I used to believe that marriage vows were never to be broken. If you promised “for better or for worse” you had better mean it. Afterall, my mother did, and her mother before her. But raising two daughters of my own changed my mind.
Yes, I still believe in marriage, and in vows. I even believe in “for better or for worse.” I just know now that the term ‘worse’ has certain perimeters. For example, WORSE does not include infidelity (more on this in a minute) nor does it include physical, sexual or verbal abuse. Worse does not mean we are to tolerate a husband that calls us names, leaves bruises on our bodies or makes us feel like we are less than, in any way.
Throughout the course of a marriage, we will all face many obstacles. Financial burdens, health issues, job stress, raising difficult teenagers and so on. We may even face infidelity. There is a very personal choice that needs to be made in cases where one, the other or both spouses have strayed. I’ve seen many marriages survive this. Others have decided that it was more than they can overcome. No one can make this decision for you.
When life gets in the way, as it will, and we hit road bumps in our relationship, it can be easy to walk away. But one thing I have learned over and over in my life is that nothing worth having ever comes easy. Choose on a daily basis to love one another no matter what comes your way. It’s that simple. Wake up in the morning, look at the person laying next to you and vow that “for today, I will love him/her.” Remember, love is not only an emotion, it is a verb. I implore you to do your best to stick it out through the tough times. You will reap the rewards later in your life.
Of course, as I said earlier, their are exceptions to every rule. My first husband hit me. I allowed it to happen, in front of my daughters even, for far too many years. He was also verbally quite cruel, and my self esteem had shrunk to almost nothing. One day a neighbor (whom I’m sure witnessed more than she’ll ever admit), pulled me aside and said “Have you ever heard the expression about how girls always grow up to marry men just like their dads?”
That was all she needed to say. I knew I had to leave, or risk my girls growing up thinking that his behavior was normal. I wanted them to see me strong, and happy. I wanted them to witness healthy relationships so that they would seek the same.
In cases where you are not “confined” by marriage, and you’re finding that you question the relationship, the answer might be a little different. In case of abuse, the answer stands – get out. Get out now, and never look back. If you’re simply unsure, then it’s probably time to hold a conversation with yourself. Here are a few questions to get you started:
1. Am I able to be myself around this person?
2. Is it easy to be honest with this person?
3. Do my friends/family question why I am still in this relationship?
4. Does this person lift me up, or put me down?
5. Do I frequently find myself looking at other people as potential mates or dates?
Be honest with yourself, and I believe you’ll find the answer is right in front of you.