So, I just read this article on Divorce over on Huffpost, posted it and then had a delightful challenge from a friend to write something in response. So, here goes, but before I begin, let me make this perfectly clear that I am not against divorce. I simply don’t like it. I have seen the extreme damage that has resulted from divorces that have gone incredibly bad, and from ones that haven’t gone incredibly bad but still not good. There are the select few that I know of where the separation is completely amenable and is done in a very healthy way. These divorces though, the people in them, have gone through a lot to get to that point. I have a great deal of respect for the people involved and the hard work they went through. I also know of divorces of survival, where the signs below just don’t play into it at all, it’s simply about survival.
So, that having been said as a preface, here goes. Be patient with me friends, thank you.
Jennifer Oikle, Ph.D, wrote this post for Galtime.com and then Bridget Mallon reposted it to Huffpost Divorce. The post is on signs that it’s time to move on relationally. While I disagree with these blanket statements about committed relationships in general I absolutely disagree with them in the context of marriage/common-law relationships. And that is the perspective I will be offering here, as I was made aware of this post in the Huffpost Divorce section. Let it be known that these are my opinions and represent no one other than me. My darling wife may even disagree with me on some of these opinions, c’est la vie 😉
Sign 1: It Hurts More than it Feels Good
A happy, healthy love feels good most of the time. Sure, even good relationships include an argument every now and then, but if you feel sad, mad, or anxious more of the time than not, it’s a clear sign this isn’t the right relationship for you.
Or it’s a sign that whoever is feeling these things should get some help. There are a bevy of counselors and psychologists out there who can help people to address their issues around anxiety and mood problems. It could simply be a misunderstanding that has gone unchecked. Do the proper work before even thinking about calling it quits. Just because someone is mad, sad or anxious a lot doesn’t mean the relationship is the problem…it could just be a personal problem that person is working through! (work, diet, or an undiagnosed thyroid problem…Et-freakin’-cetera)
Sign 2: What You Used to Love is Now Annoying
Opposites attract and in the beginning, they can create hot chemistry. But over time, those differences can breed contempt. So at first, when your outgoing boyfriend was the life of the party, maybe your shy side felt alive, important, and sexy. … Once the sparks die down, if your fundamental personality differences become the source of constant conflict, realize it isn’t fair to ask either of you to change who you are. Move on to a better fit instead.
The problem I have with this is that anything can annoy anyone at anytime for any length of time. There is NO GUARANTEE that what one initially “loves” about a person will be what that person continues to “love” about them. A healthy relationship is all about change, personal change. I’m glad I’m not the same person I was when I first got married. I am honored that my wife loves me enough to call me on behaviors that irritate her. We talk, we communicate and we compromise which means that we BOTH change. I have this quote I got from a friend and it encourages me in the opposite of this “sign”:
The more connections you and your lover make, not just between your bodies, but between your minds, your hearts, and your souls, the more you will strengthen the fabric of your relationship, and the more real moments you will experience together.
~ Barbara de Angelis ~
Sign 3: You’d Rather Be Somewhere, Anywhere Else
At the start of a romance, you want to be together all of the time. You text and call constantly and spend every available moment together. While it’s normal for that to die down to allow back in your other interests, if you find you just feel apathetic about being together, avoiding his calls, or always scheduling some girl time instead, that’s a red flag alert. Apathy about your partner has an even worse prognosis than vicious fighting, because if you are bored and just don’t care anymore, it usually means your connection has run it’s course. Better to part as friends now.
Wow. Apathy about ones partner says more about the individual than it does about the relationship. If anyone finds themselves feeling apathetic about their partner (a word used to denote a serious commitment, not just someone you’re “dating”) then they need to look inside themselves and see what’s going on there. After a bit of self-examination THEN look at the relationship, it could simply be that one of you are experiencing a difficult time and you are choosing not to communicate that with your partner who really can’t help you if you aren’t communicating with them. One question, how long should one be aware of this apathy? Days, weeks, months, years?
Sign 4: You Keep Having the Same Old Fights
The mark of a relationship that works is being able to resolve conflicts to create a deeper connection. If you keep fighting over the same issues over and over, with very little progress, it’s a clue that a fundamental part of your personalities just isn’t the right match. You might as well admit that you don’t naturally meet each other’s needs and move on to a partner who doesn’t have to twist himself into a pretzel to be your dream guy.
I heartily agree and disagree at the same time. A good aspect of a healthy relationship is the ability to work through conflict to create deeper connections. However, a lot of what is being said here is, again, about YOU, the person experiencing this “sign”! It takes 2 to fight, and if the two of you aren’t able to resolve a conflict, the other person isn’t the only problem. It’s not a clue that a fundamental part of your personalities just aren’t the right match (blargh!), and don’t even come close to admitting that you two don’t naturally meet each other’s needs. If you two are arguing about the same old thing again and again, then GO TO A COUNSELOR or invite friends over that you trust. Talk to people. You’d be surprised how much it helps to talk with someone else about what’s going on in your relationship and then bringing that perspective back to the table.
Sign 5: You’ve Developed a Wandering Eye
When you’re really into a guy, you naturally only have eyes for him. It’s as if your guy-dar turns off and no other man exists in the world. If suddenly your barista is looking sexy, you’re making excuses to talk to the cute co-worker in the next cubicle, or you’ve accepted a lunch offer from your ex, chances are your heart has become curious about new possibilities.
Also YOU NO LONGER HAVE ANY SELF CONTROL AND NO ONE YOU EVER TALK TO WILL EVER BE SAFE! When someone is really into someone else, then they do only have eyes for them. That doesn’t mean one never looks at anyone else ever again. If the barista is looking sexy, acknowledge that and look away. Find a reason to focus on your partner again. If you’re making excuses to talk to other cute people then you need to examine yourself. It’s NOT your partners fault YOU are looking elsewhere…IT’S YOUR FAULT! Own up! Again, the more one makes an effort in connecting with one’s partner, finding ways to like what they like, the more they will only have eyes for them as more and more opportunities will be created for them to amaze you!
By paying attention to the most obvious signs that it’s time to move on, you can honor both yourself and your partner and give both of you the biggest gift of all: The freedom to find a love that’s meant to last.
By paying attention to the signs above everyone has a wonderful opportunity to engage in some much needed self-reflection. Just because your relationship may be on a plateau, or even on a down slope, doesn’t mean that you give up. And from what I read in the article this Ph.D person is simply giving people an excuse to leave if they find their current relationship inconvenient. And you know what, here’s something I have learned: relationships will always have their inconvenient moments! Bringing another person into our life and inviting them to be with us can be incredibly inconvenient. But you know what, it’s also the most beautiful thing in the world! I enjoyed my life as a single person, but I am enjoying my life even more now as a married man. Sure, there are times when things get more difficult that you could ever have imagined, but guess what, that has been happening to couples since the beginning of time so get over yourself. If anyone really believes that the above “signs” are reasons to quit, then they just need to own up to the fact that they don’t want to do the hard work of love. Am I ranting now? Sure, I am, a bit, but this article really got under my skin. And I had a few friends who commented on the article I posted saying that if they followed these “signs” they’d be divorced by now and I’d probably be too. The beautiful thing is that I DON’T FOR A SECOND BUY INTO THE BS IN THIS ARTICLE, and neither does my amazing wife!
Am I right? Who knows. These are my opinions and you can agree, disagree or disregard.