I was at my wits end! My husband and I had had one of those epic arguments where we totally lost focus mid-disagreement and suddenly reverted back to adolescents. We were no longer attacking the issue but rather, each other’s character. It didn’t take us long to annihilate each other with our cut throat, dagger through the heart kind of words. We each walked away feeling entirely defeated, deflated of hope, and wounded. What I needed was a good friend’s shoulder to cry on, help mend my wounds, and offer some sound advice on my journey back to adulthood. What I received ended up being much the opposite, in fact I would say it is probably the WORST marriage advice I have ever received!
I managed to resuscitate my broken soul and dragged my shell of a body to a local coffee shop to meet up with that friend who was supposed to be my shoulder to crying on, my wisdom whisperer…my saving grace during my time of need. We greeted each other with a silent comforting glance, each ordered and received our coffees, found a quaint spot to sit, and exchanged mild pleasantries before delving into my quarry of woes. I must admit it was refreshing getting outside of my self-deprecating thoughts for a while and listening to the latest endeavors in her life. It turned out that she had just started a new fitness routine and totally hated it initially, but liked the results she was seeing. As I sat across from her I couldn’t help but to think I was the most self-absorbed person in the world, I was so focused on me, my issues, that I didn’t even notice or acknowledge how great she was looking. I quickly verbalized my thought; she thanked me for noticing, and then we dived right into that pit of deep dark water where my heart currently resided, just barely staying afloat.
I shared with her the horrible fight my husband and I had, the hurtful words we uttered, and how it just left me feeling miserable. Her response, advice, words of wisdom that I so desperately seek was anything but. What I wanted was a life saver, a preserver to pull me up, out of the deep dark waters, and what I received was an anchor, an anchor that would not only leave me motionless but send me deeper into the abyss. Her advice was, “If you aren’t happy you should leave…you deserve to be happy”. I sat there for a moment dumbfounded. Was she serious? Was this advice coming from the same person who just said how much she hated her new fitness routine but stuck with it and loves the results?
“If you aren’t happy you should leave…you deserve to be happy”
If I took her philosophy on marriage and applied it to other things in life I fear I would end up entirely alone, unhealthy, perhaps even in jail, prison, or dead. There are so many thing in life that don’t necessary make me happy, for example, eating broccoli doesn’t make me happy, obeying the speed limit doesn’t make me happy, doing the laundry doesn’t make me happy, and I could go on for days. Though it does not bring me instant gratification or happiness I eat broccoli for my health, I obey the speed limit in order to stay safe and not cause harm to myself, passengers, or other drivers, I do the laundry because I don’t want my family to have to walk around with dirty clothes on, and I stay married because despite these arguments that can escalate, that seem like the end of the world in the moment are actually mere drops of water in the ocean that is marriage. I stay married through those moments of unhappiness because marriage and life are not all about us being happy all the time…..for without some suffering we would never know the value of happiness?
“Without some suffering how would we ever know the value of happiness?”
After coffee I knew what I had to do and trust me, it was the last thing my stubborn, proud ego wanted to do! But I did it anyway! I needed to reflect on my part of the argument, take responsibility, ownership for my “dagger” words. I needed to apologize for my actions and words and to forgive my husband for his.
“Do it Anyway”
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta
After coffee I also learned a very valuable life lesson, be cautious whose advice you heed. Though friends might have the best intentions at heart it is important to remember that each of our souls takes the spiritual journey at its own pace.
And sometimes, though circumstances may appear one way the outcome may be quite different. For I met for coffee in order to receive comfort from a friend and what ended up happening was I was the comforter, the sounding board for my friend, her wisdom whisperer. She wasn’t happy in her marriage; she contemplated leaving, guess what? She admitted her advice was the worst; they have worked things through and continue to do so in order to live happily ever after. (Wink, wink)
If you or someone you know is contemplating a separation this resource was one my friend came across that was informative:
Overview: A large majority of individuals in unhappy marriages who hang in there and avoid divorce end up reporting their marriages are very happy a few years later. For the most part, those who divorced and even those who divorced and remarried were not happier than those who stuck with their marriages. http://www.divorce.usu.edu/htm/about-the-program