On Relationships

There is something to be said about romantic relationships in this world, or at least in America, and that is that they are extremely flawed. Everyone has a desire to love and be loved, and to have someone special who will be by their side and support them forever. This causes an intense drive to find The One, the soulmate, and to lock in their resolve and their belief in their love for one another by committing to one of the most hastily chosen actions in the world: marriage.

As evidenced by the massive divorce rate, as well as the number of existing but unhealthy marriages, the majority of marriages are actually mistakes. (That is to say at least 51%. I make no claims to any specific figure.)

This is where the hardcore believers in marriage are going to immediately argue with me. You might think that a lot of divorcees are just too weak or too selfish to put the work into the relationship to make it work, but that doesn’t make me wrong; their marriage was still a mistake.

If anyone decides to sever a marriage because they’re unhappy with their spouse and can’t or don’t want to make it work, the marriage was a mistake. It doesn’t matter if they can make it work out if they tried; if they don’t have the interest to do so, it would be disingenuous to keep it up just to make others happy by not getting a divorce. Some people even genuinely think that divorce should be illegal. A couple of reasons can be given for this; one is to make people see that marriage is not to be taken lightly, since there is no way out; another would be to encourage people to give it another try, which they obviously would since they have no options, as they are now in a state-enforced marriage from which they cannot escape except by adultery (if the law offers such a provision) or death. There is almost no way for this to be a healthy, happy relationship. It will, at best, be a tense, begrudging illusion of happiness. I’d wager that the rate of spousal murders would increase as well.

The simple truth is that if either married party decides that they would rather terminate the marriage than live with their spouse any longer, it is obvious that the marriage was a mistake.

This usually comes down to a single, simple truth. Barring mental breakdown, insanity, or brain damage fundamentally changing who the person is, the two parties, in all likelihood, just didn’t know one another well enough when they committed to marriage.

That is, of course, the purpose of the courtship period: to get to know one another. But just as people are too hasty to name people their friends, they are too hasty to call their feelings of attraction and infatuation “love”. The entire courtship period is based not only on determining if you want to spend the rest of your life with this person, but also on convincing her that she also wants to spend the rest of her life with you. Without knowing it, many (I dare say most) men will put up facades to appear more appealing to her, and put more effort into things just to win her heart (and vice versa – I’m making no presumptions on gender, just making my pronouns easier.) That’s basic insecurity, and the fundamental flaw in most flawed relationships.

However, what happens when he is comfortable and secure in his standing with her; no longer feels that he has to make her like him? He stops putting up these facades; stops enhancing the truth and being somebody above his real self. He returns to who he is for real, and then, suddenly, the “spark isn’t there anymore.” Unfortunately, this occurs all too often after marriage, and he is now someone different from whom she married; not unrecognizably so, but uncomfortably distant from who he was then.

Even worse than the illusion he creates about himself is when he projects his own fantasy onto her and pretends that she is someone that she is not and doesn’t even pretend to be. On the extreme end of the spectrum, he may choose to be “friends with benefits,” hoping that this girl to whom he is attracted (which can and will only be intensified by frequent sex) will eventually relent and turn this purely physical relationship into a romantic relationship, only to have his heart broken when she finds a guy she actually likes and isn’t just using to fulfill her physical needs. That’s simply trying to get blood from a stone. I’m straying from the subject though, because that never was and never will be a real romantic relationship.

This is where abstinence before marriage appears to be a good idea. Sex often has the power to intensify attraction and therefore encourage false feelings of love and compatibility. This just glazes over a poor personal relationship. A couple must feel joy in their non-physical interactions, otherwise they just have a poor facsimile of love that only looks like it because people who aren’t in love usually don’t have sex.

But really, abstinence is a non-solution because it’s handled so poorly. More often than not, it is a mandate rather than a personal choice. In that case, it’s not unlikely for a couple to marry after six months simply because they’re approaching the end of the early-relationship-euphoria period and now feel that they need to “progress” to the physical portion of their relationship. They then get married, have a lot of sex, start to realize they aren’t who they thought they were when they married, try to bridge that impossible chasm with a lot more sex, then they burn out and get a divorce because they were never actually compatible anyway.

Honesty is the only thing that can make a relationship successful. Facades, illusions, and fantasies will crumble and you will be left, not the Wizard, but the man behind the curtain, defrauding the person who should be most important in your life.

Always be real, and always be yourself. Always expect others to be real, and always expect others to be themselves. The rest will come naturally.

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