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It Won’t Make You Happy, It Will Teach You to Love

I read yet another memoir in this month’s issue of More magazine about the dissolution of yet another marriage. This is a story that is familiar, so many women, more than not, can relate to it, and even some of the women who are still married can kind of relate, because there are plenty of married couples who have one foot out the door. This essay was thoughtful, insightful and well written- the author was actually able to recount the moment her marriage faltered and eloquently describe what followed. 

She says in the piece, “I have been thinking about why we get married and why we get divorced, and I wonder whether the urge behind both actions is that different. I wanted to be happy, a desire that strikes me now as a generational marker, a need that is not in the marital lexicon of my parents…”

This idea that a relationship should make you happy is a fairly new one, she goes on to explain how her parents don’t ask that question. I think it is worth reflecting on this generational leap that we have all silently agreed to and is creating the largest percentage of single parent households that this culture has ever known.

Call me old fashioned then, because I am here to tell you, that relationships never existed to make anyone happy. They exist to teach us to love each other. They are the most gentle and evolutionary method we have for growing kind, growing wise, growing generous. This idea that we should be happy and also for that matter, that our mate will fill the space in us, so we won’t be lonely, is the Disney myth. It’s not true now, and never was, not even for Cinderella.

There are relationships that we should leave, that are violent to our bodies or our minds. Not everything is reconcilable. But for all the marriages that I have witnessed the end of, and in my 23 years of marriage, it has been many- hardly any of them ended from abuse, rather it was a level of discontentment- that somehow, the marriage should have made them happier.

I wonder if they had been looking for what there is to stay for, rather than focusing on what was missing, would there have been a bridge. There was for me in my marriage, and it took years to build, and many a discontented and lonely evening waiting for a mind to build it.

I am a loveologist at heart, and although there are many studies that back me up on the overall benefits in health and well-being to being a part of a couple, these days I feel I am blowing a lonely horn– trying to be the little engine that could. I’ll get down off the soap box now to attend to the messy business of keeping it going.