Monday, August 25, 2014

Nobody Knows

Nobody knows, nobody can know, what goes on between couples. Curious onlookers, we may wonder what keeps them together, or what drives them apart, or whether they are truly as happy as they purport to be, or which party loves more, but we cannot know anything more than what they choose to reveal in their actions and words. Often the people involved don't know themselves! I've read that, while fifteen percent of married Americans admit to having "cheated" on their partners, the majority of these "adulterers" maintain their marriages are "happy." And not even swans, who are said to mate for life, are entirely monogamous. 

Of course, some people can only screw up their courage to leave an unhappy relationship by hopping, like anxious frogs, onto the next lily pad. And some people engineer spectacularly hurtful breakups because they enjoy creating drama, or they need to force the other person to leave them. And sometimes they just can't help falling in love with someone else, or they're in the process of becoming someone different than the person who once swore, in all sincerity, to be loving and true 'til death dost them part.

Shit happens.

I've been cheated on more than once, and nothing is more wretched. I've howled at the moon and torn my hair over the unfairness of it. Years later, I could start to acknowledge the role I had played in these dysfunctional relationships, and it was both humbling and healing. And now, many years later, I am mostly grateful, because the breakups that ensued pushed me on down the path of my own personal journey. And I must say, I am happy where I've wound up, so I guess it was all worth it...

When it comes to matters of the heart (or loins) I can only say this:

The older I get, the less judgmental I can be. Life is complicated and messy, and nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors.  [cue Charlie Rich]


  1. Cinzia, I thought you might find this article interesting:

  2. Life, eh? You have to live it a little to gain appreciation of its complexity and ambiguity when it comes to relationships.

    "Often the people involved don't know themselves!"

    So very true, and not only with respect to cheating. It is said that in every marriage, there are at least three versions of it: his, hers, and theirs. And often they are very different from each other.

    I worked with couples in counseling and can attest to it. My own marriage has taught me that as well. We often differ diametrically in our perceptions of what's going on, since what we see is always informed (or skewed rather) by our own needs, desires, frustrations, and resentments. It takes compassion and patience, then even more compassion, to make it work somehow.

    I used to think that the passage of time makes all of us more empathetic and compassionate. And then I encountered the (not-so)New Misogynists, some of whom are in their 60s and 70s, and who continue to revel in their hatred and resentment unaffected by that wisdom I believed is bestowed on each of us by time.

  3. Too true. I try to stay out of my friends' relationships. If a partner is cheating on, beating on or stealing from the other partner, I would urge that other partner to get the hell out, but with anything else I keep my counsel.


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