I have a friend, we’ll call him Buster, who’s in a marriage most people might refer to as “shitty.” He’s got the bitter wife, the resentful kid, the budding alcohol problem, whole nine yards. Buster caters to his woman’s every wacky whim and exhausts himself trying to put himself in her dainty shoes to empathize and bridge the divide. For Buster, saving his marriage has become a second job.
Those of us who are his friends have mostly been in the “dude, cut your losses” camp. When a good pal finds more comfort in Jose Cuervo than his wife, not a lot of folks pitch their tent at Camp Hang in There.
The recurring sentiment amongst Buster’s pals when we sit around talking about him is that he’s staying in the marriage because he doesn’t want to be alone. Apparently nothing is more offensive to the average American than someone else’s fear of being alone. I know lots of unhappy couples whose inner circle whispers about how their pansy asses stay together just to avoid ending up solo. As if remaining single is a courageous act on par with traversing the surface of the moon.
However, I think I’m abandoning Camp Cut Your Losses.
Ever been alone for longer than, say, two years? I have and I can tell you. It blows. No one wants to be alone. What person prefers sleeping in a cold bed to snuggling up against a warm body? Isn’t talking to your best friend better than talking to yourself? Doesn’t life feel more consequential when someone else is watching you live it? Knowing your mere existence plops another human being onto cloud nine? That’s pretty rad. And who wants to be on his death bed with some nurse he’s never met holding his hand as he transitions to the sweet hereafter? I can’t think of a better incentive to work your tail off in relationships than to avoid being alone.
What are ugly are those relationships where folks have stopped trying. Dead romances where people who used to love each other go through the motions of loving like state employees nearing retirement. Should those people bail or just start noticing each other again?
Certainly, some circumstances call for hightailing it out of a relationship. Like if your partner comes to you one day saying, “Wowza! Two free tickets to the next Tea Party rally!” Walk away. This can’t be salvaged. Otherwise, maybe put in the time.
Buster has a family and a woman who has known him for ages. These are the building blocks for the one thing everyone wants most in life: forever. Buster wants to grow old with someone and have his kids at his bedside when he kicks it. He wants a satisfying relationship and contented family, and so will do what he must to make it happen. He may also love his wife even if the rest of us think she’s Cruella DeVille.
There may come a time when Buster’s marriage should officially be pronounced dead and both parties should save themselves from being buried with it. Until then, ain’t no shame in working toward forever.
[Photo of this completely awesome panda from rootsgpk.blogspot.com]