Dear Assy (Because Dear Abby Was Taken)

For some reason, people feel compelled to come to me for relationship advice. That, or they confide in me their relationship troubles and I feel compelled to share advice or experiences. Anyone who has been with this blog from the beginning will surely know that I am in no way an expert on making a relationship work. Nonetheless, Robert and I have had several years together (albeit rocky and disjointed years at times), so perhaps I can in some ways be a voice of experience, if for no better reason than to serve as a cautionary tale or for no worse reason than to serve as a success story in progress.

At any rate, I have seen so many other people’s relationships head southward during my 25 years. Sometimes breakups are amicable, other times they are horrific. Sometimes one can truly say, “No one was at fault.” Other times, one or both of the people involved truly is to blame.

This year, a family member wound up in jail due to domestic abuse and an apparent spousal rape charge. There were also accusations of physical child abuse on their infant, though I don’t think charges were filed for that. I was torn between wanting to not believe this person could be so violent, and wanting to support the alleged victim in her time of need. As time has gone by, I have heard discouraging testimony from others along the line of the victim not being quite so innocent, and perhaps actually being antagonistic and manipulative after the fact. It is bad, of course, to blame a victim for being victimized, but it is not unheard of for a person to exaggerate or even fabricate the details of crimes against themselves. I’m not sure what to believe at this point, but I wish that I could stuff the both of them into a time machine and send them back to whatever point in their relationship where things were starting to sour. Maybe they could sit down and figure out problems ahead of time?

Another family member is going through marital troubles with unavoidable geographical distance being a factor in their marriage, although not the only problem-creating factor. The spouse confides in me from time to time. I am not sure if I am supposed to be offering advice, or just be there as a shoulder and open ear. I have given advice, which I’m not sure whether or not it was taken, and all I can do is hope that whatever is meant to happen happens and that they are happy with the outcome.

I’m being vague about the people involved in the above two scenarios because, while I’ve no issues with sharing the gruesome details of my own life, I don’t know if it is okay to share their details. Some people don’t seem to mind, but others might get upset.

When I was visiting with her in Texas a while back, my husband’s grandmother mentioned that she felt people these days can get out of a marriage too easily. In many ways, I am inclined to agree with her. Is there really any right answer for when is a good time to end a relationship? I once thought I had my lines clearly drawn in the proverbial sands. “I will NOT stay with a person another second if they…” And yet…

But there is one good piece of advice that, if nothing else, serves to help provide peace of mind and a good starting point for figure out where your own lines are drawn. I’m not always 100% happy in my own marriage, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Anyone who says their relationship is perfect is either delusional or lying. But, you make a list. If the bad outweigh’s the good, you bolt. Good outweighs the bad, it might be worth working for. It helps to sit down and think about what’s in common (interests, goals, dreams, agendas) and what you love about them, and what mutual memories you have.

Garth Brooks–The reasons that I can’t stay don’t have a thing to do with being in love, and I understand that lovin’ a man shouldn’t have to be this rough. You ain’t the only one who feels like this world left you far behind. I don’t know why you gotta be angry all the time.

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