Monday, June 16, 2008

General Observations on Bad Marriages

Let me preface this by stating that I know I am not perfect nor am I in a perfect marriage that is perfect every moment of the day. There is no perfect marriage, but there can be those couples that make other people angry or sick because they are good together (That's my wife & I). Marriage has been on my mind for a while because so many couples that I know are going through trouble at this time, are ending it all, are drifting towards a future of apathy, or are not facing their problems to determine if it is right to stay together or separate. I sometimes let these things bother me because I try to have compassion for my friends and even random people I talk to, and I always want to see people happy. If it means happy together , then it means happy together. If it means happy alone, then it means happy alone.

As a good listener and the carrier of my mother's curse of being a person that many people confide in for no reason, I recently received an email from an acquaintance that went like this... "My home life is bothering me. We're in a rut. We're terrible at communicating with each other because we just get mad and don't talk. Then, we think we're over it and get mad at a later date about something else and, next thing you know, there is a build up of 3+ years of stuff that we haven't really talked about." Yeah, this got dropped on me when i simply asked "you were quiet at the meeting today, what's up". Can I do anything about it? Nope. Is it kind of cryptic and hypocritical? Yeah, as it describes a problem and hints at more issues, yet the person shares with me a pretty personal story that is about failure to share with the most important person in their life. HELLLOOOOOOO?!!?!? Have I learned plenty of things about this couple to think that they got married for the wrong reasons, are in a bad situation that seems to get worse, and should probably be divorced soon? Maybe. This email example is a bit one sided. The paragraph, plus a missing sentence that say the woman let's it get her down some days and how she's going to dedicate next month to working on the marriage hints that it isn't all dark. Because some days I can hide the pain! Yah! Couldn't counseling in a safe, neutral setting where a true communication occurs help, yeah that's the ticket, and maybe if you talked through problems instead of just get mad at one another, couldn't that help, yeah yeah, then try a solution to address the problem rather than let it build up inside for years. Hmmm, years of crap, hmmmm, sounds like a great marriage. Plus, why tell me over email????

This is just an example of the small and big problems I see and hear. I ended up calling my Mom about these confessions, and she laughed at the idea of fixing a problem in one month. I agree, as we humans are creatures of habit, and one month doesn't change shit. It's like my spendthrift friends who talk of curbing their spending and end up relapsing at the first video game release or concert ticket sale that arrives. We discussed the problems of people oversharing at work. My Mom had the wisdom of having heard so many stories over the years from people over years if not decades in the same situation with failed attempts or no change. I see these bad or lame marriages constantly but do not have the depth of her knowledge. Why stay? I think there's a few reasons:

1. It's better for the kid if we stick together. Not necessarily. It could further warp the kid to stick together.
2. I have low self esteem, low self worth and a myriad of self image problems that tell me that I don't deserve better. I think this applies to both genders. I know guys who will stick together because they don't strive for better and excuse the partners behavior out of some dereliction of duty they have mysteriously done that no one knows about.
3. I did fall in love with this person, they just aren't that person anymore but I can hope that they will change back into that person I love(d). These are the people I feel the worst for as they have hope, and hope is a dangerous thing.
4. Fear of the unknown, being alone, and of change. This is the secret one when somoene won't leave a situation despite all of their people supporting them, counselors giving them guidance and strength, and an obvious abuse/neglect situation. It's like every single person out there knows someone who divorced and never remarried, living alone for the rest of their life, and instead of recognizing that they had a good life on their own, they pity them or view that person as living an incomplete life. BS.
5. I am defined by my relationships. These are the people who cannot be alone and find self worth in being in a relationship or needed. Sad part is that you can spot these people in High School.

It is hard for me to understand these people, but I try. I try to help people out. After a while, I dislike hearing for the 30th time how a husband is a douchebag or for the 3rd time that someone's wife asked if they could "get coffee with other people". I ultimately believe the folks I have contact with now whoe are under 35 and in bad marriages will probably stay married and just have those bad marriages. Probably end up with some decade long affair somewhere in their 40s. It's up to you the individual to do something about your situation. You decided to have the wedding and get married. That was a big decision. It's equally as big to make the decision to leave. It is possible. First step is to try to address the current situation. Don't be lazy. It's your life.


"AG" said...

I've also always had people confide in me, especially when I used to be a counselor and would tell them as much. Some people are not interested in change, and want to unload verbally so they can continue in their rut. I always simply ask, "So what will you do about it?" I no longer invest in people who won't invest in themselves. They're grown ups and I've got too much shit to do.

"AG" said...

Sorry for the bad word in your comments. :(

Son of Brock Landers said...

Swears are encouraged. My audience of 25 can handle it.

Sometimes I just have too big of a heart to not empathize. No matter how brutal I try to be the rest of the time. :)

You were a counselor? wait, you listened to people's problems and tried to help instead of just recommending antidepressants? Slow down.

"AG" said...

SOBL one of the many reasons I left that profession was because of the over medication of people (in my opinion), especially kids.

Regarding your big heart, no doubt you have one, but ultimately it's not helpful to be an enabler which, in some cases, occurs when someone can continually unload, thereby releasing, temporarily, feelings that should be used to motivate them to change. I always look at what works, not what makes me or them feel good in the moment.