For some reason, people separating, divorcing or otherwise just falling apart has been rampant in my life lately. Well, for me rampant might be three couples, but because I’ve been blessed enough to be surrounded by unbroken relationships, three seems like a lot. It is interesting how, when all you see are people happily living their life as a pair, you often don’t think about it. You ask “I wonder why they broke up” when people fall apart, but how often do you ask “I wonder why they stay together?” In the end, I think staying together is the harder job, but still I wonder what keeps people together.
When I stop and think about those falling apart, the list is pretty typical. Friends who have found that their core interests are too far apart and there is no interest in sharing them anymore. Friends who expected a change in their partner once they were married, and the feel the spouse in not “falling into line”. Perhaps worst of all, friends who are still together, but seem to live separate lives and care little for each other’s well-being anymore. Most of these issues, I think, could be resolved if they had to be. In most of these cases, one of the folks in the relationship is willing to try. But it takes two to tango. In the end, the question in all of them, the unanswerable question, is why wasn’t the work to fix it worth it.
When I stop and think about those still together, the breadth and depth of the reasons are staggering. I have friends with four children, who’ve lived together for close to two decades, and are building their dream home together…and they’re not married. I have friends who have had to fight societal norms in order to build their lives in their communities, actively engaging in the administration of those communities, take their kids to school while juggling two successful professional careers…and these two are gay. I have friends who met late in life, carry on successful careers and yet live a simple country life and grow some of the most amazing things…but they couldn’t have kids. I have many friends where half the couple have ventured out in entrepreneurial adventures, not all successfully. I have friends where half the couple has a passion for extreme sports of various degrees. And despite all these differences and despite the setbacks that many others would cite as they’re reason for leaving, they’re together and they’re happy.
In my life, I’ve been lucky enough to find a best friend and the love of my life in one. We share many things and we support each other in the things we don’t share. Fundamentally we strive for each other’s happiness as much as our own. And when things don’t work…she makes me talk about it until it works again. I can’t answer the question why we stay together, because the alternative is unthinkable. I would fall apart if we were falling apart. To those living it or thinking it, my heartfelt sympathies. To rest, take a moment to think about why you stay together. I hope it brings a smile to your face.