“It just isn’t enough,” I told my wife. This was before we had really begun to contemplate marriage – marriage to a woman with three kids, me a ‘confirmed’ bachelor with a man-servant at my side. “It takes more than love to make a relationship work.”
She agreed somberly, head down. We had been talking about love and relationships for awhile, including hers to the man she had married and loved for ten – no, twelve? – years before. He had ended up betraying her (he thought he was going to die and wanted to go out with a last ‘hurrah!’ and a bang on the side, if you know whut I mean . . . wry smile).
“After all,” I continued (I’m the talker in the house most times), “You didn’t stick with him through thick and thin – you didn’t ‘make it’ all that time – with just love. It took more than that . . .”. I struggled to find the words I wanted to say.
“It takes commitment, a certain amount of self-responsibility,” I continued, feeling my way through this conversation as I so often did. “It takes trust . . .”.
At that latter her head shot up, eyes blazing. I knew I had touched upon a sore spot in her. Trust issues had broken her and her husband up – that and his violence – and hers, later on.
“Trust,” she said firmly, “Is one of the most important things to me. After he went screwing around on me . . .” Her lips tightened, firming. “I hated him for that thing. That and what he put those kids through.” By that she meant the living hell of him coming down and beating on their trailer at night, scaring them, and later coming into their own living room with a gun and a) threatening to shoot the eldest daughter if she tried to call anyone, and b) raping my soon-to-be wife in the bed. She left him shortly after that, packing their suitcases, getting in the car, and leaving his sick and sorry ass behind . . .
I agree with her. After what that man did . . .
But it takes more than love to make a relationship work. You can love one another and be bad for one another at the same time.
In a movie I heard a line that said:
“I may hate you more, but I’ll never love you any less.”
This was a woman talking to her husband who had done something selfish and wrong.
The fact is, it takes two responsible people to make a relationship work (sometimes). Sometimes one can be irresponsible for awhile, and the other one is able to take it, be responsible enough to recognize it as a human foible, a failing that matters not – because you love this ‘someone’. Sometimes it requires the both of you to stick to a household budget, ensuring the roof over your mutual heads (and children if you’ve got some). It takes agreeing to disagree sometimes and not get mad about it – or while you’re mad inside, still being responsible enough to take control of your emotions, shut the hell up, and give them a kiss instead.
That’s called “lovin'” in my book of relationships and life: walking up to the other person when you get made at them – and instantly trying to see things from their side (they just thought they were buying happiness of some kind – perhaps at your expense) – and giving them a big ol’ hug & kiss instead . . .
And then there’s the toxic relationships – the one’s that don’t work, but do . . . sort of. There’s the co-dependant relationships, the care-giver & care-taker ones, the ‘rescuers’ who, having rescued someone, can’t bear to be around them once that person (no longer dependent upon them) no longer needs their help . . .
There’s the “take all” ones and the “give all” ones and the ones where the fights seem to go on and on and on . . . where two spouses have given into the drifting entropy of their lives and let go, each one doing their own thing . . . until they finally drift so far apart they have nothing in common together anymore . . .
It takes a certain commitment to marriage – to see through these things, past these things, and the person you originally married – the one you fell in love with (no matter what the reasons) . . . giving up that hope for ‘life being different’ and working with the one you have – the one standing right in front of you sometimes, open arms out, looking confused and whatnot . . .
or the one shedding tears in the bed . . .
of the one stomping off to the garage to obstinately “do something” while drinking a beer instead (and fuming and looking out the window) . . .
Sometimes those are the times when one must remember and forget; when one must put aside one’s anger and reach out . . . going into that barn or bedroom or kitchen and putting your arms around them (even though your heart may not want to) . . . and forgiving.
Just my kinda view on things . . . me & the wife. And it has not only lasted over twenty five years – it’s improved.
Sometimes love ain’t enough . . . but it takes two to do it.