We Want Them to Fight For Us
When it comes down to being cheated on, I think that was the hardest thing-
That he didn’t see the marriage – didn’t see ME – as something worth fighting for.
I remember reading stories from people who had unfaithful partners who confessed and condemned their own actions, throwing themselves into recovery. I heard about spouses who had made mistakes and once they realized the magnitude of what they were about to lose, fought like hell to keep it. I learned about the pain of relapse and the struggle to again trust the one that betrayed you. I devoured stories of ugly screaming matches, emotions running high as both partners grappled with the magnitude of the shockwave to the relationship.
I envied those people.
We think we want them to fight for us. But what we really want is for them to WANT to fight for us.
At first, I grew desperate. Even though he refused contact, I sent emails and text messages begging for him to respond to me. To talk to me. I pleaded with him over voice mail, “Please just talk to me. Why are you doing this?”
I never got a response.
It’s natural to panic when we fear we are losing our grip. We beg, we plead, we grow irrational. We believe that if we can just hold tightly enough, that we won’t lose them.
And it almost always backfires.
For some, it pushes them away, desperation as repellent. For others, seeing us so panicky makes them feel guilty and, by extension, uncomfortable. And so they try to fight, putting on a good face. But they’re not really fighting for us, they’re playacting to keep us from fighting against them. It’s a hollow victory.
When they don’t fight for us, it makes us question our value.
As the desperation morphed into a begrudging acknowledgement, I grew despondent. This man that fought for so much in his life, refused to even pick up a phone for his wife. For me. Did that mean that I was worth less than his job, his hobbies or, of course, the affair partner?
All I could assume was that, according to his calculus, losing me was not a loss. Which set my value at zero.
It’s natural for us to see ourselves reflected in our partner. But when they become twisted, that reflection is no longer accurate. They benefit from projection, from painting us as being less than we are in order to pretend to be greater than they are. What they lack, they try to steal from us.
Perhaps their unwillingness to fight, to face the consequences, is more a reflection of their character and cowardice than of our worth.
When we believe that divorce is not an option, their unwillingness to fight for the marriage makes us feel like a failure.
When I was in the midst of divorce, I had so many people say to me that, in their marriage, divorce was not an option.
Well, it wasn’t an option to me either. Until it became a necessity.
It takes two to make a marriage work, and only one to destroy it.
If you’re the only one fighting to save it, there is nothing to save.
But we don’t give up easily, do we? It’s so hard to accept that they’re not doing their part and that no matter how much we try, we cannot do their part for them. That sometimes, accepting it’s over isn’t quitting, it’s taking care of ourselves.
We cannot make them fight for us.
But we can fight for ourselves.
To believe in our worth and settle for nothing less.