I’m one of the many divorced men today, and I have been honest enough to recognize, and admit to, the mistakes I made. Thank God. The one fundamental thing I’ve learnt about being in a serious relationship, married or otherwise, is to never take anything for granted. I’ve learnt that, no matter how much in love, or how perfect it might seem, or how permanent, it can all come to an end.
I am fifty now, Met Sue at nineteen, was married to her at twenty-two, separated at thirty-two, divorced at thirty-four. Being with her was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve broken twenty-three bones, and nearly died twice, in two bad motorcycle accidents, but neither came close to losing Sue. The moment she said “I’m leaving you” will remain as an echo in my mind for all time.
So why did it happen? I was careless, in an innocent enough way. My generation, (and maybe it still prevails now, I don’t know), believed that when you married, it was somehow a guarantee of permanence. Big Mistake! I believed it; that, no matter what, we would always be together.
I/ (we) had slogged at doing up our home, for four years, pretty much without a break, and at my own insistence that it was done properly, not Sue’s. That was my fault entirely, and life had got pretty bleak. We weren’t having a lot of fun, because I was worn out with it all, was depressed towards the end, and always in a temper with things when they went wrong, which was often! It was a miserable time towards the end.
She was unhappy too, and so had an affair with a really fun guy, The Slog. She was gone one lovely sunny morning. Just like that, it was over. By the time she acted, it was way beyond me. I can remember the shock of that, how fast and final it was, like a bad Motorcycle accident. For the first time in my life, I realized you couldn’t always put things right; that some things stayed broken when you dropped them. That this could’ve been avoided, had I not been so stupid, and selfish.
She wasn’t nasty about it, and didn’t crucify me with the practical settlements of the divorce; she was far too nice, and fair, a true woman indeed. I will always be in her debt for that. Had I realized that it could break, I would, I hope, have eased up; looked to what she was going through, rather than being so focused on my own frustrations, and realized that her lack of complaining was her good nature, and not that she wasn’t suffering too.
So, my advice to you? Look at the fact, (and it is a fact), that marriage isn’t the same as a concrete guarantee, not by a long chalk. Genuinely look after each other, work hard at understanding each other, and realize that men and women are different. We see, feel, and react differently, and there are genetic reasons why. Don’t be fooled into mistakes by this politically deceptive world we live in these days. Realize that, understand and act accordingly in sympathy, and you just might be one of the lucky ones that make it to old age together.
I understood Sue after she was gone. Don’t do the same.
Time and again, it has been said that Men can’t iron, and Women can’t read maps. Don’t sneer at it, but take some time to absorb that. There’s a lot of good sense in it, and it’ll help you understand how your partner’s mind works. Never stop trying to figure the rest out for yourself.
Always admit when you are in the wrong, too, and never be slow to put it right. Never take a bad feeling to bed either, and so, wind up going to sleep back-to-back in a huff. All it takes is for one to reach out to touch the other. Do it. It’s never the wrong thing to do.
What else? I’d say don’t think the grass is greener somewhere else, because, unless your marriage has gone really bad, it probably isn’t. At the end of the day, grass is still grass. The best you can do is look after the bit you’re walking on before you abandon it for pastures new. It does take two to look after it though, and if you can’t pull together, then you’re in Big Trouble.
I wasn’t a complete prat, and was a good husband in some ways. I looked after her, fixed everything that went wrong (but with a lot of cussing and swearing, it has to be said!), was honest, affectionate, loving, and attentive. Sue never knew going to sleep or waking up, unloved. I will say that for myself. She always knew how much I loved her, and that made it really hard for her to leave. She was a good, very kind woman, and she knew it would crucify me.
She wasn’t wrong, either.
The only thing you can’t do a whole lot about is relying on “Luck” or Fate, or whatever you want to call it….. But you can sure swing it your way.
Here’s something to get you inspired… I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of Dr. Phil and his successful marriage to Robin.
Dr. Phil McGraw urges millions of people to “get real” with their lives, to create a more positive behavior.
His nationally syndicated talk show, “Dr. Phil”, premiered on live TV on September 16th, 2002. The hit series comes from Dr. Phil’s 30 years of experience in psychology and the way humans function, their quirks, and complexities. Dr. Phil combines entertainment, humor, enlightenment along with his head-on signature, telling it like it is.
He deals with real-life issues from teens on drugs, weight loss, families in crisis, couples headed for divorce, to kids gone wild. He’s heard regularly demanding of the guests on his show, “What were you thinkin’?” In short, “He’s like your mama, without hair,” as fellow psychologist Robert Butterworth told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ever hear the saying, behind every great man, is a great woman? It’s no less true in this case.
Robin is a bright spot in Phil’s life. She had grown up in a home where women were respected, honored and loved. And she was quick to inform her husband, she would expect no less! When asked of Dr. Phil, if he felt he had to live up to a perfect marriage because of his image, he said he felt no pressure, but when on to add, “My wife is an amazing woman. We have a great marriage because she won’t have it any other way.”
Dr. Phil describes a happy, working marriage as, “A relationship in which two healthy people come together because they complement each other. They’re on equal footing, respecting themselves and each other. What most people don’t get is that you can’t give away what you don’t have. If you don’t regard yourself with respect and love, you can’t give those things to someone else. When I see people who can’t love and care and feel and share in a relationship, I can guarantee you that they are disconnected from themselves.”
Dr. Phil is met at the door each day with a smile from his wife and a glass of iced tea. She urges him regularly to take a break and go play golf or tennis. She says she wants him to do this- she gets a much happier, less stressed out husband at home. Good advice to us wives?
She makes a point to accompany her husband to each and every one hour show, offering her support when needed, quietly observing amongst the audience. As the show winds to a close and Dr. Phil walks off the stage, I think it’s so sweet to see her rise from her seat, take his hand and give him an encouraging smile, remarking on the tender scene they’d just left or praising him for his head-on wisdom as he dealt his difficult guests.
It’s easy to see how in love the couple is. Dr. Phil often says she is the love of his life. She helps keep the family as close-knit as they are. He also remarks that she is the best cook in the world.
Dr. Phil was once asked, “If the love is in a marriage, but the children are demanding, there are very long hours at work and on top of everything, a mother-in-law who is ill and needs lots of attention, what if you’re just too exhausted to have sex?”
“Let me ask you-If you planted a garden in the backyard and all those things happened — kids, long hours, jobs, sick mother — and you never went out and tended the garden, what do you think it would look like?”
Point taken, Dr. Phil–We as men must take the time to cherish and care for our wives on a regular basis- just as if we were tending a beautiful garden. And in a sense, marriage is like a garden. It takes time, patience and love.
Dr. Phil and Robin have shown us these timely qualities… in their own marriage.