Thursday, 30 December 2010

Love derailed

I'm always fascinated by marriages that fall apart in a matter of months. How did this amorous couple become disillusioned with each other so quickly?

What did one of them find out about their partner that was so shocking, so disappointing, so repulsive that they just had to call it a day and walk out?

Sometimes you find out, sometimes you don't. Sometimes the aggrieved spouse is only too keen to dish the dirt on their other half and demolish their glossy image. Sometimes they're just too embarrassed to explain, too stunned by their own inability to see their partner's weaknesses before they tied the knot.

They may discover that Mr Right is a chronic womaniser, an alcoholic, a bully, or a closet gay. Ms Perfect may turn out to be a spendthrift, a neat freak, a self-pitying whinger, or a kleptomaniac.

Of course we all uncover unsavoury characteristics in our loved ones sooner or later. Nobody can keep up a phoney facade of rectitude forever, particularly if you're living with someone day in and day out. Eventually the cleverly-constructed mask will slip.

Most of these peculiarities we can adjust to as a minor aspect of our partner's rich and varied identity. But sometimes something emerges that is so alien, so extreme that we simply can't stomach it. Then the relationship dies overnight.

I scratch my head at the self-delusion of individuals who're well aware of some serious personal failing but get involved with someone else in the hope either that their unattractive defect will stay miraculously hidden or that the other person will be infinitely understanding and indulgent. Not surprisingly, their wishful thinking generally ends in tears, and the house of cards collapses in a startling heap.

38 comments:

nursemyra said...

I don't think anyone should get married until they've been with their partner for at least two years. What's the rush?

Roses said...

Perhaps they fell into the 'I'll change them' trap?

Dunno.

Sometimes it has seemed a few months in, they both knew it was a mistake but had to keep going for fear of failure. Sometimes it seems that unhappy marriages just keep going forever.

Relationships and marriage is hard work, whoever said different, lied.

Grannymar said...

A marriage is built on the strength of the two who build it. The commitment, the honesty and the trust that a lasting marriage requires must be given freely, wholly, and without reservation. Commitment cannot be demanded, respect cannot be forced, dedication cannot be faked, and trust cannot be taken.

The secret, as far as I am concerned, is to begin each day as if it were the first, but live it as if it were to be your last.

kylie said...

every one's story is different but if you want one i'll tell you

Leah said...

These comments are all so intelligent that I scarcely have anything to add! So well said.

I do sometimes muse on what Sarge could reveal after 20 years that would make me shriek, turn tail, and run for the hills. But that's kind of a fun imaginative exercise, you know? I mean, at this point, it would have to be something so extravagantly evil that it would be almost silly!

Leah said...

Kylie and I commented at the same moment! Hi Kylie!

kylie said...

hi leah!

spooky parallel universe!

Nick said...

Myra - Personally I see little point in marriage except for legal and inheritance reasons. I don't think it increases a couple's commitment to each other - either it's there or it isn't. Jenny and I only got married for legal reasons - her occupational pension could only go to her husband if she died. We had been happily cohabiting for 14 years before that.

Nick said...

Roses - I think you're right, a lot of people (especially women) are still confident they can purge those nasty tendencies. I think you're also right that couples keep going out of a sense of failure - and a fear of being on their own again. It takes a brave soul to shout disaster so quickly.

Grannymar - True, true and true again! Trust is so important. If you're suspicious of everything your partner says, it destroys the relationship in no time.

Nick said...

Kylie - Come on then, tell us a story!

Leah - I know what you mean. If Jenny were to list all my less appetising traits, the list would be a yard long. You can discover an awful lot in 29½ years! As you say, by now only something enormously and biliously evil would cause a fatal rift.

Nick said...

Kylie and Leah - I hope you didn't have a head-on collision as you returned from commenting. It can happen, you know. Why do you think bloggers suddenly disappear without a trace?

Scarlet Blue said...

I took off my heels [see previous post] and he realised I was a midget. So I got drunk and released my Lulu impersonation...
Little things but they all add up...
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet - A Lulu impersonation, OMG. I think that would be enough for an instant divorce, no amount of remorse could possibly make a difference.

Wisewebwoman said...

What's wrong with Lulu? :D
I think we project a lot onto partners, then the disillusionment sets in.
Often they can believe they are liberal or feminist and they turn out not to be.
For instance: one of mine acted and spoke like a feminist and then became outraged when his daughter in law, studying for a PhD in nuclear physics, refused to do the laundry for her family and insisted his out of work son did it (she was still doing all the cooking and cleaning house for their twin toddlers)
FAIL.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - True, it's easy to create rosy fantasies about your partner instead of seeing the more prosaic reality. And yes, there are an awful lot of men pretending to be feminist and radical while underneath it's misogyny as usual. I hope my own feminism isn't too phoney....

Baino said...

I'm not really a fan of Marriage at all I think it's an old fashioned concept frankly but I do believe that many women in particular feel that they can change annoying habits or traits in men. In trying to do so, it strains the relationship no matter how long the marriage. If he's not right, move on.

Nick said...

Baino - It's a very old-fashioned concept but surprisingly popular. Indeed, trying to change other people's engrained habits is a thankless task. All too often it just turns into relentless nagging on one side and defensive evasion on the other.

Arts web show said...

I dont think anyone should rush into marraige.
It's only really a symbolic or as said already legal thing.
Certainly, a mistake can be very costly but ultimately compromise between the two is the most important thing.
"take the rough with the smooth" springs to mind

e said...

I am the product of a failed marriage. It happened between two immature, inexperienced and therefore slightly deluded eighteen year olds, one of whom believed the other would change in the face of love. The other was a mean, skirt chasing prat who was dogged by another problem until he died...

I've really never wanted to marry though I could see it working for two compatible people who desired children.

Los Angelista said...

Well I'm sure that Hugh Hefner and his 60 years younger fiancee will prove us all wrong and last forever and ever. Right? ;)

Nick said...

Arts - Agreed, compromise is one of the secrets of a happy relationship. As long as the compromise doesn't mean the woman constantly compromising and the man ruling the roost....

e - Eighteen is very early to get into a close relationship with someone, there's so much still to learn about other people, and so much naivety and blind optimism leading us up cul-de-sacs. Mean, skirt-chasing prats are still all too common.

Liz - Absolutely, it's a marriage made in heaven. Not. No woman so young could possibly find the lecherous old geezer attractive, she has to be in it for the money or the fame.

Suburbia said...

I like the reason you married.

Happy New Year to you :-)

Nick said...

Suburbia - If it just took a bit of paperwork at the local Register Office to qualify for the cash, that seemed like a good move.

A Happy New Year to you and the youngsters and Significant Other!

Roses said...

I do belive in marriage. I think stating your commitment to each other, in front of friends and family is a wonderful thing.

My marriage didn't work out and I don't mourn it's passing. In fact, I was as glad to see the back of it as I was to see the back of 2010.

Nick said...

Roses - If people think that public commitment is important, and many do, that's fine by me. But Jenny and I are happy that we have that commitment to each other anyway.

Good that you don't have any lingering ambivalence about your marriage but are sure it was a big mistake. That obviously makes it easier to move on.

Roses said...

One of the good things living in the period of time that we do, is that the shape of a relationship is dictated by the two people involved. It's what works best. After all, I know of married people who keep two different houses in the same city. It's whatever works.

As for my marriage...I can't ever say it was a mistake. I have my Boy and I can't ever begin to say how much he means to me. But I'm glad the marriage is over.

No, there's nothing ambiguous how I feel about it.

Nick said...

Roses - True, relationships can take many different forms depending on the couple's inclinations. There's no perfect stereotype that suits everyone.

No, obviously not a mistake in terms of having Boy. Even bad relationships can have some positive outcomes.

secret agent woman said...

My ex and I decided to get married after we'd been dating 10 weeks. Although it was hardly a fly-by-night marriage since we were together twenty years. But for brief marriages, what I've seen in my work is either a hope that the person will change (I cringe when someone tells me their boyfriend would hit her while they were dating and she married him anyway) and thus help the person work through having been parented by a dysfunctional person, or the spouse to be makes a dramatic shift in their behavior only after the vows are taken. I've had many women tell me that you couldn't have asked for a more considerate partner until a few weeks to a few months after the wedding - and then suddenly the person morphs into the addict/abuser/slacker or whatever that he was keeping carefully hidden. I hear this story less from men, although I'm sure it can happen in that direction, too.

Nick said...

Secret Agent - I've heard those stories so many times: both the conviction that someone can alter their partner's behaviour and a sudden personality change after the marriage. And I think you're also right that men are more likely to be a Jekyll and Hyde than women.

Macy said...

Ah Nick - too many of us still have some vestiges of fairy tale nonsense floating about in our heads. The old "happy ever after" nonsense. I deluded myself spectacularly about a truly inadequate being for yers, mainly on the grounds that as he was a psycholoogist, he can't be that bad really.
He is.
At least I didn't marry him!

Nick said...

Macy - True, people still believe the happy-ever-after stuff and refuse to accept that a nasty divorce is equally possible. Yes, we tend to think a psychologist must be a mature, civilised human being but they have their Achilles Heels as well.

Hullaballoo said...

Marriage is such a big step and I am glad that I did it. I am not sure everyone takes the time to consider their hidden motives when marrying though.

Nick said...

Hullaballoo - Yes, there are usually hidden motives of some kind, underneath all the romantic gush. Some men are just desperate for a substitute mummy to wash their dirty socks and keep the fridge well-stocked.

Megan said...

I want to know Kylie's story.

Nick said...

Ah, you'll have to ask Kylie. She told me privately on Facebook but my lips are sealed.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Perhaps couples could take a bit more time before tying the knot to ensure, as much as possible, that they actually know what they are getting into.

Nick said...

Heart - Yes, and also that they're genuinely compatible with each other and not just looking at each other through rose-tinted specs.

Nick said...

Ramana - When I googled your link, it seemed be spam so I deleted it.