It seems all around me long-term relationships, marriages and families are, or have, or continue to blow up. From posts in the blogging world to my friends and acquaintances and even in my own personal experience, there seems to be so much crap and residual crap floating around. It has all definitely changed my traditional views on marriage, family and relationship longevity over the years.
For context, my parents are still together after 50+ years of marriage. I have four siblings and out of the five of us, four have gotten married and three divorced. I’m one of the divorced sets and have two kids. Same with one of my sisters.
I’m sure I was in love with my husband as much as anyone can be sure of what love actually is. I’m quite certain that he was in love with me, too. At some point he stopped loving me and at some point, after he made that abundantly clear, I eventually stopped loving him. All the emotions that follow the shock and trauma of being suddenly and sloppily un-loved surfaced, and still the residual crap tends to haunt me from time to time.
I think that one of the inherent problems with falling out of love is not the fact of itself that it happens, it’s that people rarely fall out of love simultaneously. Way more often than not it seems to happen that one partner has checked out, possibly moved on, and the other flounders in the crushing tidal waves of emotion, agitated further by the abrupt removal of the object of this huge emotion known as intimate love. And so, love abandoned seems to turn in on itself, mocking the body and soul in which it is housed, ensuring a slow and painful death until it is willingly cast away, because to hold it becomes more painful than letting go. Trusting love again becomes an uphill battle.
I can’t help but wonder how much more humane parting of ways would be if we could, as couples, synchronize our love/un-love watches. Although rare, I have seen couples meet these time frames at roughly the same points together. The result is intriguing, encouraging even, resembling a friendly pat on the back with genuine respect intact. Where children are involved, they are transitioned into a new dynamic, but not one fraught with fear, distrust and bitterness. They do not become the default benefactors of emotions so huge that they are inevitably unleashed, and violently clash between those couples who find themselves at such extremes of the love – un-love spectrum.
I want my daughters to experience love, companionship, long-term relationships and family. What I don’t want is for them to have to experience guilt, low self-esteem, fear of loving again or any other number of negative outcomes the one-sided end of an intense intimate loving relationship can bring. I also don’t want them to be careless with a partner if it is one of my daughters who has fallen out of love and ends the relationship. I want to prepare them so that they don’t avoid love or commitment (because these are wonderful things) but for the reality that things can change and that they know how to act and respond in a way that doesn’t end with either partner being permanently wounded.
I suppose my pondering leads to the fantastical question: Is it possible and desirable that couples when engaging in loving relationships, acknowledge that one day love may dwindle for one, and promise each other that each will call on the foundation of their original love to see each other compassionately through to the other side of un-love?
This musing is brought to you by the grey, dark, cold month of February.