Do you ever look back at a former relationship and wonder what you saw in your one-time flame?
Or do you ever question a friend or family member’s choice in partners?
It’s easy when you’re outside of a relationship to view the bigger picture, the distance providing perspective while damping emotions.
But when you’re in it?
It’s all too easy to bury your head in the sand.
We stick our heads in the sand in relationships for a variety of reasons:
A wife sees a suggestive text on her husband’s phone from an unknown female. Her heart begins to race and panic floods her system. The hint of an affair is overwhelming to her; she cannot face the thought that her marriage is in trouble and that she may lose her husband. She turns away from the text and tries to pretend that she never saw it. That it didn’t happen.
When we see something that frightens us, we have two choices: approach or hide. In a relationship, the latter can cause problems as the truth is not faced because of the anxiety of losing the partnership. Of course, the fear persists even when the truth is not faced head-on. This state is usually temporary when either the truth becomes too big to avoid or the anxiety becomes too high to tolerate and the evidence is finally challenged. Burying your head out of fear may make you blind but it leaves you even more vulnerable to attack.
A husband is busy at work, long hours and stressful clients have kept him away from home both physically and emotionally. He prides himself on providing for his family and doesn’t really have the time or energy to consider the status of the marriage as a whole. His wife, meanwhile, appreciates his efforts but feels isolated and lonely as her partner has become a husband in name only.
Heads can end up in the sand even without intentional digging. Stay still long enough and the tides will conspire to bury you. This is a blindness born of inattentiveness and busyness rather than willful evasion. Regardless of the motivation, the outcome is still a relationship in danger due to a lack of clarity and communication.
A wife is pretty sure that her husband has a mistress. She intentionally chooses to turn a blind eye to his affair because he is a good father and stable husband. So she decides not to confront him and, even more, chooses to avoid situations that may reveal evidence of the infidelity. She knows something is there but chooses not to look.
This blindness is born more of pragmatism than fear. The reality is known to an extent and even quietly accepted. It’s a desire to pretend that life isn’t messy and emotions can be subjugated to reason. It’s a carefully edited and narrated form of the relationship. Although often dismissed, there is a sadness in this buried head that comes from lack of vulnerability and associated intimacy.
Prior to the marriage, a husband knows that his wife has problems with anger. He is uncomfortable with her temper and it raises red flags for him. However, he wagers her temperament against her other qualities and decides that the good outweigh the bad. When others bring up her outbursts out of concern, the husband responds by dismissing the concerns and tallying the pros that she brings to the table.
This is a common approach when a partner has issues with violence and/or substance abuse. There may be several very good qualities that are only occasionally accompanied by the bad. It’s a dangerous game; however, as the blinded partner slides into enabling the poor behaviors and choices.
A healthy relationship is one where both partners have their heads tall, looking out for problems on the horizon and addressing them as they approach. Burying your head may make you feel safe for a time but it’s no way to live.
Have the courage to lift your head.
True love isn’t blind.