The 1961 Connie Francis song laments about love, waiting and finding the one. With the divorce rate for first marriages holding at 50% for the past decade and the divorce rate for second marriages being around 65% I’d say the boys (and girls) are divorced and picking up the pieces. It would appear that most people are now far more familiar with divorce and even repeated divorces than those who are succeeding at their marriages and relationships. I have to wonder, is the institution of marriage now less sacred, less important? Is it worth getting married at all?
I married young and as with many 21st century young marriages, it failed. Ultimately our goals and belief in the institution of marriage were different. We were different. So, after less than three years it was over. I’ve had as many “relationships” as I do college degrees. Literally. I’m the type of person who seems to lose a bit of myself with each failed relationship. I think each relationship is sacred and unique and so I take their demise a lot harder than most. Like many others, relationships don’t seem to agree with me. I’m the “you’ve made me think differently about my life” girl. I’m a nester, needy and exacting. I’m much different from the way I am in my professional life. In today’s world it has become a great deal more common to find love online (tried that, didn’t find it). For someone like myself who quite literally works and goes home, if I were to find love it’d probably be online. It’s unlikely that my Mr. Right isn’t going to stroll through the doors of the public library.
Despite the failed relationships I still believe in true love and having a soul mate. The dream would certainly be like that of Nicholas Sparks’ ‘The Notebook.’ I suppose I’m a bit old-fashioned, I have an old soul. I often say that I know what it’s like to love but not what it’s like to be loved. It’s a common struggle for us all. We seek to find our life’s companion and find that we end up learning a great deal more about how cruel life can be. It’s hard not to be discouraged or to give up. With each passing year and more gray hairs I wonder, will I ever find “the one?”
Relationships are often a very painful part of life. There’s really no way to prepare for its impact. I suffer from depression and have self-esteem issues (a topic I’ll cover in a future article). Yes, I’m not always the confident library administrator I seem to be. I’ve learned to fake a lot when it comes to social settings. That is to say, the end of a relationship can send me into a very serious tailspin. You question your worth as a person and partner and wonder why you were left behind. And don’t mistake me writing this as another way for a woman to ridicule a man. I’m sure that men have similar problems. However, I’m a girl and so you get a girl’s perspective.
My best friend often tells me that I aim too low when it comes to guys. I think that my general preference in men is nothing like others would think it is. I’ve never dated anyone who’s my equal or anyone without a great deal of baggage. I like to say that I like a challenge while my therapist (yes, I have one) says that I have issues with codependency. Ouch. As if life isn’t hard enough.
So, to marry or not to marry? I think that successful relationships require each person to be confident and truly comfortable with who they are. That isn’t to say that each person has to be strong or perfect, you just need to be more cognizant of whom you are and what you need. In moments of desperation and loneliness we often make decisions that we’re guaranteed to regret. You can’t erase or even truly forget these life experiences but what you can do is actually learn from them.
Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Changing our behavior is among the most difficult things to do in life. Not becoming discouraged or even falling back into old habits is often impossible. However, the irrefutable fact is that life isn’t fair. We often don’t get what we deserve. That’s life. The key is to not become so disparaged that you no longer believe that “in the crowd of a million people I’ll find my valentine.”
This article appeared on page 5A in the 1/25/12 issue of The Union-Recorder.