Oh the promises we will make to keep the one we love.
Relationships end for all sorts of reasons. Many end mutually, some just run their course and there is a shared understanding that a parting of ways is inevitable. But what about when the desire to end the relationship is completely one-sided? What happens when the one you love leaves you for another?
Just like that Temptations song, ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,’ I threw out all the stops when my husband delivered the shocking news that he wanted a divorce. I felt this enormous pressure on myself to persuade him of the momentous and disastrous decision he was making. I would try to pull the scales from his eyes about the ‘other woman,’ to make him see that no one could love him as I would. If I could just say or do the right thing, he will stay and this awful nightmare will be over.
I begged my husband to go to counselling with me, to allow others to help us through prayer and guidance, I offered a separation time, for him to have time to think. He refused everything.
When all that failed, I started to make promises. Be Careful…this is where danger lies!
Love does not come with stipulations and conditions. Let’s put that one out there first and foremost. Somehow though, I managed to forget that very important fact and before I knew it, I was desperately promising all sorts in order to convince him to stay with me. I would travel more, I would lose weight, I would shut my eyes to his binge drinking problem, I would forgo having children, I would become more attractive. ‘Tell me what you need me to be…I WILL BE THAT FOR YOU!’
You may well be losing respect for me by the second just reading this but I’m trying to be honest here.
When I look back, I can see that I was acting out of total fear and desperation. I placed the whole responsibility for saving the relationship on my shoulders. My husband had been unfaithful, had discarded of me in the most brutal fashion and there I was begging him to take another chance on me! Placing the focus on me changing. Trying to prove I was worthy. I can see now how absurd it all is but at the time I was acting out of raw instinct.
It is devastating when someone we love leaves us and everything within us resists this heartbreaking change on such a primal level. We go through a withdrawal from the love we have cherished for what might be many years and, as a result, we can become vulnerable to desperation, begging and making promises that we may not be able to keep. It is totally natural to do everything we can to save a relationship and of course, in self-reflection there may be changes needed in the relationship but it should never be one-sided. Especially when you are not the guilty party.
The feeling of loss can be so unbearable that we would literally move heaven and earth not to be in this awful pain. Grief has many stages, one of which is bargaining and it is only natural to want to preserve what has been so important in your life.
I do feel sad when I look back at the pressure I placed upon myself to save our relationship at any cost. I wish I could go back and shake myself into seeing that he didn’t deserve my pleading, my second chances, my desperation.
Not clinging on is often only possible once we are strong enough to let go. I did get to this place in the end, when I took a long hard look at myself and what I had been put through and said, ‘no more.’ We will all reach that point in our own time.
Just be careful. If you find yourself making promises that degrade who you are or compromise your identity, you may find yourself in a relationship that is filled with stipulations which will only erode your self-worth and may lead to further unhappiness for you. You are already in a vulnerable place if your partner has been unfaithful or is considering leaving you. Of course you may want to fight to save the relationship but don’t allow an unhealthy power dynamic to emerge.
You deserve a love which doesn’t come with conditions. That is a love that is truly for worth fighting for.