and other times, the change happens to slowly that you don’t realise it until it is too late. You just look up one day and wonder: “How the hell did I get here?”
We think marriage will last forever, because we made a promise to each other, and in certain cases, a promise to God. You are aware that things are not as good as you would like, but you push through every day hoping the next will be better. You get so good at acting and pretending things are OK, that you even start believing yourself. Then, somewhere along the way, you stop fighting and you stop caring. No-one gets married with the idea of getting divorced. No-one is prepared for that one little sentence: “I want a divorce.”
When you get married, people are always telling you how much work marriage is. What they fail to tell you, ever, is exactly what they mean by that. What is this work you are supposed to do? It’s so easy to look back and find the mistakes that you made, but when you are in the thick of it, you can’t exactly see the forest for the trees! And by the time you realise you are lost in the woods, sometimes the only way out is to cut down those trees.
When is love enough to keep two people together? Is it even love that keeps people together, or is it simply perseverance and self-sacrifice? Maybe we have just over-romanticised the idea in books and movies and these days, social media. “If he really loves you, he would do this…or that…or the next thing…” “If she really loves you, then…”
What is love anyway? There are of course different types of love. I don’t love my dogs the same way I love my kids, or my horse the same way I love my mother. But I refer specifically to romantic love now. What is it exactly? Is it Romeo and Juliette, willing-to-take-your-own-life-just-to-be-together kind of love? Is it waiting for that soldier to come back from the war? Or is it making a promise to someone and staying married to them no matter what the personal cost to yourself is? Is it looking into someone’s eyes and seeing your future there, for no logical reason at all? Is it walking away from someone when you think what you want won’t make them happy in the end? What is this illusive thing we call love?
People are fickle, and so are their emotions. There are no sure-fire recipes for success in anything, especially not when high-voltage emotions such as love are in play. There don’t seem to be any cookie-cut answers. Relationships are as different as the people in them. The same seems to apply to the end of a relationship…some end in screaming and fighting. Some just slowly run down like a wind-up clock…