When Love Becomes a Beast With Teeth
The Probable Failure of Your Marriage
When you go through a break-up (that was not your choice), you will experience a wide range of emotions (sometimes in contradiction with each other).
Having someone dump you unexpectedly and/or without reason, is really, really painful and disillusioning. Don't try to avoid the pain. You can't. My first wife dumped me because she had consulted an astrologist who declared we were on opposite ends of the zodiac chart (Ares and Libra) and there was no hope for a happy union. Since she had no actual religion, she took this to heart and initiated the formal divorce proceedings. I was blown away.
A few weeks after the break-up, my ex phoned me to say that my belongings in her apartment were depressing her and that if I didn't get them out within a week, she would be placing them on the sidewalk. That conversation did nothing to lighten my mood.
For a good year afterward, my emotions ran hot, but with a tremendous undercurrent of sadness.
I waited a good eight years before taking my second plunge -- from which I felt no choice, as my girlfriend was already pregnant. We seemed to get along okay, so I took the vows a second time.
That marriage didn't last much longer than the first, and I turned to booze. Not long after that my mother died, and I went into a stupor.
Sometimes we can gain the upper-hand on a personal crises ... sometimes we can't. Life does with us whatever it wants. Only a fool will believe that we can always triumph over the fates. But the strength of will is not to be minimized.
Once you get past the one-year mark, you should be doing better psychologically. You should be better able to see the break-up in a more emotionally detached context.
Some people will bounce back within a short time frame. Others will need years of recuperation.
Fragments of advice for anyone contemplating taking the big plunge.
- Live with the person you are contemplating for at least one year (preferably two). If she says she cannot do this on moral grounds, bail out. She is more concerned about the pageantry of the ceremony than a real commitment.
- Do not dismiss what you pass off as small irritations. For instance, if your bride to be is a smoker, and you aren't, this is going to create a bigger confrontation than you imagine.
- Try to keep an open mind to the reactions and opinions of friends and relatives. If they feel rather lukewarm to your cherished one, they are probably observing things that you are too biased to see yourself.
- If you are 21 years old and this is your first love, take it for granted that you are wandering into a mine field.
- If you have moments of grave doubts about what you're doing, don't dismiss them.
- Although it's impossible really, try to imagine you and your beloved going through times of real struggle (illness, old age, etc.)
- Do a self examination and ask yourself "Am I getting married because this is the first girl who really seemed to want me?" What you cannot imagine in your early twenties is that you have all of your thirties and forties to play the field and cut no compromises.
- If you have agreed to a marriage but later have second thoughts, don't hesitate to pull the plug.
- If your loved one places a precondition on you (e.g., no sex, no living together) unless we are wed, regard that as a red flag.
- You may have deep feelings (even love) toward your other, but try to separate the friendship, sexual aspects from a relationship that can weather all storms.
- If your family is opposed to the marriage, do not discount their reaction immediately. Their non-support may be a way of trying to protect you. Don't proceed just for the sake of defying the opinions of your family.
- Try to observe carefully how your beloved interacts with her family.
- Try to be objective about the time you spend together. If you are a fan of Beethoven and Mahler, and she subjects you to Billy King or Jackson Brown, don't allow the disparity just pass you by.
- Attempt to remember that there is no stop watch involved in this process. You may feel the need to consummate the marriage asap to ensure that your significant other is not going to ditch you, but if you are even having such thoughts, put on the breaks. Try to realize how young you are and how many years are still ahead.
- If all you receive is cautionary advice (such as this), and it's making you sick, just go with your gut. You may end up making a huge mistake, but you are allowed to do this. You will be creating your own self-lesson. You'll be learning the hard way, but you'll survive. Just bear in mind that those who seem derogatory are trying to spare you probable heartache. Sometimes it's just impossible to avoid.