Most who read my Blog would be aware that my marriage went through some interesting times over the last four years which resulted in me now being separating permanently from my ex-wife and best friend of 17 plus years.
In more recent times I have watched another best friend’s marriage disintegrate into a bitter, hateful situation when both sides are always defensive and looking to get the next point over their partner. Their relationship has descended into a win at all cost “ War of the Roses ” and both parties have resorted to using their 3 kids as cannon fodder against each other ( even if they are unaware of what they are doing ).
Another friend is currently going through a domestic abuse hell from her partner that has resulted in criminal charges against her ex-husband and she is now living 24/7 with the fear of him turning up and finishing the job he had started.
And then last night I was talking to a another ( 20 year plus ) friends wife only to be told in secrecy that her marriage is a complete sham and that from the moment she walked down the aisle she knew it was the wrong thing to do but felt trapped and unable to get out of the marriage. She informed me that her wedding day tears walking down the aisle were not tears of happiness but tears of sadness and regret of what was happening.
The sad truth is I’ve only listed four marriages above but in reality I could run off a list of twenty or more friends and associates who’s marriage did not stand the test of time.
Yes, I too know people who have been married for very long periods, including my parents who have been married 50 years and my sister who this week is celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary, but they are the minority, an ever decreasing group who have to date stood strong against all that time, marriage and life has thrown at them. Some are still there out of genuine love, some out of long formed habit and some out of fear of being alone.
How does this happen between two people who once loved each other openly and unconditionally ?
I have many thoughts about relationships but since my marriage did not survive you may not want to put too much weight onto my beliefs, many are probably off the mark but all are qualified by real relationships that I have either been a part of or have observed first hand.
I think the first big killer of any relationship is the fight for control within a relationship, I have not yet seen a relationship that is 100% amicable where both parties agree on everything all the time. That I think most would agree is impossible and a fantasy world saved for day time sitcoms.
Every couple will have disagreements, every couple will attempt to “ Negotiate ” a compromise and every couple over time will feel like “ They ” are the ones that ALWAYS have to compromise, every couple will start to resent the inability to have it their own way and will feel more and more like “ Their opinion doesn’t matter anymore to anyone ”, individuals start to feel dis-empowered, lost and without a voice. The power battles start and suddenly the decision over which show you both watch or the colour of the new blinds takes on an illogical level of importance that is more deeply rooted in the need of each individual to be heard than it is about the actual topic.
Another big issue I feel is an ever growing phenomenon in marriage for the need to “ Change ” or “ Fix ” those silly little flaws in our partners. Just about, actually ALL relationships that I have observed have started independent, but before long at least one side of the relationship ( if not both ) attempt to change the other half, to “ Mould ” them into a mirror of themselves. While opposites attract it makes for hard work to constantly negotiate a compromise and inevitably one will attempt to conform the other so that the day to day existence of a relationship becomes less work and easier.
Can you remember when you first moved in with your partner ? Can you remember the small insignificant things that shouldn’t have mattered but in reality drove you mad with frustration. Did they leave the toothpaste lid off ? Did they not close the wardrobe doors when they were finished ? Did they want to watch their shows all the time instead of your shows ?
I believe that in most relationships this is natural and one side will always be willing to give that slight bit more than the other. The issues come into a relationship when one side feels that they have paid their dues and given more than their share of ground for the relationship but are constantly asked to give yet more.
Finally I think the third big killer of marriages is “ Jealousy ”, unless it was an arranged marriage ( which is a whole other story ) we all would have met our partners at some type of social gathering, be it Church, the Pub, Through Friends ect .. we as humans are social creatures, we thrive on connecting with others, in fact we cannot survive in isolation.
Yet despite our partners having multiple friends of both sexes when we met them it is amazing how many partners don’t TRUST their partners to remain social outside of the marriage. I ask you this question, “ Would you allow your partner to go out to dinner and a movie with a member of the opposite sex alone ? ”.
If your answer is no I would ask YOU why ? Do you not trust them ? Do you not trust the other person ? Do you not trust yourself in the same situation ?
Without trust in any relationship you have nothing.
It is YOUR issue that YOU need to deal with and carry the burden of. It is not for your partner to carry your insecurities for you or to resolve. You do not own your partner and therefore have no rights to restrict or control their life.
On a lighter side, I have a young nephew about to marry one of the most beautiful souls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, they really do seem to be the real deal, a couple that will stand the test of time. Everyone is excited about their wedding day which is such a refreshing feeling in today’s cynical world.
They really do stand as a beacon of hope for us all and of what is right about this world.
So please raise your glasses and toast with me to “ Mathew & Lilly ” as a reminder to us all of what it was once like and of how it should always be.