Commitment Is the Thing That Is Missing Between Infatuation and Abandonment
It happened to many of us. We fell into infatuation with someone or something [admittedly, the infatuation may have been with infatuation itself], and gradually, we found ourselves leaving or having been left. The people who leave have often found another infatuation to sprint toward, and the ones who are left are alone–abandoned, empty, shut out and down, and drained.
“Absence is a house so vast that inside you will pass through its walls and hang pictures on the air.” ― Pablo Neruda
The leaver’s final words are so very predictable that they have become the stuff of bad sit coms, “I never loved you.”
The one who was left cannot believe her ears, but the leaver is probably telling the truth. The leaver never did love the one that he is leaving, but he doesn’t love her replacement either. Love has nothing to do with this drama. Infatuation is the name of this game, and as I recall the stages of my own having found someone, having married, and having become alone once more, I can recognize that the missing ingredient in my own relationship was not that of love. I had only been infatuated, too. The missing ingredient in my marriage was that of a decent commitment.
One advantage of having moved to the Northeast is that here I have met people from all over the world, and I have become familiar with several cultural practices that differ from my own. While I was living in the South, I heard of the concept of arranged marriage, but in the Northeast, I have been allowed to appraise it first hand. I actually know several couples now whose marriages were arranged, and I am beginning to believe that an arranged marriage might have more staying power than the typical American marriage. In an arranged marriage, the couple enters the arrangement with a level head. From the beginning of their lives together, they know that above everything else, they have made a commitment to each other. They know that they have a partnership.
Americans are infatuation junkies. We love being “swept off of our feet,” and to perpetuate the cycle of falling into infatuation, we marry and divorce many times.
Fight or Flight – The Dynamics of Dealing with the End of Infatuation
Every relationship that is based on infatuation is headed toward the rocks. We are distinguished by what we do once we get there.
We often hear that people can be distinguished by their tendencies toward either fighting or flying. In other words, when things get tough, people either run from the problem or they stick with it and work it out. When a fighter marries a flyer, disappointment is inevitable. For both members of a marriage, infatuation ends. It always does. The end of infatuation can be the beginning of something more meaningful between the first couple or it can be the time when one or both of the team simply pulls up stakes and runs. If only one member of the marriage runs, the other one is left with an assortment of questions.
“It’s strange how what drives us may abandon us midstream, how what tickles our ears with lies one moment may tell us truths that knock us on our emotional ass the next.
After all, it is an unbelievably real world, with Darwin scribbling his thoughts into books and telling us what monkeys we are. Each of us explores possibility, hungry for sustaining adoration, yet we know enough to render ourselves helpless.
We strive and strain, bellow and believe, we learn, and everything we learn tells us the same thing: life is one great meaningful experience in a meaningless world. Brilliance has many parts, yet each part is incomplete.
We live, heal and attempt to piece together a picture worth the price of our very lives.” ― Christopher Hawke
It Takes Two to Tango, But It Only Takes One to Stop the Dance
When my marriage ended, both people in my marriage had fallen out of infatuation, but I had determined to stay. To be honest, from the moment that I had married, I never even considered ending my marriage. Regardless of whether I was happy, I had married for life. When I realized that there was nothing that I could do to hold things together, I remember thinking, “You’re leaving–I haven’t had a laugh yet.”
When my marriage ended, I did not honestly think that I had lost a great love and joy, but I did feel that I had lost a friend. I felt that after 18 years of marriage and of sharing all kinds of intimacies, I had simply been forgotten.
“…in addition to feeling sick and tired and feverish and nauseated, I also felt forgotten. And there was no easy cure for that.” ― Sarah Thebarge
When my marriage ended, I became extremely depressed and despondent. I remember feeling almost catatonic. For a long time, I was like a shell of my former self.
“The house kept its own time, like the old-fashioned grandfather clock in the living room. People who happened by raised the weights, and as long as the weights were wound, the clock continued ticking away. But with people gone and the weights unattended, whole chunks of time were left to collect in deposits of faded life on the floor.”
― Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase
The people who knowingly and willingly allow themselves to simply abandon another person are a bit like heroin users. Even when they are running from the other person and from any responsibility toward the relationship, they must know that the whole thing will not end well, but something within themselves cannot prevent their leaving. I believe that this is true for people who abandon their marital partners, their children–I believe that this is true for people who abandon anyone else. Yet, like a moth, the ones who abandon are drawn into a flame. The greatest problem with abandonment, however, is that the one who abandons is not the only one who crashes and burns. Like a kamikaze pilot, the one who abandons wipes out everyone in their paths, and there is no way to prevent the wreck.
If you google the term “abandonment issues” you will have more reading material than you can quickly digest. An inordinate number people struggle emotionally because of their having been abandoned. While people are bolting from one relationship to another, they would prefer to believe that there will be no fallout, but statistics defy that fantasy. Marital partners suffer from having been abandoned, and that is sad and wrong. But the even sadder truth is that the entire course of a child’s future is derailed when one or both parents decide that they need to leave. This is not something that happens occasionally. It is the rule, rather than the exception.
The other day, I wrote a post saying that people need to wait for marriage. In that post, I said that before people marry, they need to wait until they know and respect themselves. Another reason for waiting to marry is that many problems can be avoided if people allow the glitter to settle before they tie the knot.
©Jacki Kellum May 4, 2016