Love in Limestone: Is your ‘for better’ the worst?

Photo by Mike Kutz.


Dirty Deeds Entry

I probably could have had his things shipped to him. Hell, he even offered to pay.

But then, where would I have been?

Certainly not flat on my back, screaming his name.

That’s for sure.

There’s comfort in consistency.

At least, that has to be the reason people stay put in relationships.

But do you believe in the ‘for better or for worse’ mantra? How much ‘worse’ does it have to be before you concede it isn’t really getting any better?

Divorce rates are actually going down. Millennials are single-handedly leading the charge on sticking it out in relationships. According to the National Post, Millennials are staying in long-term commitments because they refuse to – for lack of a better idiom – pull any punches. They are pickier. They are rigorously seeking partners that match their core values, priorities, financial responsibilities, religious views, etc. Essentially, they don’t settle until they’re confident the match will stand the test of ‘for better or for worse.’

Kudos to Millennials. They eat better cheese, are far cleverer than their predecessors in means of finding a mate, all while enjoying avocado toast.

But what happens when you’re A: Not a Millennial, and B: Stuck in a relationship that has all the quirks of love, and sex, but is lacking in emotional stability? Why do men and women stay in upsetting, tumultuous relationships? The pendulum of make-ups and break-ups? Why aren’t people leaving those relationships in favour of being on their own? What keeps them in the churning cycle of dissatisfaction?

What keeps you in a relationship that is sucking out the very essence of your soul?

Is it because many of us refuse to be quitters? Is it because, as Cat Stevens once pointedly coined, ‘it’s a wild world’?

If we’re being honest about the society we currently live in, I think many of us can agree that we’re consistently encouraged to say something. We sit on our phones, and troll through our social feeds, and are inundated by messages screaming at us to talk to someone. Reach out to someone. Speak up, if you’re unhappy. And then we do. We get it all off our chests with vague Facebook statuses, sharing passive aggressive quotes and memes. We chatter to our girlfriends, and our Twitter followers – we lean into support groups and therapists, and counselors.

These are all good things.

Unless you’re refusing to talk to the one person who should be hearing it first: your partner.

And this brings me back to my original point. If actions speak louder than words, and you know you’re dissatisfied, angry, and unhappy, then why are you staying? If the relationship break down has reached the point of no return, where you’re now rushing out to speak to those around you instead of your partner, or your partner is turning a blind eye to the problems afoot, then what becomes the threshold for leaving? Is the ‘for worse’ outweighing the ‘for better’? And if it is, again, I ask, why do we stay?

Avoidance of being alone is not a new concept or theory. Many psychologists and counselors now suggest that less and less men and women have the drive or desire to leave unhappy relationships and marriages because of financial loss. They have the notion that things may be worth salvaging despite infidelity, cruelty, or otherwise shady behaviour. And it isn’t worth the risk of losing their income, the attachment they have to their in-law family – or simply, they don’t want to break apart a life they’ve come to identify with. Psychology Today suggests “how happy each will be (post-relationship) depends on the emotional resources each person has.”

And what resources do you have? And what message are you sending to your partner?

You don’t speak to each other. And when you do – you fight. And you say to yourself: ‘We’ll get through this. We always do.’ A week goes by. And the most traction you’ve gained in means of a conversation is simply asking the other is ‘What’s for dinner?’ or ‘Did you pay the hydro bill?’ or ‘Can you get the kids off to school today?’

Let’s be clear. I’m not an advocate for a divorce. While I don’t buy into the adage that ‘love conquers all,’ I am a supporter of counseling, and constructive conversation that can ultimately save or salvage a relationship headed off the rails.

But: When you’ve exhausted all your emotional resources, and you’re still miserable, why are you staying?

I’ve said it before – the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the one you’ll have with yourself. And at what point are you being fair to you if you’re sacrificing your hopes, dreams, wants, desires – and your emotional self – to stick it in a relationship because you don’t feel you have the strength to leave? And what signal are you sending to your partner? If you keep staying and threatening to leave? Do you feel you’re doing him or her a service by pussy footing around the house, walking on eggshells so you don’t set the other off, while systemically destroying their character when you walk out the door and confide in your friends? Again – actions speak louder than words.

Maybe we should take a page from the book of these darn Millennials (said in my best ‘get off my lawn’ voice). Maybe we should be pickier. Maybe we should be syphoning down the resumes of potential suitors until one suits us best. Remaining in loveless, angry relationships simply because you don’t want to become a statistic, or you’re too afraid to kick it on your own, seems like a frivolous plot to prevent the inevitable.

Let the pendulum rest. Weigh the ‘for better’ against the ‘for worse.’ We only get one shot at this life. How long will you spend it unhappy? Advocate for change. Advocate for raw, real, and responsible conversations with your current partner.

And if we really do get out of this universe what we put in, how long will you keep giving before you realize how important it is to receive, as well?


~ Lilly ~



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