I was talking to an acquaintance recently that is lucky enough to have two wonderful children. He was describing their various achievements; which included – among other things – a high school captaincy, first place in some kind of national spelling bee and selection in the Australian Junior Rowing Team.
I commented that he and his wife must be very proud, to which my acquaintance sadly shook his head and replied that the marriage had failed.
On the heels of such praise for his children’s achievements I immediately challenged him, saying, “Given the fact that you’ve just waxed lyrical about how good your children are, do you really think your marriage has failed?”
He stared at me for a moment and then broke into a huge grin. “Wow! My greatest ever successes have come out of my marriage, so I guess it hasn’t failed at all!”
Many of us tend to make the same mistake. Relationships don’t fail, per se – they merely change. Sometimes, partners move from happiness to boredom. Or what started as infatuation may become ‘what ever did I see?’ Many couples just grow in different directions. Whatever the case (and unless they are living in a cave) it is naïve to expect two people to remain constant for the term of their relationship. Personal growth is always going to make them different to how they started out. That means they may no longer be attracted to the same qualities in a person. Or it could mean the very same attributes they loved they now loathe. Big fucking deal. Whatever they case, it isn’t a failure – it’s just a change of mind!
For too long now, we have been using the wrong descriptives to ‘grade’ everything in our lives – our work, our relationships, our physiques and even our minds – when things are rarely good or bad, or pass or fail, or right or wrong. If we stop giving ourselves such a hard time, yesterday’s changed relationships are fundamental to the happiness of our relationships today and as such, we should look upon them merely as successful lessons learnt the hard way.