By Lindy Earl
It’s a funny question, isn’t it? Of course a broken bike doesn’t fix itself. It doesn’t know it’s broken. A bicycle is an inanimate object.
So, can a relationship, also an inanimate thing, fix itself? Of course not. Too often, not only does the relationship have no idea that it’s broken, but the people in the relationship don’t realize the state of the relationship.
You may have been happy in your last relationship, whether it was a marriage or a committed couple. I know a guy who had no idea that his marriage was in peril, despite the fact that most of his small town was aware of his wife’s affair. He thought he was happily married, happy in his work, happy in life . . . until the day he learned that he wasn’t.
A relationship, maybe a marriage, cannot fix itself. It can’t tell you its problems – the late nights at work, failure to call, distraction with kids or causes or hobbies, financial stress, family responsibilities. You may not be able to list all the challenges in your relationship. This is just life, right?
I was taught that marriage takes hard work. So I worked. I thought that was a normal marriage. I didn’t talk about it much. I wasn’t being a martyr. I was just being married and with exactly one marriage, I didn’t know anything different.
Could I have fixed it along the way? I don’t know. Maybe. If the challenge was financial, then yes. I am really good with money, but if we had worked together, with the knowledge that money was an issue, it could have been improved. If the problem was sex, how cliché, but if so, then yes, we could have worked together on it and improved the situation. What if we had identified the problem as poor communication? Then yes, I can fix that!
What I couldn’t fix, by the time the divorce was in the works, was what was left of the marriage. I told my now ex that I didn’t want to divorce. I asked him what was wrong and was told, “I’m just done.” I can’t fix that! I don’t even know what that means. He’s done with me? The kids? Obviously the marriage. But how do I fix “I’m just done”?
I believe that some people do not want to fix their marriage or relationship, they just want out and to start over somewhere else, or maybe they already have begun a new relationship, so just need to be out. Okay. You can’t fix that bicycle. Let it go.
If you do want to fix your bike, then learn specifically what the issues are. There is no reason to replace the tires if the problem is in the handlebars and steering. Dig deeply and really talk about what you want and what they want and what you both need.
For instance, I needed, really needed, to hear the words, I love you, every day. Yep. That was a need. I felt incredibly insecure after more than 20 years in the marriage. While he agreed to say it, he never did. I was willing to give up this need, but I shouldn’t have. I could have claimed it was just a want, that I didn’t need the affirmation, but now I realize why it was a need – because there wasn’t any love there. I was asking for something that he couldn’t give. Wow. An unfixable problem.
But, if your problem is correctable – more time together, spending less money, time away from kids, more sex, extended family issues, whatever – then fix it! Talk about it. Put it all out on the table, and decide how you will both make reparations.
Realize that a repaired bicycle may be wobbly at first, but it may be stronger than it originally was. There is hope!
Of course, the best method would be to maintain the bicycle from the beginning so that it never needs any actual repairs. Don’t wait for a flat tire or poor steering. Make sure that everything is good and everyone is happy on a regular basis. Proper maintenance avoids a plethora of problems and is far better than dealing with issues after they happen.
If, however, you had to give up your first bike, because of insurmountable problems, then be careful when choosing your next bike. Be aware of what issues the first bicycle had and steer clear of them! Do not automatically grab the same style. Now is the time to test drive a few models. You may find that, while you were once a 10-speed, faster is better kind of rider, you may now enjoy a tandem. More working together and arriving at the same place at the same time.
Bicycles do not fix themselves. Neither do relationships. Like anything else, you need to decipher where the challenges lie and make efforts to correct them. Looking back, I would prefer to keep the same bike forever. It’s possible, next time.
That’s Life After Divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. Contact her at Ask@LindySpeaks.com to submit a question for her Advice Column or find her on Face Book and join the group, Single Again: From Devastation to Dating, on FB.