Love and/or Marriage  

rm_amator32 44M
8 posts
1/15/2006 8:51 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Love and/or Marriage

It's 11 a.m. on Sunday morning and I'm finally relaxing at home with some time to journal here a bit. Truth is, I have to get some things off my mind and onto these pages.

The last three or four days have been emotionally grueling for me. I've learned a lot about life, relationships and the delicate balance of sanity that all of us walks.

Without sharing too many details I will say that I spent 48+ hours with my former girlfriend, trying to talk some sense into her as she dealt with her involvement in a relationship with a married man. They felt they were soul mates and he was in the middle of making the decision whether to leave his wife and three young children. My ex didn't have any one else to turn to and she was in deep pain as she felt her future was hanging in the balance. Being at the height of this emotional crisis she was also not thinking rationally. She wanted to be with him and the cost in the lives of the others involved was something she was willing to accept. I know and have spent time with all of the parties involved and it was painful for me to witness the possible disintegration of a family and also the path of ruin that my ex girlfriend was stumbling down.

I didn't know what to do. I felt somewhat guilty because I knew that my ex had been very hurt by the breakup (5 months ago) and I suspected that she became involved in this at a time of weakness in her life.

She was in much deeper than she realized. They hadn't even had sex but they had become very emotionally entangled. Hearing about it was like reading a 19th century romance novel; lots of flowery language, passionate kisses and caring gestures. The sum of all this was that she felt totally in love and unwilling/unable to break it off.

I related that it was going to be virtually impossible for the relationship to work in the long term because of this messy start, and that following what she wanted would likely lead to pain for her and definitely to massive upheaval in at least a half dozen lives.

My parents divorced when I was six and so I have a pretty good idea of the hell that comes from growing up in broken homes. I tried to share this with her, explaining tearfully just how painful it was to be fought over as currency in an ongoing battle between my father and mother. In my case, my parents were not broken up by infidelity. In this situation, she would be hated by the ex-wife and loathed by the children as the source of their pain. This would continue for the rest of her life and I tried to convince her that she could much more easily get out, suffer some and then move on rather than spend the rest of her life regretting.

Even through all of this, she was willing to have others pay the cost so that she could pursue what she thought was the love of her life. While I disagreed, all I could do was listen and provide quiet interjections of guidance and support.

The situation was finally resolved when I got a teary call from my ex asking if I could come over and pick her up at her work. I arrived and she fell into my arms, sobbing. Her lover was returning to his family (thank God) and she was feeling the pain of another love lost. She's still suffering and I'm still trying to help her realize that this is the best thing that could have happened. Honestly, I can see that she's beginning to realize this fact. We're not getting back together, in case I'm wondering.

She asked me to take her cell phone and computer and clean off the messages. In so doing I've gotten a picture of what their relationship was like. The sad thing is that it was a beautiful friendship and a touching romance. There was so much affection, mutual caring and unrealized sexual longing between them. I was honestly a little envious as I believe they reached a level of connection that was deeper than we had realized, even though we were having sex. That is only one lesson to be learned from this: that sex is not the linchpin in a relationship. Infidelity is equally about emotional involvement.

I've learned a lot from this. I knew already just how painful divorce can be but seeing it from my close vantage point on the sidelines was sobering indeed. I'm saddened by the number of married people on this site who are playing around in search of something that they aren't getting in their marriages. I don't want to be sanctimonious but there is a tremendous cost in playing around like this. If there are children they will likely suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives. The other partner will suffer for years wondering about their inadequecies and the one doing the cheating will establish a pattern for the future.

There are examples of great relationships rising from the still burning ashes of another relationship. One that comes to mind is Johnny Cash. I think though that these must be the exception. More often, dissatisfaction in a relationship stems from unreal expectations of what marriage is.

angelgrrl 49F

1/15/2006 11:19 am

You don't sound sanctimonious, but you do sound young. I don't think people have unrealistic expectations of what marriage. People change, and often don't change together. I have seen friends crushed from emotional abuse finally gathering the strength to recognize the abuse. But even in marriages where there isn't abuse, often there comes a time where one or both partners are not getting their needs met -- physically, emotionally, sexually -- and no matter how much they talk about it, it doesn't get better. It may be temporary, but how many years do you give it before realizing that this emptiness is a permanent part of your life.

Yes, in an ideal world, we'd all stay madly in love, sexual attentive, maintain common goals and interests, continue to enjoy each other in most ways, etc. But it doesn't always happen. What has changed is women are no longer willing to compromise the way they used to have to compromise. So divorce rates have gone sky high, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Yes, when there are children, things are complicated, but if people here were looking to end their relationships rather than try and fill the gap in their lives, they would be single.

Some people would always mess around no matter how perfect their spouse is. Others, though, are genuinely suffering. And unless you've been there, you honestly cannot understand.

rm_amator32 44M

1/15/2006 2:23 pm

Thanks angelgrrl. I appreciate what you have to say. The thing is, I have been there. I was married once. My marriage was very good in so many ways. We shared common goals and interests, we were very playful together, we laughed and had lots of fun. Our sex life wasn't great however. She had an affair when we were dating and ever after we just never recaptured how things had been prior. It wasn't for lack of trying. I never lorded this over her and I can honestly say that it didn't take me that long to completely forgive and forget. We went to counselling and eventually the counselor gave us a clean bill of health and sent us on our way. Things were better but there was no spontenaity and she was rarely interested in sex. So, what did we do? We got married. I know, not the brightest thing. Luckily we didn't have children. I was dissapointed in our sex life but it came to the point where I couldn't remember clearly how it had been before. I did masturbate to release the sexual tension but I never messed around. Eventually we discovered that watching porn would get her interested in sex and so we grew our movie collection. This was fine in many ways but it was also sort of plastic and artificial way to make love, her looking around me/over me at the screen. This continued until she met someone new at work, had a torrid affair and left suddenly. Knowing how our sex life was I can hardly blame her I guess, but it wasn't a permanent fix for her. She's told me as much. She and her lover broke it off shortly after and we're now divorced. So, what was accomplished? Our family and friends were shocked and saddened by the demise of our relationship. My self-esteem took a major hit (which I'm still trying to recover from) and she didn't really solve her problem. I truly believe we could still be married and happy together. It's not what I want anymore, now the decision has already been made and is final, but I do believe that we could have made it through that period in our lives. So, a long way of saying that yes, I have been there.

To go back to the situation chronicled in my blog, it might have started out as an "innocent" exploration of something that the husband felt was missing. Unfortunately, once he sampled things he hadn't felt before (or thought he never had) he became willing to put his family through a lifetime of pain so that he could enjoy those things which, once the passion and newness cooled, might have eventually felt as stale as his existing situation. Of course he was going to be attracted to the new girl, at least a decade his junior and very fit, bright and attractive.

Here's my analogy. I have a very good car. It's really the best car I've ever owned. When I first got it, I literally could not wait for a reason to drive it somewhere. I washed it frequently, vacuumed it often and wiped down the dash to pick up the dust. Now it's been a year and a half. I still love my car but let's say I go in to the dealership and test drive the newer model with the faster engine, heated leather seats and sportier wheels. Suddenly, my car, good as it is and faithful as it has been, no longer looks so new to me. Many of the reasons it doesn't are directly related to how faithfully it has served me. The dirt on the carpet is from my shoes, the road grime is because it has protected me for thousands of miles on journeys to places I needed to go. To me, there are many obvious paralels in this analogy. If followed to its logical conclusion, it also raises the question of whether relationships should really be like cars, to be used until they don't run that well any more and then replaced with a newer model. Somehow I don't think this is right.

Maybe the real question here is whether human beings are designed for monogamy? I'm too tired to think deeply about that question right now. Whole books have been written on the subject anyway.

angelgrrl 49F

1/16/2006 8:28 am

Before I had children, I would have told anyone once you have children, your own personal happiness has to be secondary, all decisions have to be based on what is best for your children, and what is best for your children is to be a parent only. After having children, while I still believe that their welfare has to come first, I have learned that being a parent is only one part of myself, and the other parts are still very important.

You know the emptiess and pain of a passionless marriage. Since you didn't have children, divorce was the best answer for everyone. But after a couple has children, if the passion is gone, is it really better for the parents to live that pain year after year? Or would resentment build and come out in other ways? I now think being a good parent requires the parents to be happy, and sometimes that happiness will come from places that other people would think is wrong. Of course, going outside the marriage does not necessarily mean happiness will be found, but finding peace within often requires some sort of external validation.

I do find the story about your ex and her relationship touching. The man had to decide which was more important, his own happiness or the happiness of his children. He had the pain and emptiness before he met your ex -- he was able to fill that hole for awhile, but ultimately, he put his children's happiness above his own. There also is a huge element of fantasy in this type of relationship. But I'm not sure it's unhealthy. Painful, yes, but often the most worthwhile things are painful.

As far as whether people are wired for monogomy, I suspect not, but since our communities are both larger and more impersonal, and we don't care for people (their physical needs) outside our nuclear families for the most part, having a secure base is necessary, and for many, it's our spouse we know will take care of us (or who we'll end up taking of). And our culture expects spouses to be monogomous.

I wish I knew the answers

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