Brock asked me once if I would have given my first marriage a chance if my ex had come to me instead of disappearing.
“It depends,” was my response. By the time the end was imminent, there had been so many lies and so much betrayal that I don’t think we could have moved beyond it. But if had approached me earlier?
One of the reasons I married Brock was for his, “Hard work can fix anything” atittude. He’s not one to easily give up on anything. I like that. And for the most part, I share that attitude.
But I’ve also experienced enough to know that effort can’t fix everything. Especially if the effort is one-sided.
From Til Death Do You Part:
I see the vows as like the wheels on a bicycle. Ideally, both are fully functioning and working in concert. If one tire is a little flat, the other can help support the weight for a time until the tire is re-inflated. If one wheel is bent, the ride may not be over as long as the metal is hammered back into shape. Yet if one wheel is removed, the bicycle is useless no matter how hard the remaining wheel works. And it’s time to either find a new wheel or learn how to ride a unicycle.
There are certain dire situations where my reaction would be to immediately end a marriage instead of staying and working to fix it.
The following are my marriage deal breakers:
Reoccuring Infidelity or Infidelity Without Accepting Responsibility
I don’t believe that the occurance of infidelity should automatically result in a marital split. I have heard of so many cases where the crisis, once the underlying issues have been confronted and addressed, has made a couple closer in the end. Yet in order for the marriage to have a chance, the cheater has to take responsibility for their actions and make the necessary changes so that it doesn’t happen again.
It’s hard work. It’s messy work. And it’s work that has do be undertaken by both spouses. If the infidelity became a pattern or the responsibility was shrugged off, I would walk.
The need to feel physically safe is a basic one. And in a relationship, a physical reaction to a disagreement or frustration is never okay. I can’t imagine ever feeling safe again (much less acttracted to) somebody who had struck me.
Maybe it was a one-time thing. An overreaction while being emotionally consumed. But that’s not a chance I would want to take.
Much like with infidelity, I don’t believe that a single (or occasional) lie is a reason to hire a lawyer. Even if it’s a major lie, I would try to understand the motivation behind the untruth before calling it quits. But if the lies overlapped like shingles on a roof keeping the truth out, my inclination towards sympathy would be erased. Once somebody has allowed lying and deceiving to be their way of interacting with the world, they have a hard time living in truth.
They may tell you they’ll stop lying. But history proves that’s a lie as well. I refuse to ever again live in a land of make believe that somebody is projecting for me. Especially if it involves my financial security!
It seems self-explanatory, doesn’t it? Yet I had people question my decision to divorce my ex – who disappeared, married somebody else and refused contact. I mean, really? I guess I can kind of see it if the marriage provides insurance benefits or something (I’ve met people where this is the case and they stay married for a long period of time in name only).
Even with the definitions of marriage changing, it still takes (at least) two to make it work. When one goes, it’s gone.
And then there’s the ones that may reach deal breaker status – addiction and mental illness.
After my ex left, I learned he had been struggling with both of these. And not handling either well. I don’t see addiction or mental illness as automatic deal breakers. In fact, I view them more as a time to increase effort (both in self-care and support for the spouse) than calling it quits. Of course, in order for that to happen, the struggling partner has to be open enough to reveal their struggles. If it’s hidden, the combined efforts can’t happen.
These two issues can be devastating – both for the affected one and for the impacted loved ones. And that’s why it’s a murky area. If the addict or mentally ill person consistently refuses to get help and continually acts in ways that threaten the well-being of the family, there may come a time when distance is the best option for all involved.
So, back to Brock’s question – Would I have tried to work through the issues in my first marriage?
Yes, if he had come to me about his battle with depression and drinking before the lies overwhelmed our lives. Yes, if he was ready to accept responsbility for his actions and willing to accept help. Yes, if he was wanting to increase effort rather than run away. Yes, if we would have been fighting together for a shared goal.
But I refuse to fight alone.
And so I chose a spouse the next time around that isn’t prone to those dealbreakers. That isn’t afraid of hard work. That doesn’t mind getting messy. That fights with me for our marriage.
And I’m glad that most stressors in a marriage are not of the deal breaking variety. I hope to never see those again.
Those are my marriage deal breakers. What are yours?