Marriage requires sacrifice. But most people are lazy, self-centered idiots.
We were fine at first, same as anyone.
We met, fell in love, got married pretty quick, and had three kids across a decade. Jobs, we had ’em. Dogs, check. A nice home to live in and two cars to park out front, we didn’t miss a beat. American Dream sh*t is what we were living. Except we forgot one monumental thing along the way.
We forgot about each other.
Divorce used to be a taboo word, but now it’s as common as ‘organic’ or ‘Obama’ or ‘porn’. Divorce, once a last ditch option, has become a a major vacation destination from the realities of marriage.
It’s the same old story time and again, although lots of people find all kinds of ways to sneak around it. Married people are liars, mostly, and liars are liars (especially to themselves). We marry another human being, but true colors start to squeeze out after awhile. We’re self-centered and self-motivated. That’s not just me saying that, it’s nature. We want what we want and we know that we deserve to be as happy as possible every single day of our lives. (I mean, The Internet told me that, so it must be true right?) And with that mindset firmly in place, whole slews of modern marriages die suffocating deaths long before anyone ever even says ‘I do’.
Fact is, those of us who are separated or divorced like to say that things just “weren’t meant to be”, that we were with a person for as long as we were “supposed to be” with them, and then we moved on rightfully. That’s cool. I can’t argue with anyone’s tale. However, it’s pretty obvious that we leave out one, huge, important truth and that’s this:
Long ago, back when we were still freshly married and still having pretty decent sex and still comfortable confiding our dreams and secrets to our spouse, we fought hard to make things work. We carefully steered our marriage down the lane like you’re supposed to steer it, with patience and open-mindedness and a willingness to listen, listen, listen (and listen some more) without spraying our big dumb opinions around like bug spray.
Then we got lazy.
It’s grueling work being a husband or wife. And when no one’s really paying attention, we start cutting critical emotional and soulful corners. We start drifting from the concentrated effort required to make love last. We get all caught up in ourselves, in our own pursuit of that personal happiness we think we so deserve, and we end up growing increasingly bored with our own situation. In the end, we begin to wonder if all of this lack of happiness within the marriage might actually be the other person’s fault.
That’s usually when we start telling ourselves that “we married the wrong guy” or girl. In our tired heads, we plug some other old flame or missed opportunity into the empty snapshot of happiness we have hanging on the wall of our skull. We convince ourselves that we would have been way better off with the one that got away.
“He was my true soulmate! And he still is! I should know! We talk on Facebook!”
We’re bored with the fact that our spouse is getting kind of bored, too … and that, THAT, is the real beginning of the actual end. So we loosen our grip even more, exhausted by the fruits of our own lazy heart. The work and effort it takes to love another adult human being just wears us the hell out. What was once a great love, shapeshifts in our own two hands. And even though we recognize the change, we don’t do anything about it other than sigh and eat another slice of pizza.
Married people often forget everything about everything.
They stop listening/then they stop kissing/then they stop feeling/they get annoyed/then they get angry/then they get sad that they’re angry/then they get an idea/then they get curious/then they notice they checked out long ago/then they check out again, one last time.
Somewhere along the way, though, I can’t help but think that maybe a little mindfulness might have saved the whole sinking marriage ship. If we had just reminded ourselves every 10 minutes or so that we ought to be looking at our lover (they’d still be a ‘lover’ probably) and that we ought to be wondering what they’re thinking and if they’re cool and if they might need to riff on something, on anything really, just to release a bit of steam, and maybe if our partner had done the same damn thing, maybe, just maybe, the love wouldn’t have had it’s throat slit by our very own daggers.
But it’s hard to know when it’s all over.
But maybe, just maybe, before we called it a day, a few of us would have finally found that hard-to-find happiness sitting right there in front of our faces.
Maybe I would have finally found that hard-to-find happiness sitting right there in front of my eyes.
Imagine that, happiness sitting right there in front of you, in front of me, in the last place on Earth we would have ever thought to look.
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This article originally appeared on YourTango.
Photo credit: daniel julià lundgren/flickr