Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The First Law of Emotion

My divorce came through a week or so ago and I have been asked how that makes me feel. Truth is the marriage was over a long time ago, it was just that neither of us recognized it at the time. But when I sit down and look back there were a lot of obvious signs and if I’d read them early enough who knows what may have happened. I think one way or the other things would have come to a head far earlier rather than having been allowed to drift, because by that point the damage was too deep for me to do anything about it. When I finally found the courage to leave, I did all that I could to protect my ex from any damage to the point where my own relationships with family and people who I called friends was damaged, again maybe to the point of no return.
But if people read this blog front to back I hope you will find that I sheet no blame on anyone other than myself. And let me state right now that I am in a relationship that gives me more than I had in a long time and my ex would no doubt say the same about the one she is now in.   And that maybe says more about how things were than anything else I could say.

So I have wondered if there is any point at all in raising what went wrong.   If this blog does have any value beyond the personal satisfaction I find in writing, I think it is that I have given a man’s viewpoint to midlife and to some of the issues that I faced, am still facing, through that period of my life. If a single person reads something and pauses to reflect on what I have said then maybe some of my struggles have served a greater purpose than just a personal learning experience.

I have written before about the need for communication because ultimately it’s lack is the cause of all relationship issues. That is no to say that it will solve every problem, but it will at least sort things out before they fester, because it is the festering that is dangerous to relationships. Loz’s first rule of relationships is to ”Talk”.

I think it is also difficult to maintain a relationship if there is a lack of friendship, and friendship must arise from shared experience and a genuine attempt to be interested in what the other person is doing.  Real friendship can lead to love, and the lack of it can just as surely kill love.   If your partner tells you often enough that the stuff you find interesting is either boring, or would be better done in the distant future when the kids are off your hands, or that they simply have no interest, it is very easy to begin to shut the doors of communication. When they tell other people the same things, and suggest that interests are obsessions, then it is easy for guilt to set in and for the interests to become something that is resented and eventually hidden, rather than something that is spoken openly about.   Loz’s second rule of relationships is therefore “Show Interest”. And the third is “Be Friends”.

And finally, maybe selfishly, it is that we should always understand that there are two sides to every story, and that even shared experiences can lead to different memories.  Understand, therefore, that whilst it is sometimes easier to place the blame fully onto one person, or indeed, maybe for that person to fully assume blame, that perhaps there is an underlying history that means blame should be shared.  Maybe not equally, but shared nonetheless.  So whilst we can share the responsibility for the good times and accept that praise, equally we should also accept some of the blame for the bad times as well.  But never all.   Loz’s fourth rule is therefore “Share the blame” because it is an unfair burden to load it all on one person.

Do I regret my marriage?  No, we had a lot of good times together, and have four wonderful children to show for it.  Am I sad it's over?    Of course, at times I am.    That doesn't mean I am not far happier now than I was then.   It's easy to look back now and see the things that lead to the end, but it is a waste thinking that things may have been done differently, because I could only change my own behaviour and that is no guarantee that the behaviour of others would have changed too.    I have learnt that actions and reactions are not necessarily equal, that the first law of motion does not apply to emotion.   And in learning what went wrong in the last few years I hope I have brought a better part of me into the current relationship.  I wish my ex-wife well and hope she finds all she is looking for wherever she travels from now on.

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