After more than 10 years in a generally happy union, I recently realised that – like Jon Snow – I knew nothing.
Nothing at all.
I once read that good marriages begin after the first gigantic crisis. When you begin again, in spite of everything, and work to make it through the anger and fear and sadness.
Separately, the wise and inimitable Alain de Botton has said that pessimism offers a solution to a lot of the pressures around relationships. Romanticism is unhelpful, and makes a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling.
Depressing as those two paragraphs may sound, I think they ring with truth.
There are five main things this crisis taught me. Here is what I’ve learned.
Love is a verb
Don’t just tell me you love me; show me through your actions.
So many of our habits and behaviours towards our partners are manipulative
Whether we realise it or not. Awareness is the first step.
Do not tolerate sustained unhappiness in a relationship
Don’t put up with it now, hoping that it will improve eventually, if you have no inkling at all for when that might be. Think about how long you could stick it out if nothing changed – a month? Six months? A year?
Never set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm
There is no glory in martyrdom. This isn’t a social movement; this is your life. Your happiness is what’s at stake.
We are flawed
All of us. So very deeply. This is something we must accept if we are to move forward.
There it is – the best relationship advice I have to give. Have you been through a relationship crisis, and has it taught you anything new?