It’s amusing how often the loudest opponents of marriage, those criticizing lifelong matrimony as an unnatural religious imposition, point to the sex lives of prairie voles and your dog as rationale for why.
I have a cousin who believes it’s his inalienable right to pilfer any unprotected cell phone and using the closest social media app wreak havoc in the owner’s life. He once announced his sister’s pregnancy on her Facebook feed. She spent the remainder of the week assuring friends that middle-aged women aren’t nearly so fertile.
There’s no such thing as a ‘relationship problem’. A romantic relationship, and even a marriage, at its most fundamental and technical, represents the agreement of two people with common goals. Two individuals agreeing informally or formally to ‘do life’ together. But that arrangement isn’t organic; it doesn’t get sick, suffer PMS, or endure mood swings. A relationship won’t argue when you leave the toilet seat up or throw a fit for spending too much at ULTA. Relationships aren’t alive; the people in them are. So why do we insist otherwise?
Divorce should take us on a journey, one that leads us, in time, through the Valley of Introspection. Arriving there, we should begin looking at ourselves critically and asking hard questions, ‘How did I come to this?, ‘What am I learning from it all?’ ‘Where can I grow?’ Those who abandon this uncomfortable soul-searching and miss out on the lessons learned invariably bring those same bad habits and behaviors, and by consequence the same bad results, into all future relationships. We can’t fix what we don’t know – or won’t admit – is wrong. Is it any wonder second marriages fail at a higher rate than first marriages?
The pitfalls of dating as divorced parents are well documented. But how to date as a one is regularly ignored. We get so caught up in attempting to find the who, looking for the right mix of partner AND parent, that we may become drunk on romantic bliss when we find him or her, forgetting that how we should date this person is no less important.
It’s ridiculous at how little I once knew about relationships. Aside from one brief and very embarrassing sex monologue by my mother, neither she nor my dad ever talked about the art of relationships or how they make a thirty-year marriage work. They didn’t share tips on how best to argue and why it’s better not to go to bed angry; that beauty is temporary and money won’t solve any of your problems.