The unexpected tears threatened to stream down her face as she looked at me , “It’s not going to get any better, is it?” I got down to eye level trying to grab the hope that was leaving in her voice yet I gently stated, “ we want to have hope that it will get better, it may not.” We were having an event planning meeting but somehow the discussion stumbled into an emotional potluck because we all sensed that we needed to seek solace in each other’s experience at that time. I don’t remember if it started with me stating that I’d reluctantly walked away from my marriage in mid-July, or one of the women joking that we did not want to get into a contest about comparing our torn hearts battle stories. Either way, it ended with a number of questions about relationships, making them work, and the main conundrum –when is enough truly enough when it comes to being happy in a relationship or waiting for things to get better?
I’ve been interested in the dynamics of relationships for as long as I can remember. I always like hearing the stories of how a couple met, how they interact, or the unfortunate circumstances of a partnership ending. My curiosity might come from the fact that I was witness to snapshots of my parent’s 38-year unhealthy union enmeshed with physical/verbal fighting caused by many things that now seem miniscule. Oddly enough, they seemed to need each other in a way that I will never understand much like many couples who have been together for many years and seemed to navigate infidelity, dishonesty, and many other ingredients for a repeated broken heart.
This theme seemed to be present in my conversation yesterday as we pondered our unique yet similar situations in present/past relationships. Do you stay because this is as good as it gets? Or do you throw caution to the wind, regardless of kids or other factors, and walk away while you still have a possible chance to get the happy you deserve? This group of ladies and I did not come up with any answers and in fact, my conversation with one of the young women continued for some time after. How long is one supposed to wait it out for it to “get better”? What should be the last straw before you say ‘I am saving myself before this relationship depletes me’? And of course, the bigger question, what does being happy within a relationship look like? Are we being unrealistic and should we all, in fact, buckle up for the tears, disappointment and unhappiness? A gentleman I spoke to yesterday actually presented a perfect visual for the reason why he was continuing down his dangerous road toward a relationship, “It’s like the monkey bars, and you don’t want to let go unless you have the next bar to grab onto.” This may in fact be why many can’t let go mixed with the complication of other ties like children, finances, and/or investment of time or emotions that bind people in relationships. Then there are others of us, like myself, who walk away without having another “monkey bar” to grab. You might just discover that it is better to grab uncertainty and your happiness than to remain questioning if things will ever get better.