Sunday, 12 February 2017

The final straw

I'm always interested in what destroys a relation-ship, what drives people apart. Especially if couples have been together for decades and then suddenly, apparently right out of the blue, they're getting divorced and it's all over.

Usually they don't reveal the exact cause of the meltdown. Or only to their closest friends. They tell people vaguely that "it simply wasn't working any more" or "he just wasn't the same person". Strange habits and personal failings are hinted at but not spelt out. You can only guess at the straw that broke the camel's back.

I'm forever astonished at how long Jenny and I have been together. In some ways we're very different, and I'm amazed there's never been some fundamental clash that proved impossible to resolve. The usual clich├ęs about "loads of give and take" and "giving your partner plenty of space" don't go very far. The winning formula, whatever it is, is too complex to be summed up so neatly.

I think one reason we've stuck together is that somehow we've dodged all the big issues that tend to ambush other couples.

Like money. We're both sensible about spending and neither of us have expensive habits that soak up cash. We don't gamble, binge drink, buy flashy cars or go for £1,000 suits. Like affairs. We've never been tempted. Like children. We both agreed very early on that we didn't want them. Like sex. There's no nagging incompatibility. Like insecurity and jealousy. We're not threatened by the other's friendships or activities. Like bad communication. We're good at opening up and talking things through. And like mutual respect. Many couples break up because the man turns out to be an engrained misogynist, or the woman is nagging and controlling.

But that isn't the whole story either. Plenty of other things could have capsized us, could have driven a wedge between us. Somehow we've sidestepped them all. How lucky is that?

28 comments:

tammy j said...

that's extremely lucky.
but then perhaps luck had nothing to do with it? I really don't know.
I truly think there really ARE people we are meant to find and be with. and that 'finding them' might just be luck.
not to say you can't have a perfectly good marriage without that. but when you're lucky enough to find the one... then it becomes something really special.
I had it once too. and I still thank the stars or whatever made it happen.

Dave Martin said...

I suppose another reason would be boredom.
You have a strong relationship and that is something to be treasured. Not everyone is so lucky for all sorts of reasons that are not obvious to others, but as long as there's no abuse involved then it's not really anyone else's business.
Sometimes things that would normally destroy a relationship can be worked through if the couple still have the desire to do so.

Nick said...

Tammy: I think that's true, that there are people we're meant to find and be with. Unfortunately sometimes we meet them, but sometimes we never do and we spend our life fruitlessly searching.

Dave: Yes, plain boredom can be enough. Realising the other person simply doesn't have much imagination or curiosity or anything else. You just have nothing left to say to each other. But you're right, a relationship can often be revived if the couple are determined to work through difficulties rather than giving up in despair.

Anonymous said...

Comprehension, mutual respect, tenderness, good sex whatever it means for everyone, and laughing together.For me an opposite character to mine is very important, I would get bored very quickly if my husband would have the same opinions than mine. The fact that my husband is so different makes our relation so exciting and fulfilled. Hope it will last the whole life. (He can not live without the look of my green eyes...lol)
Mia More

Secret Agent Woman said...

Divorcing couples generally don't reveal the details of their divorce because it's no one else's fucking business. And people can grow apart without cheating, abuse, financial disagreements, or other fireworks. And sometimes, even without that, a relationship can't be revived. I try very hard to refrain from judging any one else's marriage and also know that what works for one couple doesn't necessarily work for another.

Ursula said...

I agree with Secret Agent.

There is that saying that each marriage has their own secret, impenetrable to an outsider. You might as well apply the same to a couple's parting of ways.

U

CheerfulMonk said...

For us parallel play is important. We do some things together and both have our own projects, too. We never get bored or have trouble finding things to talk about.

Nick said...

Mia: I agree, difference is healthy. Who would want a partner who simply echoes all your own opinions and tastes? What an awful thought! So now I know you have green eyes....

Agent: Hey, I didn't say people ought to reveal all the petty details, only that in general they preferred not to. And yes, I'm sure there are all sort of stumbling blocks other than the ones I mentioned. And yes also, what works for one couple may not work for another.

Nick said...

Ursula: Very true, each marriage has its secret and each divorce ditto. Some marriages actually seem to thrive on affairs, or jealousy, or endless bickering.

Jean: Agreed, if each partner has their own friends and interests, that enriches the relationship. Spending too much time with each other can sometimes be stultifying.

Anonymous said...

You forgot it. In your post about glamour, I wrote already about my green eyes and you asked for a pic. Lol
Mia More

Nick said...

Mia: So I did. You see what a terrible memory I have. I'll forget my own name next. You'll probably remind me again in a week or so....

Nick said...

Note to self: remember Mia's green eyes.

Bijoux said...

I'm just thankful for my own 33 year relationship. It's sort of a miracle!

Nick said...

Bijoux: That's terrific. Long may it continue!

helen devries said...

I wonder whether the late-in-life divorces come about when the working partner retires...
When Leo was working on the Stock Exchange the old boys dreaded retirement and having to be at home full time - they would have worked for nothing to be able to continue their routine.

Nick said...

Helen: A lot of men still seem to get their basic identity from work. So as you say, they dread retirement because they'll suddenly be nobody. But wouldn't this make them LESS likely to divorce because they're more dependent on their wives boosting their identity?

Wisewebwoman said...

I don't "do" the happy ever after relationship thing.I'm not built for it. Too independent in thinking and lifestyle. Though I have tried. ­čśŐHowever I'm in that odd situation where couples do confide in me and the truly incredible ones to me are the long terms where one partner is gay and the other isn't.
Loads of fodder for a book on this.

XO
WWW

John Gray said...

Thinking of my last " bad" relationship

The final straw? He ignoring me when visiting his father in hospital.....
That lack of respect was the last resort

Nick said...

www: Well, relationships are never really "happy ever after", are they? Jenny and I have had plenty of ups and downs. Sometimes we're wonderfully happy, sometimes we're totally pissed off. We all run the spectrum of emotions, don't we?

I don't understand how relationships like the one you mention can work. But as others have said, every relationship has its own secret and its own unique dynamic. Who can say one is better than another?

Nick said...

John: I'd be equally offended by that. Reminds me of a woman friend who invited me to the pub to celebrate my birthday, and then ignored me to chat to her other friends. I gave her the cold shoulder from then on.

Rummuser said...

My side of the family always thought that it was because I was a travelling sales person that my marriage lasted as long as it did - forty years though Urmeela's family thought that her profession kept her busy and away from scrapping with me! One can never tell what makes relationships last or break up. The best books cannot offer one solution for all problems that arise.

Nick said...

Ramana: Ha, absence makes the heart grow fonder! Yes, it probably helped that you were travelling a lot and weren't under Urmeela's feet too much! Nothing wrong with a bit of scrapping though, as long as there's not an edge to it.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

I'm delighted for you both and wish you many more years together. I do believe, though, that a lot of it has to do with just making your mind up to tough it out no matter what. And that's it. I'm with my husband 30 years now, married for 22. And the kids? They are a force which sometimes drives us apart yet they are also the glue which keeps us together. So I don't know.....

Nick said...

Maria: There's a lot of truth in that, toughing it out despite everything. Certainly there have been times when I've thought Jenny and I were heading for the buffers, but we persevered and things got better.

Hattie said...

My husband and I have been married for 52 years. We have children and grandchildren and have built a good life for ourselves.
A health crisis is bearable to me with my husband at my side.

Nick said...

Hattie: Yes, it must be a great comfort to have your husband beside you when you're facing a serious medical emergency.

Jenny Woolf said...

I suppose it is partly good luck, i.e. actually meeting the right person - and partly the many qualities you have listed above which certainly hit the nail on the head.

Nick said...

Jenny: Certainly it was pure luck that we had so many similar attitudes and habits. We might have found we were fighting each other over all those things!