Live and learn, or crash and burn.
The whole problem with marriage is that you have to staple your heart and your soul and your face to another person. You say your vows — at the big ceremony, down at the courthouse — wherever; it doesn't matter.
You say your vows and he or she says theirs and then you walk out into the sunshine or the driving rain and immediately everything you thought you knew about the two of you starts altering —radically.
There's a measure of security that comes along with getting hitched. But it's a false flag. And that's why people end up breaking apart the thing that once made them happier than anything. We get blindsided by change. We get tricked by the oldest trick in the book.
People f*cking change, man. They just do. And what we failed to realize back when we were smitten with our partner and couldn't imagine that we would ever part is this: We fell in love, not only with a living breathing person, but with a moment in time. We fall in love with a snapshot of today that swiftly becomes yesterday. We fall in love with a beautiful idea of safe harbors and steady skies.
We fall in love, you see, with a load of bullsh*t.
In order to maintain love and keep it alive and nurture it along down the years until some kind of death sequence puts an end to the thing, you have to do one of two things: You have to really really give a damn or you have to give zero f*cks at all. Both are devastatingly difficult courses despite their differences.
In the first case, you enter into a love affair with a paramount mind. You're wise beyond your years, able to allow your heart the wiggle room it needs whenever your own insecurities and neediness tries to jolt you down some wrong path.
To be the sort of wife or husband that consistently pays great heed to the whims of their partner, or to their dreams, or to their moods, or even to their need to be away from your ass for certain amounts of time — to breathe/to think/to be — you have to either be too emotionally advanced for this world or you have to be, quite frankly, the greatest catch of your era.
The second case, which is waaaaay more popular and common than the first, but no less challenging (in fact, perhaps even more challenging), requires a person to fall in love, get married, and then before long, shift over to survival mode. Chances are very good that you already know exactly what I'm talking about here.
We begin to find it hard to wrap our own heads around our partner's change as the years roll by. (Of course, we make every excuse in the book for our own change. That's easy. It's us. We're easy to get along with and understand. But this one over here? Sheesh.)
He or she baffles you. You end up thinking to yourself, "I don't even KNOW that person anymore." And as such, you find ways to survive their ridiculousness. You let their words slide out the side of your head. You smile at them less. You hear them less. You tolerate them, hold their hand in church or at the dinner party or wherever for appearance's sake.
You still LOVE them, of course, but it's different. It's complicated. They're not who you thought they were. And you didn't deserve that kind of curveball.
So you stay because leaving would be a pain in the balls: The kids, the house, the bills, mutual friends. It's easier to pretend. Is that a jaded perspective? I'm sorry if you think it is... NOT. It's the truth and you know it.
We mess everything up because we are so caught up in our own heads. Back on that wedding day, we promised the person we loved that no matter what, no matter how much they changed or what stages of life they moved through, we'd always be there to support them. Then we exited the chapel with blinders on, cotton balls in our ears, basically chanting, "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!"
No one is the same person at 45 that they were at 35. No one. It's impossible. And even if you did find a person like that, why the hell would you ever want to be stuck with them forever? It would be like being married to someone who never ages. That would make you insane with rage and jealousy.
Oh sure, there might be a few years when you were 50 and they were 32 when there would be some pretty hot sexual moments (for you, not them), but soon enough everything would get really bizarre. And then straight up gross. She's 32, fit, firm, translucent, spirited. You're 64, jiggly, ashy, soft, and tired.
Why then can't we seem to get it? Why do we fail to let our lovers and spouses and so-called soul mates head-on down whatever trails they need to in life? (And when I say "we," you bastards, I'm obviously really saying "me" but throwing you in the mix out of hope for camaraderie.)
Why do we tend to turn off our ability to be ever-present and super-conscious of their whims and blues and desires and fears? Is it because we're afraid that by changing they will fall out of love with us at some point?
We have to face it: They might leave us. I might leave you. You might leave me. Nothing is written in stone, even when there are actually letters carved into a f*cking stone.
But that's the thing that causes us such resistance to our partner's change, I suspect: We're afraid of change, evolution, new frontiers and we're decimated with aggro-paranoia that we will be left behind.
Love is to blame at first. And then that thing that comes after love that no one has come up with a name for yet, that long period of loving but not always being IN LOVE even though you wish you still were.
Our own fear is to blame for so much of our actual heartbreak. Deep inside of us there lies a living, breathing colony of abandonment issues. From the egotistical to the childish, from the vain to the very real and sincere, we often live out the first part of our love lives with scathing fear overriding our every thought. Unconscious as it may be, we follow an inner voice that questions so much of what our partner is doing, saying, thinking, feeling.
We smother them with our frightened ignorance. They probably smother us with theirs. It's a sh*t show the first time around, marriage is. Not every time, not every marriage, but a lot of them. Mine. Probably yours or the next person who clicks on this thing.
We didn't allow the change to come down. We didn't want change. We wanted security. We wanted to remain wanted. We couldn't fathom even the dimmest prospect of being cut loose. Nothing good ever comes of it.
The strength and wisdom we need to truly be in love, remain in love, and that our partner deserves, married or not, is this feeling of seriously wanting them to change and evolve. For the sake of sanity. For the sake of living a life. For the sake of not looking at us and feeling trapped or leashed or held back.
I guess that's what second marriages are all about then, huh? Live and learn, or crash and burn.