Have you ever wondered that? I have. But I don’t anymore. May be because with time I’ve started to own my marriage and my husband and the life we have created together.
Marriage is work. Loads of it. It is exhausting work sometimes. Contrary to what’s exhibited in popular media, marriage is hardly a walk in the park. Marriage is actually the park itself. And we build the park as we inhabit it. Slowly and tenderly. A lot of blood, sweat, tears, emotion and disagreements go into it. It almost never turns out the way we had envisioned it initially. But we usually come to love it and cherish it.
But what happens in the unhappy case where the park doesn’t turn out at all to our liking? Do we abandon something that we spent years or at least months building? Wouldn’t that be a waste of time, energy and emotional investment?
Surprisingly, what we care about the most when a marriage fails is not the emotion but the time. The time that we put in and the time we ultimately lost. When actually the loss is mostly of our emotion. Because emotion is pure and time is just time. We can may be make up for lost time by having another successful relationship but our bruised emotion is the thing that actually suffers in the process and can never be returned to us.
Which makes me wonder more about why women and some men stay in abusive relationships. Do they feel that their emotional investment hasn’t seen return and like all other investments, a return will come, even if many years late? Or do they feel that by accepting failure of a marriage they are accepting failure of emotion? Or is it because a failing marriage isn’t made up of only the bad usually but is actually a usually generally happy event with occasional, off-the-charts dark moments that mar the happiness of the entire relationship? Or is it because a couple, even when they are okay with walking away from a relationship and are okay with seeing their time and emotion going unfulfilled, are actually worried about how people in their surroundings might have invested THEMSELVES into their relationship?
It’s complex and this complexity doesn’t make a failing marriage easy. While you and I can recommend a million ways in which we would have thrived under the strain of a struggling marriage, all those recommendations and advice-column worthy advice is useless because of the uniqueness of every situation and also because there are actually no know-it-alls which is why we can’t offer the same advice to all types of marital problems i.e. stick it out and things will eventually get better.
The next time someone asks for your advice on their marriage, advise them as you see fit. Let your heart out. Let them know your tall ideas of the institution of marriage, how you feel a couple is being selfish by just thinking about themselves and not collateral damage like kids and parents, how life alone would be so hard, how this is the first step towards eternal damnation. Impose yourself on them if that’s what’s you feel like doing in their vulnerable moment.
But if you feel that someone is deliberately avoiding your two cents, then reserve your opinion. This will do this unhappy couple a world of good. Because when people are in a unique situation, they shouldn’t be counseled by people who are jaded, orthodox and unidimensional in their thinking. If they ask for counsel, it should come from someone who is a good listener, progressive and empathetic. Someone with a good, smart head on their shoulders.