Almost all couples go through at least one phase of crisis in their marital relationship. The nature of the relationship is such that episodes of deep conflict appear natural. Just when they thought they had it figured out, that they really understood each other, and that they could make it work together, they found themselves at the crossroads. This is the key to remember, if you are married, you are going to go through a period of crisis, at least one such phase that may completely challenge everything you know about yourself, your partner and your relationship. If you two can stay together during that difficult phase, there is very little probability of ever separating thereafter.
A pertinent question is how do you know if your marriage can work? Should you be putting your effort to try and pull on, or move on instead? There is no definitive answer as each individual is unique and each marriage, a little different. I can, however, offer you five analogies, metaphors if you will, of broken marriages. As follows:
1. Fresh Wound
Let us say you have a wonderful marriage. You are intimate, understand each other, share common interests and enjoy mostly a good life. There are no major arguments and there are no violent disagreements. The vehicle of your marriage is moving just fine. And one fine day, you find out that your partner cheated on you. Such cheating could range from flirting to philandery. Clearly, you are hurt. Badly. You feel your world has come to a dead end. You are certain of never being able to love your partner again. You feel suffocated. Well, do not call it off just yet. You may want to consider forgiving your partner if it was a one-off thing, if you sense sincerity. Like many other mistakes, this could simply be a mistake on his part, albeit a grave one. This is a fresh wound, it will heal over time. Provided, of course, it does not keep getting scraped again. But yes, it is going to leave a scar. God forbid, if you go through this, give yourself time, six months to a year, to see if you feel differently before making a radical decision.
2. Dented Car
When you are on the road for hundreds of days in a year, it is quite possible for your car to get scratched. Even if you are ultra careful, a shopping cart in the parking lot may come uninvited chipping your car. Some rowdy ones may do graffiti on your car, some jealous or ignorant types may just enjoy drawing on it with their keys. Sometimes, in a marriage, external factors can cause damage to your relationship. That could be demands at work, social commitments, expectations of in-laws or other family members and so on. Often, these ones are manageable with mutual understanding and commitment. Sit down and talk to each other, work it out, make changes, prioritize. Do not let these minor scratches ruin your driving pleasure. They can be repaired and more importantly, they are inevitable.
3. Birth Mark
Imagine a birth mark, a prominent one, on the face. There is very little you can do about it, unless you choose some artificial method. The partners are stuck together for whatever reason, may be because of their children. Sometimes they believe they are making a sacrifice, but many a time, they lack an option. They have no where to go, no one to look upto and their inner turmoil makes them confused. A lot of marriages fall under this category. The two partners are not living, just living by, they are not together, just living together, they are not in love anymore, just loving, theirs is not just about two opinions but a fundamental difference of opinion. If you cannot move out, and you cannot make it work the way you wish, you better find a way to be happy, to be at peace. There is no point complaining in this type of marriage. It will not yield any results, in fact, it will end up making you more negative and stressed. This marriage is unlikely to offer you that joy, bliss and care you may be seeking. Turn inward; that is the best recourse, the way to permanent bliss, unconditional, unsullied, independent and unselfish. Have a little bit of self dialog, discover your own method, your own path. Turn that birth mark into a beauty spot.
4. Broken Vase
Some marriages are like the broken vase. Just before getting dropped, it was beautiful, carefully crafted and was holding together fresh and fragrant roses. One careless move and bang! It shatters into pieces. Someone did not exercise care. The greater the fall, more the damage. If it shatters into hundreds of pieces, it is not possible to repair anymore. If, however, the drop was not so great, one may be able to put it together again. It will forever look patchy though, it will never be the same again. It will become a great degree more fragile thereafter. The impact of the drop is directly proportional to the gravity of the error. You cannot undo your own or your partner’s acts; if the pieces cannot be rejoined and you have a choice, move on and learn to get over it.
5. Malignant Tumor
This type of marriage is not about a one-off mistake, it is repeated abuse of trust, of sanctity. If your partner just does not care, could not be bothered, if he has made it clear that he will not change his ways, that, this is the way he is, you can try your best, it will make absolutely no positive impact on the quality of your marriage. If you can be without such a partner, move on. And, if you cannot be, there is no point searching for answers. If you are stuck because you cannot be independent, you practically have no choice. A relationship like this only worsens with time. This is the harsh truth. If the other partner does not believe there is a problem, that, anything needs resolving, how can any corrective measures ever be taken? When a tumor is malignant in nature, it needs to be removed, lest it results in a terminal condition. There is no other option.
Good marriages are like maintaining a garden. You can do your own math as to what that may be like! To quote Jiddu Krishnamurti, husband and wife are like the rail tracks, they go parallel but never meet. My personal take on this statement: that is fine, however, issues arise when other lines come crisscrossing changing the course of these tracks! The danger is always at the junction, on diversions. If you are going straight, you have much less to worry about.
I wish there was a ‘u’ in marriage rather than an I. Perhaps, things would have been easier. Heavens! there is no ‘v’ in it either. No wonder, it requires constant care. Somewhere between mar, rage and age, sits the lonely I. Love has ‘v’ (we) in it. Fulfillment has ‘u’ before ‘i’ as does beautiful. Marriage is not all about what is in it, it is a great deal about what is silent about it, like we, you, us, ours. I is in marriage, but it is not about I, if it was, it would be more a mirage.
I will write more on the present topic, including why people cheat and when should you move out, in the next post or two. Stay tuned.