love and marriage

8 Sep

Mid-July, I went to the library to return a stack of  books and get some new ones out.  Normally, I read like crazy over the summer, but somehow this year has been a little less reading-intensive.  My 52 books in the year challenge is a little behind schedule (26/34 isn’t terrible, and I’ve got a couple of books here started that I just need to finish up).  It was a pretty lofty goal anyway.


I used to go to the library with a list of books I would like to read/authors to look up.  Lately, I’ve just been going in, wandering the stacks til I find a title that I like, then reading the jacket and deciding to keep it or put it back.  Completely random, but I’ve found some decent books that way.  So maybe it was fate (if you believe in that kind of thing) that one of the books I picked up could  fall into my lap at such a perfect time.


the most perfect section of the novel for right now

the most perfect section of the novel for right now


A month or so ago now, my parents told us that they are officially, legally separated.  And even though I knew they had been having problems for a long time, even though I had counseled them on many occasions to get a divorce and move on and be happy, I would be lying if I said this news was anything but devastating.


I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why it bothers me so much, given what I knew of their strained-for-the-past-few-years-relationship.  I grew up with a pretty abnormal childhood–I had 9 brothers and sisters and parents who were, I thought, madly in love with each other.  There was never much money, but we were so happy.  We were a tight-knit family, and so I grew up with this image of what I wanted someday–a husband who adored me, a mess of kids who were adorable and bright and got along well (I think very highly of us kids haha), a cozy home, and blissful happiness.   And I am so incredibly sad that my youngest siblings won’t have what the older kids had–this model of a good relationship.  On the flip side, I wonder if the older kids saw a good relationship or they saw a fractured one that had been gilded over.  I feel like a rug’s been ripped out from underneath me, like everything I thought before about love and marriage  is potentially wrong.


So my aunts and I have been talking a lot.  One of their things is to always look for the positive.  The lesson you can learn about life.  How to apply the situation to make things better in the future.  It’s a good way to look at negative stuff, because it really does make you feel even just the teeniest bit more hopeful about things.


So anyway, the book I took that quote from chronicled a couple’s entire relationship–how they met, got together, got engaged, when they had kids, and then their ugly divorce.  Throughout, there were problems.  The problems got more heated at the end, but there were issues throughout the relationship–things one or the other did or didn’t do that caused issues.  The relationship lacked communication–they fought, but never really communicated about the fight.  They fought unfairly, saying horrible things to each other out of anger rather than walking away and biting tongues to be less hurtful.  Neither individual person ever looked at what he/she could do differently, just blamed it on the other person.  There was not much self-reflection going on.


The other day, when I was looking up stuff on how to help kids deal with divorce (because my little siblings are who I worry about most in all of this), I found this quote:



I guess if I had to find the take away in all this disastrous separation business, I’d say that it has made me think more about the quote above.  About how the grass is always greener where you water it; that marriage is a choice and a commitment, and it’s one that comes with a lot of work and responsibility.  Does it sometimes go with the flow, all easy and Disney-princess-fairy-tale-esque?  Sure.  But there are also times where it is work, and damn hard work at that.  But it’s work that is worth it if both people are willing to commit to doing it and to be constantly working to become better, stronger, more unified.  I guess when people decide to split up, it’s because they’ve decided they just don’t want to work on the relationship anymore.  And that’s really sad to me.  It makes me wonder why not.  Why was someone good enough and someone you wanted to work for at one time, that you stood up and said so in front of family and friends and even God for some people, but then you just quit feeling like putting in the work?  You just wanted to give up responsibility for keeping the relationship alive and healthy?  Where does that breaking point come in?  When do two people look at each other and say, “Used to love you passionately, but now I hate you and want you out of my life?”  Why does it take some people a year or two and others 33 years ?  And I guess it’s like the book quote says, that “it is all the rot beneath that makes for the collapse.”  So the key is to make sure there is no rot that forms, that if you notice rot, you clean it out immediately to make sure the foundation is strong enough to withstand anything life can throw at you.


Some people would hear “marriage” and think of love, romance, flowers, hearts.  But the reality is that marriage, while it is those things, is also work and responsibility; a job, and arguably the most important job you have.  The book ended relatively happily–with the couple able to talk to each other without anger (although there was still a little bitterness for sure) and their daughter was no longer saying she hated them both.  They worked things out so that they both saw their kid equally and that they were able to be there for their kid together.  And I guess at this point, I just hope that my family can get to that point, sooner rather than later.


One Response to “love and marriage”

  1. Greg Rowe September 8, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    Sometimes it is because people realized they made a mistake and all the work in the world won’t make things better. Sometimes it is better for everyone to endure the horrendous pain and move on because sometimes things are better. Not always. I don’t believe it is ever easy.

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