I hate the idea of ‘love conquers all’. At best, it's a misrepresentation of what to expect in a relationship. And worst, it is a dangerous reason that keeps people in toxic relationships.
When people say love conquers all, they have presented the idea if you love someone enough, you can survive any situation that happens in that relationship. And while I believe in the power of making it work, if the work is one-sided and shared, or unreciprocated, love definitely cannot conquer all.
And the dangerous part? ‘If you really love that person, you would stay’ — that mentality and keeps people in abusive relationships. Of course, it's more complicated than that. But we spend a lot of time making people invest in relationships, where they are not invested in themselves.
What I mean to say is there's nobody investing in them, and nobody else invested in that relationship.
When I was married the first time, my ex-husband was really great at doing laundry and doing dishes. And not so great with the whole keeping the house clean or raising the kids, but I digress. Or do I?
The problem, of course, was that when I brought up that he was not meeting my needs. And I'm not talking sexually, though, if you followed me on Xanga, you knew that that was an issue. But more so that we didn't have a relationship anymore.
We were basically roommates who created two children and existed in two separate bubbles that rarely touched. He would tell me that I was so ungrateful, that I wasn't needy but wanty because I wanted his time and his presence. That my friends would be grateful to have someone who did the laundry, the yard work, and the dishes. Why wasn't that enough? Why was I always pushing for intimacy?
I tried to explain to him that yes, it was partially about the sex, but it was more about his inability to want to be with me, like just sitting and watching TV shows, going to see a movie or taking me out to dinner on non-anniversary.
He compensated by buying things for me, or eventually opening up our marriage, so that the ‘intimacy’ that I was lacking could be fulfilled by someone else, so he didn't have to do it. Which, of course, was part of the problem. And when I finally decided to leave, he didn't want to keep me because he wanted me. He wanted to keep me, because it would preserve the image that he presented to the rest of the world.
My loving him conquered nothing. Loving him gave me my two amazing children, but I put in significant effort. I went to therapy. (He refused to go to therapy, until the very end, when he was trying to keep me. When he went to my therapist to get him to convince me to stay, my therapist called me in and was like, “No, you need to go.”)
And it was frustrating, because my parents were like, you know, he went to Iraq and you don't understand… I was like, but I do understand, but he was like this before Iraq and he refuses to work on it.
When I told him I wanted a divorce, he ignored me for a month. And then we fought for the next two months. And I was like, when did he intend for us to work on us? He said after the kids were out of the house, and I said, so another decade, another decade of me feeling like I was this ugly she-beast, who had to navigate one-night stands because he, the man that I married, didn't want to do anything with me.
Now, conversely, my current husband is pretty much the opposite of that. And we have been through some things, where our love for each other was a mitigating factor in us staying together, it was not the only factor. We did the work to stay together.
And it was not pretty. It was ugly, often, but we figured it out for the very most part. (I mean, we're still human.) It wasn't that I love him or that he loves me. It was that we loved each other enough to work together to stay together, which was sorely missing from my first relationship and most of my relationships before this one.
I get really cranky when I hear people say, well, if you love them, you'll stay together, and you can get this sorted out without the understanding that it requires two people to figure this shit out. You can love someone and understand that they are not good for you.
I didn't leave because I didn't love him. I left because he didn't love me. And so, that's what I leave you with:
If you feel like you are carrying the relationship, and the other person refuses to do the work or doesn't see that there's work that needs to be done. It is okay to not stay.
This so spot on. Thank you for sharing..