of the whole picture, love, happiness, family, home…everything. They always say the best things we want in life, you have to fight for. I keep thinking that my motivation and purpose is the right choice.

    But as you pointed out, eventually we have to make the hard decision that we know is the only resolution to this sad ending. What I fear, and possibly you felt at one time, is real resentment towards that person for giving up that may come after we do split. And I am cognizant that I have to try and manage that and deal with those feelings so that her and I can be amicable to some extent.

    But there will be a day when my kids get a better understanding of what happened and know that I did try everything I could to salvage this marriage. But I hope that is a day far away.

    Right now I need to try and focus on me now. How to get better, grieve, heal, and move forward.
    And eventually try and find happiness with another person. But that may take some time. And that will also involve me allowing myself to trust again, that will be the biggest hurdle.

    Hope you have a very Happy Holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • William, no matter how you approach your situation, try not to let it harden your heart.

      When people are hurt, they tend to put up walls to prevent themselves from being hurt in that way again. But I think building those walls only does more damage in the long run – as you close yourself off from the type of love you probably really want.

      For me, authenticity and vulnerability are the only ways to live. I understand struggling to trust again, and it can be hard. Trust is at the foundation of everything though, so if you don’t allow yourself to trust again then anything you build in the future will be built on a shaky foundation.

      Whatever you do, all the best to you and your family during the holidays and into the new year.

      Let 2017 be a year of growth, and positivity!

      Like

  8. This is my first time to post a comment on your blog. I hope you don’t mind a little venting.

    “Some people have affairs and still stay in the marriage – even though it’s clear they don’t want it. When that happens, it’s not commitment, it’s cowardice. They want to “have their cake and eat it too”. Have the safety and security of family and home, while going elsewhere for the relationship.”

    This right here is what happened to me. Three times in 21 years he said he wanted a divorce and all three times was because he was having an affair. These are the only women that I know about is the sad part. I think he wanted the stability & security that I provided, but he wanted to run around and act like a young, single stallion humping everything he could.

    I fell in love with him all those years ago and meant every word of the vows I spoke to him. Each time he told me he wanted a divorce, I tried to reason it…the first time he was young & scared because he was about to be a new dad…the second time he was going through a mid-life crisis…by the third time, I had run out of excuses for him. I simply couldn’t go through this life like this anymore. Our divorce was final two weeks ago. I hear he’s already shacking up with some chick that he works with & had actually been seeing while I thought we were trying to reconcile & seek counseling over the summer.

    I struggled with filing for the divorce, even though he had done some really shitty things, because I wanted our family together, I wanted to forgive him and as a Christian I know that I am forgiven- I should extend the same to him. But during my counseling, I realized that he was taking advantage of my forgiving nature. He wasn’t sorry for his actions. He could still be the playboy that he was & still have the wifey at home, taking care of the home & bills & kids and holding down a job. He “wanted his cake & eat it too”.

    I’m scared for our 19 year old son, who wanted his dad’s attention all this last year before he graduated but didn’t get it because dad was out getting drunk & screwing this other woman. Now, though, dad’s his best friend, buying him alcohol or actually partying with him. He’s the cool parent now & I’m the fun hater/responsible parent. Our son encouraged me to file for the divorce last year, but is now angry with me because I did file. He claims his dad was trying. My ex is telling him lies about me and distorting the truth and it hurts. I helped him get scholarships for college & he has deadlines coming up. If he misses the deadlines, he forfeits the money. That’s the only time I hear from him anymore is when he needs money. I’m at the point that I can’t allow him to keep doing me this way because he is no better than his dad in that aspect.

    I’m scared for our 16 year old daughter. She once adored the ground her dad walked on. He broke her heart, too. She’s angry because of what she’s seen me go through and I know she will/does have trust issues because of all of this. She tells me all the time that she hopes I find a “good man” who will love and respect me like I deserve.

    I’m scared. I’m scared of being alone, but I’m scared of falling prey to another man like him. I’m angry with myself for believing all of his lies. How in the hell did I wind up with this man?? I find myself wondering if there are any “good men” out there, someone who would devote their time & energy in a relationship with me, make me feel like a priority. I feel like I did all of those things in my marriage but still got screwed. Then I read some of the things you & other bloggers post & I realize that maybe there are some good guys out there, who just like me, have been hurt and are trying to move forward.

    All I can say, is this just really sucks.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Starting Over,
      Hi there- this is Linds. I think we have exchanged a few times over on MBTTTR. :).
      I am about to walk out the door, but I read this and I just want to tell you – I think I know some of those emotions and fears…
      My story is a little different than yours..but the same desire- for a man to live up to his end of the bargain, for someone to love me as much as I am willing to love them …and then seeing the reality of what is really out there, what really happens in so many relationships it can be devastating, and heartbreaking ..and whats even worse is it can make us settle for what someone else is willing to offer.
      I struggle with this. I’m always the one willing to take the crumbs, I’m willing to buy the excuses and give grace and forgiveness – at the expense of my self esteem, my desires- at the expense of me living the life that will bring me joy and fulfillment.
      There are still good guys out there, and like you I am really grateful for Drew and Matt’s voice – I need male voices that are legitimate and true in trying to find and make the best in this world. (Mark Groves and Mark Manson are two other really incredibly male voices in relationships and just being the person you were meant to be.)
      But, the thing I am learning is that even the good guys will disappoint- they wont fulfill.
      What I am learning is how to love myself the way I want to be loved.
      I am learning to respect myself first, know that my life is mine for the making, and I am worth giving my time and attention to the things that really bring fullness to my life.
      Sometimes that’s people, and relationships- but even those have to be authentically, genuinely good for my soul.
      It is so hard to say no to what we have always been given. But, I am learning to say no- not in the hopes that someone else will give me what I deserve, but that I will give me what I deserve.
      I wanted to share this with you because I very much identify with your story, and this whole self respect thing is very much in the forefront of my thoughts.
      I read this, this morning :” Love is a quality of relationship more than a statement about the worthiness or deservedness of the object loved.” – Richard Rohr
      I tend to think if I work harder, or I am more, or gave more that I would receive someone’s love.
      I tend to always think I am not a worthy object for other peoples love- or that my love will make up for the lack of love towards me.
      Love is how we are in relationships. Its not exclusive to male-female romantic relationships, or even familial relationships. Love is a quality – of respect, of affection, of concern and interest.
      I am making a commitment to love myself, and surround myself with others who love as a way of being. When we know what that is, what that looks like- we wont settle for the crumbs. We wont need to.
      Thoughts and prayers for you today.
      I believe in love, and I believe you are worthy of it.
      Linds

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you, Linds. I really appreciate your encouragement.
        Maybe that’s what my problem is…maybe I feel unlovable and unworthy because, in light of everything, he obviously didn’t love me or think me worthy enough to fight for. Right now, I am struggling with the self-respect thing, because apparently I’m lacking self-respect or I wouldn’t have allowed all of this to go on for as long as it did.
        I, too, am so grateful to have stumbled across MBTTTR. Guys like Matt & Drew seem to be rare these days. I love reading their posts. I find them very encouraging, yet sometimes I read them & cry because my heart breaks for the losses they’ve suffered, too. Shoot, my heart breaks for all of us that have experienced this.
        Right now, aside from my daughter, I feel alone and abandoned. I do have my work friends that have supported me 100% through all of this and for that I am grateful, and of course my mom & dad & my brother’s family. But that’s basically it. The friends I had with my ex…nothing. My sister-in-laws (both of them married to my ex’s brothers)…nothing & we used to all be so close. It’s ironic, I am more comforted by the outpouring of encouragement & support from people like yourself & Matt & Drew…total strangers, than I am from people that have been in my life for a long period of time. Maybe they don’t know what to say, so rather than risk saying something that might hurt me more, they choose silence. But a simple phone call or text asking how me & my daughter are doing would be nice. I guess because that’s what I would do for someone in my situation I expect the same from others, but I’ve heard it said that expectation is the root of all heartache, so there ya go.
        Thoughts and prayers for you today as well and I sincerely mean that. You have been so kind to me and It means more than you’ll ever know

        Liked by 1 person

      • Starting Over, Linds:

        So much good will and hope at ya…could say more; won’t (at least not yet)…

        But I did want to say, about this: “But, the thing I am learning is that even the good guys will disappoint- they wont fulfill.”

        Yeah, hey, it’s true. I don’t think I’m much of a good guy but I’m trying very hard. But I am always going to disappoint and hurt. Not because I want to. Not because I don’t care. But because even knowing and trying to be aware and trying to give respect and loyalty and priority, it’s just going to happen. It’s the human condition.

        And it’s not just me. All the men you meet are going to disappoint and fail to fulfill…

        …and all the women I meet are going to do the same.

        At our best, we’re just in this together. I suppose that the dividing line is between those who are in this with you (by which I mean trying), and those who just don’t give a fig (not aware, not trying).

        I used to like the Yoda line that was, more or less, “do or do not; there is no try.” Now I’m not so sure. There is certainly “do not” (not doing). But if “do” means achieve , get it right, be perfect, I do not rate Yoda as a prophet. I cannot reliably get it right, but I can keep trying.

        Or maybe this is like a quote from John Henry (Cardinal) Newman, which goes more or less like this (going by memory): “In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” Not sure whether he meant that he thought we were going to get perfect in this lifetime – I sort of doubt it. If he did, you can add him to the list of people I’m going to disappoint! (:-|

        With all best wishes and hopes for you both, and for all of us… – J.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Yes, people will hurt and disappoint you. And that’s just human nature. And actually, in some ways it’s a good thing.

        A few months back I wrote a post called “I promise to hurt you” about this very thing.

        To allow people in and to have true intimacy, you need to allow yourself to be vulnerable.

        And guess what? When you do that, you WILL get hurt. Even, and perhaps especially by, the people you care about the most.

        The key to me is communicating it (vs holding it in and letting it grow and fester into resentment), and being able to let it go. Being able to accept it as part of being vulnerable with another person.

        For some reason, there is this broken notion that in a relationship we will never hurt the other person, and we will always be on our best behavior. That notion is one of the unrealistic expectation I think contributes to unhappy relationships.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was thinking about this earlier today in a different context…I read or heard something not long ago that really made sense to me. The general topic was “the elusive perfect soul-mate/what to look for in a potential spouse/partner” and the suggestion was that the most important trait to look for in someone was the willingness to commit themselves to continuing to work on themselves, to grow/grow up. That made tons of sense to me. We all change, but if we’re committed to doing our own work and growing ourselves up on an ongoing basis, two people really should be fine under pretty much any circumstances, I think.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Jack, I agree with the notion that a commitment to do our own work and grow up ourselves is really important, and a strength to a relationship.

        That “can” potentially cause issues though if there isn’t a similar focus on “we”, and growing as a couple.

        In some of the earlier comments from people I think my attempted message of this post was lost.

        I DO believe in marriage. And I also believe that commitment *to each other* is SO important for allowing a marriage to flourish, and get through the hard times. Because really, there will always be times that you are struggling to get along and walking away starts to look like a viable choice.

        So that commitment to each other is huge.

        This is where I see relationships as a balancing act between “me” and “we”.

        You as an individual are always important, and you need to nurture your own growth and development. But it can’t be done at the expense of the relationship.

        Sometimes when relationships fail because people have grown apart, I think it’s really because there was a bit too much independence, and people became so focused on the me that they lost sight of the we.

        Maintaining both is hard.

        Like

      • Oh, yes, maintaining both at once is super tricky. I especially like this: “This is where I see relationships as a balancing act between “me” and “we.”

        I’m sure it’s probably always a little out of whack or at risk of being that way, which is where commitment to the other person comes in. But as you say that has to be reciprocal.

        So simple!

        So hard!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that it sucks. And there are so many layers to it as well.

      Here’s one of the things that pisses me off about affairs – they are not only cowardly, but they are also extremely selfish. And the selfishness is that the person who cheats is often doing what “they” want – with zero regard for those around them.

      Cheaters will often rationalize it by saying things like, “I wasn’t happy, and I just wanted to be happy”, or “I just wanted to feel alive again”.

      Sure, I get that kind of. But first off, if someone is unhappy/unable to feel alive, there are probably underlying issues there, and an affair is nothing but a band-aid approach for much deeper issues (that probably need to be addressed). Second, even if someone refuses to face their own internal issues, there are healthy ways and unhealthy ways to try and “feel” again. And an affair is definitely NOT a healthy approach. And lastly – holy crap – affairs damage SO many lives. This isn’t just the life and feelings of the person who cheats that it being affected. There is the betrayed partner, the whole fabric of the relationship which, IF they try to hold onto is now irrevocably altered. There there are the impacts on any kids, as well as any extended family who may or may not know about what has happened, but will clearly know that “something” has happened and something has gone wrong. And that’s just on one side. Chances are the affair partner has a family as well, and there are all the impacts that happen on that end.

      It’s just so messed up, and I really don’t understand how people can be so selfish and be willing to do something like that to one another – especially to someone they profess to love.

      As for all the things you are feeling right now – struggling with filing for divorce, pain and confusion in dealing with the kids, fear of being alone, anger with yourself, and likely fear of beign hurt again in the future…

      …I think all of that is normal, and healthy. No matter what you’ve been through, ending a marriage and seeing the impacts on a family *shouldn’t* be easy. But from your description, it sounds like it WAS the right thing to do (though really, all that matters is if it was the right thing to do for YOU).

      When it comes to being alone, I think I would rather be alone than be with someone who clearly will not treat you with kindness and respect. Sometimes it can actually be much MORE lonely to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you than it is to be on your own.

      And as for finding someone else in the future, remember, both men AND women go through these things. So there’s a very good chance there is someone else out there who has been through something similar, and still has a good heart, believes in love, and is willing to put their partner first.

      The new year is almost here, so let it be symbolic of a new start for you. Here’s to a great 2017!

      Liked by 3 people

      • “Cheaters will often rationalize it by saying things like, “I wasn’t happy, and I just wanted to be happy”, or “I just wanted to feel alive again”. The excuse I received was that “I told you that I wasn’t happy and wanted out.”

        Why do they rationalize that just because they told us that they wanted out that in some way exonerates them? I do know that my wife is “sorry” for the affair. I still believe it is that she was caught instead of coming forward. She was hoping that I would have eventually given her a divorce/dissolution and I would have never known about the affair. She would have moved into her new life, and spared herself any embarrassment and shame for having a year and a half affair on her husband, and lived happily ever after.

        This whole experience has been so surreal for me. This was my “wife”, who I believed every time I asked her if something was going on or if there was something she wanted to tell me. So when she said “no”, I would believe and think that there was something else going on internally that I wanted to help her with. So I would continue to work at the marriage, even though she was “checked out”. Her lack of actual actions of ending the marriage made me believe that there was some level of hope.

        And Drew, to your point, these things have a “ripple effect” that we do not look at. Obviously this has an impact on the kids when a relationship is damaged by something like this. For me, I have a very close relationship with my father-in-law, who now I will lose in this fall out. He is aware of what happened and was really pulling for us, encouraging me to keep working at it. Ironically, he was one of the people I confided in when I was trying to save the marriage before I found out about the affair. I now I will lose that relationship because I know that he has to be there for her.

        I guess the main point I would ever tell anyone is that if they are considering or having thoughts about an affair….you have already gone too far. So before you you take the next step, take time to think about the real effects, not just on the spouse/partner, but all those you care about that you know could possibly hurt.

        It does not mean that you cannot move on and meet that “someone else”, just do it in the proper order, where there is as little collateral damage as possible. But, obviously when people are in this frame of mind, a sense of entitlement and selfishness is already set in. The very thought of waiting and/or doing it the moral approach contradicts their feelings altogether. Feelings are so grossly underestimated, it is truly amazing how we can justify things as long as it fits within the context of our reality.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “It does not mean that you cannot move on and meet that “someone else”, just do it in the proper order, where there is as little collateral damage as possible. But, obviously when people are in this frame of mind, a sense of entitlement and selfishness is already set in. The very thought of waiting and/or doing it the moral approach contradicts their feelings altogether. Feelings are so grossly underestimated, it is truly amazing how we can justify things as long as it fits within the context of our reality.”

        Agreed, 100%. It’s amazing the sorts of things people can rationalize to themselves, telling themselves that “they deserve” this for whatever reason. No matter what, to me it’s disgusting behaviour. As you said – there’s nothing wrong with accepting that a relationship isn’t working. And there’s nothing wrong with moving on and meeting someone else.

        But there is a LOT that’s wrong with doing it in the wrong order. And/or with using people for the safety and security of family and home while going elsewhere for the relationship.

        And personally, I don’t give a crap what the percentages are. Maybe it’s 40% of marriages, maybe 50%. Hell, it could be 99% and it wouldn’t matter to me. It’s still not acceptable to treat other people that way.

        Liked by 3 people

      • You are so right…cheating is is cowardly and selfish. I, personally, couldn’t bring myself to stoop that low.

        Deep down, I know that divorcing this man was the absolute right thing for me to do. I have it reconciled in my head…my heart is a different story.

        I agree with you about being better off alone than being with someone who does love or respect you. It is extremely lonely lying next to someone at night, their back to you facing the wall, and you know deep down that they are getting their needs met elsewhere. I’ve lived it.

        One of these days, I do hope to find that someone you speak of. I believe he’s out there somewhere.

        Thank you for your words of support and encouragement. Like I told Linds, I am getting more support from total strangers than people who I thought cared about me.

        Here’s hoping that 2017 is the year for new beginnings…

        Liked by 2 people

      • For me, I will NEVER again put myself in a position where I am with someone who clearly doesn’t want to be with me.

        About a year ago I had a post on my “3 keys to a successful relationship”. They were:

        – actively love one another
        – don’t be selfish
        – communicate

        To me, those are things I NEED moving forward. And If I meet someone who can’t understand and/or appreciate that, then they are not a good fit for me.

        And even over the long term, if someone stops doing any of those things I will do what I can to get things back on track. If those 3 things don’t get back on track, then I would be out.

        So yes – here’s to a 2017 of new beginnings!

        Liked by 3 people

      • So this will sound harsh but I am so tired of “the affair” being the be all end all of a marriage. Now don’t get me wrong. They SUCK. Majorly. I have said here before that I was once a participant and many many times the receiver of such an action. It is AWFUL, and I look back on it with nothing but regret. I wish there was an entire board about this or support group rather so this issue could be dug into WAY farther than a couple of paragraphs. It’s so much more complicated then just “feeling alive”. i don’t know you personally but I would guess since this is more of a hot button issue in your writing, you’ve experienced it personally. If that’s the case, my sincerest apologies for what you have gone through. It should never be dismissed as something you made someone else do. It’s ALL them. It’s horribly selfish but I also think people that have done it can change. I also think some marriages can survive. SOME marriages. It takes a shit ton of work for the lucky few that do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Natasha,

        I agree with your comment on how:

        – (some) people that have done it can change
        – (some) marriages can survive

        And I’ll even add that “some” marriages can even be stronger after an affair that before. Not only that, but I also believe that while an affair is ALWAYS wrong, that doesn’t mean the person who was cheated on is always right. Rather, commonly they have contributed to the climate that made the affair possible. Which is not to say they are ever to “blame”, as it’s still a choice on the part of the person who cheated.

        As for marriages being able to survive after, I think it depends on a number of factors.

        first, what was the nature of the affair? Not all affairs are created equal. Some are one night stands with no emotional connection, some are emotional affairs where there is never a physical connection, some are whole other relationships on the side, with a lot of different variations in between. So the nature of the affair is pretty important.

        When there has been a long term affair (more than about 2 years) and both a physical and emotional connection exists, I think it is EXTREMELY unlikely that a marriage can survive. For a lot of the others, it’s a bit easier.

        Another question I would have is, why did the affair happen? I think this one is really important, because unless someone understands WHY they did it, there is always a risk it could happen again.

        And another big one is, does the person take ownership of the affair and are they able to be open and honest with their spouse. The greater the transparency and willingness to roll up their sleeves and work to make the marriage stronger, the better the odds of success.

        There definitely ARE a number of factors that lead people to have affairs, and I don’t want to paint everyone with the same brush. It’s complicated, and it’s nuanced.

        It becomes a hot button topic though because it’s an action that does SO much damage. It erodes trust, and if you think of Mazlows hierarchy of needs, trust and safety is the foundational layer. If that has been damaged, it’s very hard to achieve love and belonging. The trust needs to be repaired first, and that can be very difficult to do.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I get what you’re saying and I agree. I guess my issue is that cheating is just what you said, affairs are usually a side effect. Granted, not a good way to handle things but we don’t always see the bigger picture. The complete honestly about issues in the marriage being ignored, the conversations(or lackthereof) that lead to helplessness and loneliness. It’s not as though, poof, someone cheats and that was the first time anyone ever saw a problem coming.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, other than in extreme cases (which exist) the affair is the symptom of a larger problem.

        My personal belief – the relationship is often the scapegoat for someones unhappiness, when it is actually often personal issue and not the relationship itself.

        Just as how the affair is a symptom of other issues, I think relationship issues are often a symptom of personal issues. So those personal issues (self-esteem, insecurity, fear of intimacy ect) are the ACTUAL problems that need to be solved.

        You’re correct in saying that it’s not as if no one saw a problem coming. One big gap here though is that often the person on the other end is completely blindsided, because although they were aware that problems existed they likely had NO IDEA how severe they were. Because the communication in the relationship was probably awful to begin with (which is a large part of how a couple gets to that spot to begin with).

        In any case, I guess I’ve had a fair bit of focus on affairs in the past bit – but they really aren’t the intended topic of thezombieshuffle.

        My goal has been more to look at how to have a healthy emotional life, and how to have a healthy relationship and work through common issues. If I’m starting to veer off into “affair land” it’s probably because affairs are sadly a common outcome from many of the other issues if they aren’t resolved. I’ll try to get back on track for other stuff as well…

        Like

      • Hi there, just read through some of your story and it’s heartbreaking.

        I don’t really know what to say other than it’s a shitty situation. But based on your “It’s no Big Deal” post I think the patterns here are pretty well established for you.

        I will say, it’s NOT what guys do. Sure, some men (and women) will pull that shit. But it’s not alright, ever.

        Whatever you decide to do, don’t ever forget to love yourself in this. As I said to William above, YOU matter too.

        You made a comment about feeling like damaged goods, and I understand that feeling all too well. I found myself having to start again at the age of 42, with my children 1/2 the time. And when you’ve been with someone for almost 20 years, that can be scary as hell.

        The main thing that keeps me afloat is a belief in myself – that I am a good person and I have made good choices. And the main positive that came from the breakdown of my marriage is I truly learned who I am, and what I need out of life and love.

        And understanding that, I would much rather be alone then ever be with someone who doesn’t value me, or doesn’t want the things that I want.

        All the best.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I think one of the huge things people miss when it comes to marriage is that a lot of the time, people don’t actually enter a marriage because they’re in love(gasp!).
    I think people are infatuated, sex driven, pregnant, broke, have low self esteem, like to control people, are young, and the list goes on and on and on why I personally believe people dive into marriage or even start relationships to begin with. Perhaps it’s cowardice to stay when these people come to grips with their reasoning for being part of the relationship, but I don’t believe it’s a simple as being cowardice. I think many people operate on the belief that we as humans put our love and relationship with another person above all else, and yahg couldn’t be farther from the truth. While I believe that to be a rather empty life, I think many others would disagree.
    I also want to bring up the one thing that I think gets commonly overlooked. We spend a lot of time looking at problems and how to solve them in relationships when we seem to miss one huge thing, people just change. I look back at my needs in my twenties, and as a young single mother my primary need was survival. Like I needed to eat and make sure my daughter could as well.
    My needs headed into my late thirties are QUITE different. What was most important to me before is not nearly as important to me now. Sometimes people grow. Sometimes their partners do not. I am the first to say that people tend to bail WAY too early on relationships, especially marriages when things get rough. I also think at times a relationship hits a point where it has served its purpose and naturally run its course.
    I feel like I may have gotten way off topic. I blame a new knee injury and horrible head cold if I am causing confusion but it somehow made sense to me😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, head colds and knee injuries aside, you do bring up a really important point.

      People change.

      Some in big ways, and some in smaller ones.

      I’m not sure how much I believe a persons core “self” changes. For that, I think it’s almost more likely that people suppress their core self early on in order to try and be what they believe the other person wants, and over time that facade will end up falling away. But we do change.

      Or perhaps another way of looking at it is, sometimes it takes us a long time to figure out who we actually are.

      Many get married in their early-mid 20’s. And at that age, I’m not sure how many of us actually know who we are or what we want out of life.

      I look at the “me” that I am in my early 40’s, and compare that to the “me” I was in my early 20’s. And truly, the core version of me is the same. I still enjoy the same things, and try and treat people the same ways.

      One of the huge differences though is in understanding myself. Who I am. What I want out of life, and out of love. What I can accept, what I can’t. And perhaps most importantly, what is “enough” for me.

      These are things I believe I know now, that I didn’t know then. And although the past few years were fairly difficult, in some ways I owe the fact that I know myself now TO those harder times.

      I’m not sure if people ever stop growing (I don’t think they should), and this is where a sense of “us” is really important to me. Doing things together, and always being vulnerable and authentic with each other is the best way to ensure that as we grow, we grow together.

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      • I do think “core self” remains intact to some degree but it evolves. For instance, I despise people that wear fur. In my twenties I used to tell them. As I’ve gotten older I decided not to tell them but to volunteer for animal rescues and focus on education. I also have always enjoyed having friends all my life but as I’ve aged I’ve become more selective. I think it’s a theme for people as they get older actually. Whether it be in regards to work, relationships, friendships, we kind of become more mindful about everything. Perhaps it’s a hidden reason for the deterioration of some marriages.

        Scary to think then that it all boils down to luck? Finding someone that will grow with you and put as much value into everything as you do. I mean you can lay everything out on the table but as people do get to know their real selves, you just may not be included in their version of the future.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Natasha,
      I think you made sense. You said “people don’t actually enter a marriage because they’re in love(gasp!).
      I think people are infatuated, sex driven, pregnant, broke, have low self esteem, like to control people, are young, and the list goes on and on and on why I personally believe people dive into marriage or even start relationships to begin with.” and you said “I think many people operate on the belief that we as humans put our love and relationship with another person above all else, and yahg couldn’t be farther from the truth.”…
      I think you are on target here.
      But I think what happens is people do (maybe especially women) tend to place a LOT of value and emphasis on the romantic relationship- and the list that you started off with- those are the things that people bring to the relationships.
      I think you are absolutely on target that many people get involved with others to escape their own realities (such as low self esteem or need to control people) , but all that really happens is you get compounded issues- yours and theirs!
      If we cant take the time to address the issues that make our life difficult as a single, then I really don’t think we would take time to address relationship issues.
      We would find some other way to run and hide.
      I say that, but with a strong belief that as human beings we aren’t meant to be in relationships and communities. We ARE better off with other people, we just have to learn to care for ourselves and care for our relationships- as the things of importance that they really are.
      I get being young , and struggling and needing help. I get accepting the help that is offered. I think youre right, some relationships aren’t meant for a life time. But, to your statement about people changing…I know that the reality is that some people wont grow and change. If you stay married, it means staying in a confined box of sorts, their box and not yours…theres two things I want to say to this- 1.) if there is a genuine relationship with the person. If you love them , but you want more- then you as an individual have every reason to seek out what it is you want to do. That doesn’t mean affairs- that means getting in shape, or learning how to sail- or whatever. You should continue to grow the way you are being drawn to grow without comparing it to the growth of your partner, or the need for them to do x, y or z with you. This is what they teach in alanon- for spouses who stayed married to an alcoholic- they strongly, strongly encourage personal growth and a continued life for the non-alcoholic spouse.
      Because I believe the relationship has effects and affects on the individuals, one person changing will change the relationship, ..and the other person.
      The thing is, though- many people are afraid and see that as a negative instead of the potentially good thing that it is…
      I definitely believe people can grow with their partners, but there has to be active involvement in the relationship. It is too easy to start looking out for yourself, and act as though you are the only one in the relationship when there isn’t active involvement.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “I think you are absolutely on target that many people get involved with others to escape their own realities (such as low self esteem or need to control people) , but all that really happens is you get compounded issues- yours and theirs!”

        Agreed. There is a HUGE difference between wanting to be *with* someone, and not wanting to be alone.

        I don’t think you can have a really healthy relationship until you are able to accept yourself, are happy with yourself as you are, and are able to be on your own.

        In that framework, a relationship is about taking the life you have and finding someone to share it with.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you. I really need to do a better job of editing before posting anything. Usually I hit post, and then notice a lot of little spelling and grammatical errors.

      It’s never a good sign when I re-read my post, and I’m not sure what the heck I was actually trying to say – and I’m the one who wrote it!!!

      Like

  10. Starting over,
    Just as a side note- something I was thinking about.
    I’m a “wordy” in the sense that I really enjoy understanding the roots of the words we use. To me, this isn’t semantics- its more like uncovering hidden meanings and truths to things we say everyday.
    So, when I say I appreciate something- I really and truly mean that I give it value, or I highly value it.
    Two words that I was thinking about in regards to my response today are
    1.The word consider. In latin that says ” with star (s)”…and what it actually referred to was the wonder that was received from looking at the stars. So, when you consider something- it means to look with wonder. When you consider someone it means to look at them with wonder. In less frilly language, it means to regard them as the unique individuals they are.
    2.) The word respect. I found this very interesting..re, meaning “do again” and “spect” meaning spectacle , or sight. So, it literally means to look again…maybe with consideration.. 🙂

    I know there is a lot of complex, nuanced stuff that goes into any and all relationships- and I didn’t mean to imply “you have no self respect” , as if it were an insult.
    I think women in general are taught to give and give, and we aren’t taught to love ourselves.
    That doesn’t mean to the exclusion of others, for me it just means that I am just as worthy of a recipient of the love I offer so freely.
    Thank you for your prayers (they are sincerely appreciated!) my prayer and hope for the new year is for all of us who need it to have a deep and abiding sense of self love and self respect, knowing that we can only do good to others if we are good to ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “We can always evolve and learn as individuals and partners.”

      I agree fully, and I think people forgetting that (and expecting relationships to “just happen”) is one of the big things that causes them to fail.

      Like

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