They say love is blind! You heard the statement a thousand times and after a couple years of being married you ask yourself the question, why did you marry this person? You try as best you can to reason it all out and you come back to the same place, you hate your partner.
While most couples show some abuse and neglect, I’m not speaking of relationships that are fundamentally abusive, and always have been. I’m talking about unions that begin in love, with best intentions, then weaken or deteriorate, over time, until they are deeply diminished or you literally start feeling hate for this person.
The reasons for the demise of a relationship can be as complex, variable, and valid for each individual in them as the reasons why they both stay after it’s over. I’m not going into any of that. I’m here because I suspect that many of you have come to know, whether suddenly or slowly, that you can hardly stand to be in the same room any more with the one who used to be the home of your heart, you hate your partner.
Maybe it’s not that bad for you. Maybe it’s worse. In any case, it sure isn’t what we thought it would be, is it? Wherever we live on the bell curve of alienated relationships, the questions are perplexing. What do we do, now that Cinderella’s once gleaming slippers have long since given us blisters? Is there a healing balm? How do we cope? And what about new shoes?
The first step is acceptance, acceptance, acceptance. Or is that three steps? Either way, taking a good, long look at your situation and seeing it as it really is, not as you want it to be, or hope it will be, is essential. Try, for a while, to step back and look at your life as if it’s someone else’s. What kind of movie is this? Most likely, not a romantic comedy.
Shifts in perception are usually gradual, as intrusive realities keep bumping up against wishful thinking and romantic illusions. I read an article and the writer expressed, “I always thought the forgetful husband was a stereotype only created as fodder for comedy, or drama – until the time my husband forgot our wedding anniversary. Ouch! That hurt. It took me a long time to realize that what was going on in my life each day didn’t match the pretty pictures I had in my head.”
Much of this awakening is about accepting your partner – as is. Not as you expected or desire, but what is actually happening? Observe, as objectively as possible, what they do and say, or don’t do and say, also noticing your own internal responses, but not reacting outwardly.
There is no rewriting, editing or directing. And be open to the possibility of some interesting surprises. Part of acceptance is acknowledging the positive, the history, the effort, the limitations involved. He may be an oaf most of the time, but he feeds the cat and takes out the garbage. She might be frigid but she’s a mean cook. He won’t dance with you, but only because he can’t; he’s got no sense of rhythm. And she surprised you with that expensive gizmo you wanted for your car ten years ago, didn’t she? Count the good stuff. Try to remember whatever happiness you’ve had together.
Yeah but you hate your partner is the message in your head, so you should honor what you can in the other as you honor yourself. Try your best to love yourself and any children you have more than you hate whatever your spouse has done, or continues to do, that drives you mad. No matter how annoying, nasty, ignorant or malicious that son of a bitch, or bitch, is, hold on to the concept that berating or degrading someone else, in the end, only demeans the demeanor. Don’t you do it.
In the thick of things it’s a real test of integrity to keep your composure, maintain balance, and know when to simply say nothing and walk away. But, if you can, save the rage for later, to vent to a journal or friend. In the moment try repeating an affirmation to yourself, like, “With each challenge I am stronger and wiser.”
It’s painfully disappointing when we are not loved as we would like to be, or when we are locked out from loving those we most want to be close to. Opening our hearts, trusting, giving of ourselves, especially repeatedly, makes us vulnerable and it hurts each time we are misunderstood, ignored or forgotten. Each little incident, or big blow-up, is another injury. In turns, and at once, we feel sad, angry, conflicted, frustrated, confused – not just about the past, but because losses are ongoing, with less and less chance of mutual happiness as time passes. There can be an overwhelming sense of futility and failure. It’s crazy-making, lonely and isolating, especially with no one to validate our view. It’s the old “behind closed doors” syndrome. No one can ever know the whole of another’s experience.
In your suffering, remember – grief is a necessary and important part of this growth process. Dreams die hard. The pain is real. Let yourself feel whatever emotions come up, without judgment, and find healthy expression for them. The trick is to allow feelings and admit losses without getting lost in them. Do not let any tell otherwise, but when you say hurtful things to your partner and say that you are sorry, they may take it to their grave, just keep those naughty words inside and think if you heard those words how would you respond.
In the midst of my deepest grieving, admitting my part in the situation, helped me get out of victim mode. Admitting your part is not about fault or blame. It’s describing yourself and your behavior as if you are a character in a play that’s being written as you live it. It’s asking, “What is my role in this? My motivation? How did I get to this point? How might my actions move the plot? Affect other characters?”
There are those of us who think in order for us to receive love we first have to be perfect and so we are difficult to love but we never see this so we spend a huge amount of energy, and a small fortune, on self-improvement only to discover that our “better” was the “or worse” of the marriage.
We spend our entire time trying to change someone – you can only change yourself. If you’ve made every effort to communicate, adapt, resolve issues and revitalize the relationship, without reciprocation, what it comes to at last is that you are but part of partners, and you can’t make it better alone.
Loving another person more than they love themselves, more than they can accept, is just not possible. It’s like pouring more liquid into a cup already full; it just overflows. You can only love someone to their capacity for love. Only by expanding can the human vessel hold more. And people, unlike plants, can’t be forced to grow. Ultimately this outlook begs the crushing question, “If nothing ever changes, here, how do I want to live the rest of my life?”
In all of this there is constant, ongoing reassessment. In each phase of it I think it’s vitally important to be as honest as possible, as changing circumstances allow, not only with yourself, but with your other and those you trust around you. With family and friends, or even people you just met, trust yourself to know who to tell, how much, and when. With discretion, I believe we can protect our privacy without hiding or denying reality.
You hate your partner
I remember so well the day I realized that I couldn’t possibly be the cause of everything that was wrong in my marriage. It came down to the math of it. I asked myself, “If there are two people in a relationship, any relationship, good or bad, what are the chances that all the outcomes of it are the result of one or the other’s input?” The clear answer was, “Zero.”
Sometimes you just have to walk away, however before you do, give it your best and do all you can do because once you are convinced that you did the best you could, your healing will be swift.