This morning I was thinking about marriage and relationships…

For the sake of this post I will refer to marriages, long term relationships and defacto relationships of any kind as ‘marriage’ or ‘relationship’, or I will end up wasting way too many words and you will all lose interest, if you haven’t already ☺

Marriage is a day job; its a day-by-day job where you are on call 24 hours a day. There  are no ‘days off’, or ‘sick days’, included for when we are just ‘not feeling like we want to participate’.

When we agree to be a part of someone’s life, this is what happens…

Two people come together, they each have a suitcase full of hopes, expectations, dreams, ideals, beliefs, opinions and disappointments. As a couple, it is important to begin their relationship with a ‘shared’ suitcase, instead of two separate ones. To be able to move forward and have a successful relationship, all the contents of these bags need to be emptied out, inspected and either released or kept for the future.

This can be really tough. If we have been hurt in the past, it is difficult not to bring those hurts with us, even though we know they could have a detrimental impact on our current relationship.

As we unpack our dreams, there is a chance that our life partner doesn’t have the same goals, so we may both be required to compromise in some way, and that’s okay. When we become ‘two’ on this new life path, we need to be aware there will always be adjustment and change.

This brings me to my next point. We are continually changing and evolving. You are both not going to stay the same forever. It’s impossible. Think about your day yesterday, did something happen that changed your perception of life in general? It could be something as simple as not being able to buy your favourite bread, someone pulling out in front of you on the highway and forcing you to veer away to avoid an accident, or as heartbreaking as finding out someone is no longer a part of your life. These events change you, every single day. Next time you might go to the shops earlier to ensure you get your bread before its sold out, you will drive more cautiously on the highway, especially where your near miss occurred, or emotions of sadness, regret and love may rule your days for a period of time. Every event that occurs in our lives change us irrevocably. We can never go back to who we were, due to these daily outer influences.

When people talk to me about their relationship to me and say, ‘They have changed, but I haven’t’, I gently point out that this isn’t true. The only way for this statement to be partially true, would be to lock ourselves in a room with blank walls and not live our lives…and even then we would change….we would be bored, hate the colour of the walls or even learn how to fashion a key so we could break out….and all that will create change!

In a relationship, we make choices each and every moment of every day. We decide whether to listen to our significant other, whether to take a specific action or whether to walk away. Even doing nothing is a choice, although sometimes this isn’t the right one, as it can lead to the breakdown of the relationship.

As we change, sometimes we grow apart, we don’t see things in the same way as the other person anymore. We can’t relate like we used to. If we relate a failing marriage to a job, we stop ‘clocking in’ every day, we try to take ‘time off’, or call in sick. This compounds the situation in ways that can prove irreconcilable.

Some relationships can weather this storm and eventually, after change, compromise and clearing of the air, the couple can move forward with a stronger foundation.

Sometimes the damage runs too deep, but they stay together, clinging to the belief that staying together is more important than being happy. The impact on their children, if they have any, can affect their future relationships, believing that the dysfunctionality of their parent’s relationship is the norm they should aspire to.

On rare occasions, one of them can feel there is no way out, except to ‘exit permanently’, which creates a scar on those they leave behind.

Others decide that being true to themselves is more important than the way their relationship looks and separate themselves from the situation. This can be a mutual decision. Although this is also traumatic for all involved, at least there is also a possibility of happiness for each of them.

There is no right or wrong solution. There is only our personal choice. Sometimes we save ourselves by leaving, and sometimes we save our relationship by staying. We mustn’t worry about what others may say or think about us, as this can affect the actions we take, and, at the end of the day, those people aren’t living our life. They are viewing it from the outer edges, without any inside knowledge.  Our choice is exactly that, our choice.

Love and life can be extremely complicated. There are no easy answers. Anyone going through a difficult time in a relationship needs to weigh up what is important, what isn’t, and what needs to happen next.

We only have one life, this is not a dress rehearsal. We can choose to make changes and be happy where we are in this present moment, or take steps to make happiness a priority in whichever direction we choose.

So take a moment today to look at your relationship…are you ‘clocked in’? …do you need to be more proactive? …are you listening? …are you participating? …do you need outside help? …how do you feel about where you are at this present moment? …what steps can you take to improve your relationship? …are you still carrying a combined suitcase? …what are you prepared to do to make things work for you both?

Only you know the answers to these questions. Only you can make a decision for you. Only you know what you truly want to do

with Love, Respect & Integrity