By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying –
Lady, make note of this:
One of you is lying.
– Dorothy Parker
Human instinct drives us to find company. We are not a species that enjoys solitude, at least not by nature, and we spend a considerable amount of time and effort during the course of our lives to find true love; a person we can share the rest of our lives with and go as far as having children with. In theory, a relationship like this is built on trust, effective communication and is normally meant to last “forever”. In today’s world, however, that norm has been altered and we find ourselves emotionally preparing ourselves for separation even before we are committed.
Perhaps the roots of this shift in perception go back to centuries in time, or maybe they are caused by the astonishing number of breakups and failed marriages we witness around us, but probing on the reasons behind this phenomenon is another topic for another day. While acknowledging the fact that we go into relationships halfheartedly and prepared for heartbreak, I couldn’t help but wonder why relationships go from sweet to sour to begin with? Why are our knights in shining armors transformed into ogres who make our skin crawl at their mere presence? Why are so many of us who are married thankful for the relationship only because it blessed them with children?
What happens? What goes wrong? Why do relationships go bad?
The most common reasons for relationships going bad, off the top of anyone’s head, are betrayal, jealousy, anger and control issues. The dilemma of each of these reasons are enough to cause someone to commit murder, or suicide, and can be devastating at times. They are sudden and shocking and often cause unbearable pain, but they are not the worst.
What comes as worse than something that causes shock and brings on sudden pain is something that simmers on low heat for so long that it causes insurmountable feelings of resentment that make you sick on the mere mentioning of a name or hearing of a voice. We are usually prone to suppress our feelings of dissatisfaction with our relationships in fear of confrontation and consequences. What we do not realize at the moment we make that choice to stay silent is that we are only making things worse. We are confused between two words; tolerance and surrender. Tolerance is the act of having a fair, objective and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own. Surrender is to give up on one’s influence, course, emotion, belief, etc. We surrender our rights to object, confront our partners and try to reach a middle ground and name that surrender compromise, tolerance or looking at the bigger picture. But what we end up with is a feeling of inferiority that leaves us dissatisfied and, eventually, resentful of the very person we “compromised” for.
In a relationship, the partners play a complicated and cryptic game of power. Throughout the relationship, the power keeps shifting from one partner to the other, depending on the situation and circumstances at hand. We are constantly battling our partners for power; battling the person we should be with and not against, with an attitude of “it’s my way or the highway!” Women dab their eyelashes, cry or threaten to involve their parents. Men raise their voices, get emotionally or physically abusive and sometimes even manipulate the rights given to them by our religions, not in the name of sorting out the conflict, but in the name of having the last say in the matter and putting a foot down. In these cases, forced superiority and being taken for granted play the ugly role of paving that road to the beginning of the end.
Why do we find it so hard to communicate how we feel about a situation? Why does loving someone automatically mean that they should understand how we feel without us making the effort to reveal our emotions? Why are we doing this “dance”; the dance of power, and significantly affecting the health of our relationships?
It is said that women initiate relationship break-ups for as many reasons as there are raindrops, but one very significant reason is that the guy they partnered with or married simply disappeared… So, where were they when he was vanishing into the abyss? What were they busy with? And vice versa; when men are first interested in a woman, they go to the ends of the world to please her. When a man stops doing what he did to get his woman in the first place, the relationship starts to go sour. So, if a man keeps doing what he did to get his woman to fall for him, he will successfully keep her.
We have to realize that in relationships, we need to go an extra mile. We have to watch that movie we hate, to cook that meal we hate, to go to a family gathering or outing instead of watching football at home, to pamper you man and make an effort to look good at home, we have to do all these things to make our partners happy. And, if it doesn’t go both ways, it simply won’t be worth the effort.
If and when one of the people involved stops bothering, the relationship is simply doomed. Men who have become so caught up in work, their lives, their own interests and day-to-day pressures forget how to make their women happy. And women who are too busy with their kids or their careers or pleasing others forget how to make their men happy. During this course of action, we also forget how to communicate and we let the resentments build until the situation is irresolvable. We are either stuck in tasteless and unsatisfying relationship or we give up on our “lifetime partner” and tell ourselves, “I knew it! This was never meant to last! It’s a good thing I was prepared for the heartbreak…
We know for a fact that men and women CAN successfully communicate with each other. After all, communicating is how you got to be seriously involved with your man in the first place.