How relationships are like sweaters….
The month of February is filled with hearts and love…. It’s heart month, it includes “friendship day” (according to Facebook), Family Day in Canada, and of course, every couple’s favorite day, Valentine’s Day.
For myself, my anniversary with my partner, also falls in February and every year I am reminded of what this month means, or, is “supposed” to mean, for people who live together, have long term marriages, have just met and are still in the giddy, puppy love stage, or for people who are looking for the love of their life.
Over the past week, I have received texts, calls, and even had lunch with friends of mine, all women, who are miserable in the relationships that they are in. They are all at various stages of D.O.N.E. One is planning a life without her significant other, and has one foot out the door, one is “stuck” with her mate, due to financial struggles, and another is planning her big move this weekend and has already found a new place to take her cats, her dog and her boxes of belongings.
Now, this has left me pondering what relationships mean to people in this new age world we live in where everything is either disposed of or recycled or just abandoned. Is it really that easy now? You walk away, divide your things, take what is yours, and move on. Then there’s the lawyers and the financial breakdown, and oh yes, the children you may or may not have together.
Couples now, are in relationships in many capacities with their significant others. Some may have children from previous relationships, while others have no children, and then there are the seemingly more rare ones that have children together. It’s so complicated now, and yet, it seems so easy to just dispose of all of the reasons that we get into relationships to begin with.
I compare it to having an expensive garment, such as a sweater that you have found on a website. You see it and want it so bad! Its perfect for you but you’re just not ready to invest the money for it, until you’re absolutely sure you have to have it. The day comes and you order it and wait for the day when you will finally be adjoined forever with the softness and comfort and style it will offer you. The parcel comes to your door and it enters your life as your new favorite sweater. You open it carefully, take it out of its package and you are instantly in love with it! Its your new favorite and you will love it forever!
You put it carefully in your closet and vow to wear it often and you know it makes you look great, feel warm and comfortable, and makes you truly happy.
Then, something strange happens. You stop wearing it as often. You see it occasionally in your closet and remind yourself how much you love it and talk yourself into wearing it again. You feel bad for not wearing it, as it was once so imperative that you own the soft cashmere embracing garment. But you notice something. A snag. Suddenly, just like that, its not as perfect as you once saw it. But, its still super comfy and you still feel great in it, so you keep trying to wear it as long as you can. People say how great you look in it, and they are jealous of how warm and cozy you are, and they wish they had one just like it! It goes with jeans, skirts, shorts, and leggings. It seems to match your entire wardrobe. They even ask you where you got it from, so that they can find one just like it. This makes you feel amazing so you keep wearing it.
You find another snag. You don’t know how to fix it, so you contemplate what to do with it now that it doesn’t make you feel as good anymore. The feeling of the loss for your perfect sweater starts to engulf you with frustration and sadness. THIS IS YOUR FAVORITE SWEATER and it’s falling apart on you! What will you do? You think of options:
You can throw it away and get a new perfect sweater, maybe in a different style, size or color.
You can wear it anyway, even though you no longer feel awesome when you wear it.
You can fix it and make it look perfect again, even though, deep down you know it’s damaged.
You can have a professional help you “fix it” and they will make sure that it has been repaired with their trained skills.
You can donate it or give it away to someone else who would appreciate it more
You can mend it, and love it again like its brand new.
See where I am going with this? So many people in relationships choose every option EXCEPT number 6. Relationships are often viewed as “things” that cannot be repaired to perfection anymore, and once they have a “snag” in their love life, they think of it as unfix-able and beyond repair. They can try and have professionals such as marriage or couples counselors wield their wisdom and skills and repair the issues, but this often fails as well.
Is there such thing as a WRONG relationship? Can it be compared to a sweater that you thought would be amazing, and it turns out to be ill fitting and uncomfortable? If this is the case, I agree, cut your losses and call it quits.
But once you have had this relationship, or in this case, this sweater for so long, and you once loved it so deeply it excited you to see it and feel it next to your skin, and you honestly looked forward to wearing it as often as you could, it’s clearly not a wrong relationship. It just has a few snags. Snags can be worked on, repaired and sometimes, repaired relationships and repaired sweaters are more comfortable and feel better, and even make you appreciate them more!
I am a casualty of a “disposable” relationship. I was with the same man, my husband and father to my daughter for over 20 years. I knew we had a few snags and I was falling out of love with him when my daughter was a teenager. I am guilty of the disposable relationship myself, and I find myself with regrets occasionally, because I don’t want my daughter to have the belief or the moral compass that relationships should be all comfy warm sweaters, all the time. I want her to be able to work on a relationship and mend it as it tears. Not to throw it in a heap and get rid of it. Would I still be happy with a snagged marriage? I ask myself this question often. I believe I could have tried harder to repair it, and could have made the next steps to have help to repair it, but I felt the need to GET OUT. Not because he was a bad husband or father, but because we had damage. It seemed disposable.
We have been apart for over 7 years now, and he and I, have moved on. I am unsure of how he feels about relationships or what he has taken away from our damaged sweater that we rid ourselves of, but I do know, that NOW I know the value of a good comfy, quality and warm sweater. I know that it takes patience, love and understanding. I know that it will get snags in it. It will come out with flaws if you mistreat it and it will sometimes, even look bad when you put it back on after you lose sight of it. HOWEVER, it’s always worth trying to get back the feeling when you first found the sweater, waited patiently for it to arrive, and the thrill in your heart when you opened it and it fit perfectly! It felt wonderful and it’s very difficult to get that feeling back again.
I love my NEW sweater that I found 7 years ago, with all of my heart. Yes, it has snags, yes it has been torn and damaged, and yes, I know that underneath all of the mending and patching, it’s not as perfect as it once was.
BUT IT’S MINE and I love it and I am sure I will never have the heart to throw it away.
My wish for February is that people who are struggling in long term relationships remember the value of the love they had in the beginning and work on repairing it. The people in new relationships, if the sweater feels bad, or doesn’t make you feel happy, maybe someone else could fit it better. Move on. And the people with one foot out the door? Remember there are always options. (Refer to numbers 1–6). And if there are any children involved, please remember what you are teaching them. They need to value love, value people, and value imperfections. They need to see, that relationships (and sweaters) can be just as beautiful and comforting, with or without snags.