Sunday, February 3, 2008

Under the Carpet

A friend with a 20 something daughter married about a year confessed to me this week that her daughter is on the brink of divorce and how sad it is. She went on to talk about the beautiful wedding she had on a lakefront, surrounded by loving friends and family, and how much time and effort had gone into to planning it. Not to mention the considerable expense. A gorgeous wedding gown. Glorious food. You name it. Followed up by a 10 day European honeymoon. It was a day and time in their young lives full of hope and promise. Yet, for those who really knew the couple, their relationship and courtship had been one with an undercurrent of volatility.

There was a lot of love between them, but these were two strong-willed, somewhat freewheeling people coming together, yet not curbing their damaging ways. They enjoyed eachother and shared impressive spending habits (and debt), but that wasn't the major problem. One of their challenges was that both were, in fact, somewhat immature in terms of what a marriage requires. And, more importantly, there was abuse on the part of each. One relied on many meds for depression and sleeplessness, and the other was a gambler and perennial drinker.

After attempting marriage counseling, they have reached the conclusion it's best to split up before too much time passes. Hopefully, each will now focus on their respective personal challenges, and be stronger and more knowing for future relationships. It is unfortunate that it took this breakup for them to acknowledge their out of control behavior.

This led me to think about the notion of burying something under the carpet. Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you are dating someone and really care for them, yet there is something that you continually overlook? Do they drink more than you think they should? Do they have other habits that are not healthful? Are they a happy person? Do they realize it, or resent it if you try to help or discuss it? Or, do you not discuss it because you feel it's not an issue? Might YOU be in denial? Or perhaps honestly unaware of how the problem might escalate overtime? Maybe it doesn't seem big now, but what happens if it continues? Do others close to you try to talk to you about it, but you feel they're overreacting?

Trust me. The situation will not go away on its own. If you have a concern now (or others do), it will only get worse as time goes on, if the person doesn't want to change. You can't be someone's savior if they are unwilling or unknowing. You can try, but what about you? How long can you keep it up? It's not your job, and shouldn't become your life's mission.

This makes me think of actor Heath Ledger who we just lost at such a young age. A beloved father of a two year old, and ex-fiance of someone who adored him. Toxicology reports have yet to come in, but the press has reported challenges with drugs in the past. What a shame! I have to believe that those around him tried to help. He was actually referred to as a "mensch" by a friend, as quoted in a NY newspaper. But, sadly, a troubled mensch, at that.

So....I urge you not to slide something under the rug. If you are in a relationship or contemplating entering one, or taking an exsiting love to a more serious level, be sure to proceed with your eyes wide open. Don't be fooled if the person makes light of what you see as a potential problem. And, don't not take note if someone who cares about you tries to open your eyes. Take heart, and listen, even if it hurts. Sometimes they know better because we are so close to a situation and person. Your relationship will suffer in the end if concerns are swept away without being tackled, and you deserve better.

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