Lasting Love

Love starts out all innocent and exciting and yet more than 50% of marriages end in divorce…

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, honestly I believe in looking for the moments that make it worthwhile and holding on to them during times of trial. My parents spent a great deal of my childhood fighting like cat and dog or actually more like the Zulu and Xhosa [if you’re not from Africa then replace those cultures with any two who have had a long standing feud]. Well, needless to say it broke my spirit… I mean, there were amazing moments and terrific memories in between but in the end that’s pretty much where I spent my time: in between! I didn’t want them to fight each other so I got them to fight me instead~ at least that way they’d be on the same side. When that stopped working, I instigated a few subjects I knew they were extremely passionate about and more importantly agreed on and subtly nudged the conversation in that direction and all their anger and frustration would be directed away from each other and our family onto something pretty trivial. See when people who spend most of their life time together fight all the time; they’re usually not fighting about anything important.

I remember the first time I discovered how ridiculous my parent fights were: my 4year old cousin and I were watching TV while my parents went in and out of the house fighting and she turned to me with those big innocent blue eyes and asked: “Why are your parents fighting about a hat?” I couldn’t help but burst out laughing because back then I was so wrapped up in their emotions and their train of thought that I was having their fight internally… I was fighting myself harder than they were fighting each other because I would never choose between my parents… and I was reading between the lines that didn’t actually exist to the point where I couldn’t even see how silly their fights were anymore. I guess that moment [sitting on my grandfather’s chair with my little cousin watching Mulan] was when I decided to let them fight their own battles and if they ever tried to involve me, I’d just laugh at both of them…

While visiting my future parents-in-law I realized how much they are like my parents. Initially I wasn’t thinking about the fighting… they’re just very alike in values and the phrases they use and the things they’re willing to fight for… Obviously their lives have once again been turned upside down so stress is not a big enough word but you can see the pressure building. Occasionally they erupt and have their little storm offs and their kids [both spent several years at boarding school] are not use to this. They don’t want to see their parents as normal human beings who don’t have the answers to everything…

I still remember in the beginning when my parents fighting – at least in front of me- was still new… it was scary and I went through all sorts of emotions but many, many years later I stand here thinking that maybe they did love each other more than I could understand. “We come to blows but every night the passion’s there so it’s got to be right, right?” ~ Alecia B. Moore. I mean, parents always say the reason they set up rules or get angry with us is because they care. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t waist their breath. So maybe that’s part of the key to having lasting love! Maybe we have gotten so use to marriage ending in divorce that that has now become the norm, that walking away from your family [ for whatever reason] is now completely acceptable instead of remembering that it should only be the last resort! Don’t get me wrong: I hated growing up in world war III but at the end of the day when I saw my mom take my dad’s hand or heard that song my dad always played when he couldn’t find the right words to apologize, I remember the love. I remember that my parents were passionate about each other even though they didn’t always know how to show it in a healthy way.

I guess what I’m getting at is that love is complicated. Even the worst relationships in the world started from a little seed of love. Even the ugliest fights are based on passion that can’t be contained. Even the marriages that last several decades will have their declarations of war. Waving that white flag is where we get it all muddled up… Waving the white flag and saying, I’m sorry is hard. Justifying constant arguing by saying that ‘I still love you’, is just a sneaky lie. So where’s the line? If you just stand there and smile and never fight, you’ll have a lot of pent up aggression and if you’re not taking it up with the person responsible, then you’ll take it out on someone else, someone innocent. And if you fight all the time, you’ll be pretty exhausted and innocent people will probably end up in your crossfire as well…

So here’s my view on parents and fighting: If you were adult enough to have a child, then you ought to be smart enough to communicate properly! Raising your voice won’t make the words coming out sound more logical. Not listening to each other will most definitely not solve anything.  Disagreeing is normal and healthy but throwing things and slamming doors shatter more than just glass. To be in a relationship you need to find someone you can be yourself with and merge your entire life with, so if you feel the need to change entirely or try to convince your partner to change their beliefs then maybe you shouldn’t be together. However if you are only disagreeing on day to day things then it’s worth sitting down and having that conversation, no need to shout or get defensive. If the trust is there then you know that you’ll eventually have your turn and don’t have doubt that the other person will listen to you as you are listening to them.

Fighting sucks, especially when you’re watching it from the outside and don’t quite have all the info or understanding needed to fully comprehend the fight. Honestly, I’d rather just laugh at a ridiculous or short tempered comment rather than actually responding but I have a few buttons and if you push them, I could explode on you… Obviously the longer you are with the person you truly love, the easier they’ll be mindful of your buttons and will be able to understand if you get overly emotional about a harmlessly intended comment. But you’ll only get to that point by communicating! Yelling and throwing fits won’t result in a lasting relationship!

 If people you love are fighting, just remember to let them know that you love them. More importantly, don’t make their fight your fight. They probably know things that you don’t know, so refrain from judging either side because it usually just leads to more tension and regret in later years… And when the argument is over and both sides have said their piece, and then leave it there. Lay everything down on the table so that when all is said and done, it’ll be truly over. Don’t say you forgive and then hold this fight in your back pocket in case you might need it, because that is destructive behaviour.

Fighting is a form of passion but anger is not a form of love… Please make sure that you know the difference.

AM

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