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2013-04-18 digital edition

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2013-04-18 / General Stories

Laura on Life

Until Death Do You Part

I came of age in a time when “free love” was just starting to look like the fraud it was and just before a promise of love became something more like a threat.

We understood that if you love someone, you have to set them free. If they came back, they are yours. If not, it was never meant to be. This simple adage bridged the gap between the free-lovers who “loved the one they were with” even if you were “with” someone different every four hours, and the couples who took a vow of marriage with a side that, by God, their new spouse had better be faithful.

At some point that adage became distorted by a fear of abandonment. It became less important for your lover to love you and more important that he/ she stick around even if they didn’t love you, or else.

The adage was changed to: If you love something, let it leave the house occasionally. If it comes back, it’s yours. If not, hunt it down and threaten its life.

The news is full of stories about people who, at one time, took a vow of eternal love and commitment, and then, a few years later, decided to permanently dispose of their spouse using various nefarious means. I can understand a couple who falls out of love. That is acceptable. But when you feel the urge to do mortal harm to one another, it’s time to think about whether the marriage was meant to be.

There are a myriad of reasons why marriages fall apart. Most of them fall into the “irreconcilable differences” category that invariably shows up on most divorce papers. Whether your differences are irreconcilable or not is all relative, I think. Citing the sense of entitlement that some of the younger generations have, it’s all about a couple’s threshold of tolerance. But I would say that if your thoughts are murderous, your differences are way beyond reconciling.

Don’t let some mediator or church official talk you into staying with someone whom you believe the world would be better off without. Remember that this may very well be your exclusive opinion. Divorce is hard, I’ve heard, but so is 30 years to life. It was simply not meant to be.

My husband and I have been happily married for 27 years. I’ll readily admit to times of frustration, unkind thoughts, and an occasional wish to be single. I’ve gotten so mad during hormonal surges that appliances became airborne before crashing into walls. I want to add here that the airborne appliances were never aimed at my husband and if I had aimed at him, I wouldn’t have missed.

We’ve had many arguments over issues that are now in the “agree to disagree” column on our marital ledger. But I’ve never once dreamed of hacking up his body and hiding it in my freezer. I’ve never once had the urge to put him permanently out of my life and everyone else’s.

We have a true respect for each other as human beings, not simply as the other half of our marriage. Our marriage is a life separate from our own, one we have to feed and nurture if we want it to grow and stay healthy. If we can’t work out a problem, we put it aside and move on. There is no sense in dwelling on a divisive issue unless your motive is, in fact, to divide. If your intention is to be there for each other forever, then your only options are to earmark the issues that cause friction and either solve them in a way that is satisfactory to both partners or flush the issue. If these issues cause more than mere friction and your thoughts are leading to a dark place in the basement of your soul, then flush the marriage before anyone gets hurt.

This advice is coming from a couple who has had some success where the longevity of a happy marriage is concerned. I’m not a marriage counselor or a psychiatrist, but I can tell you for certain that if you can no longer live with the part of your marriage vows that say “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health”, and if “until death do you part” starts sounding like an escape clause, then you need to move on because, it was never meant to be.

You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more columns and info about her books.

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