I’ve heard variations of this story three times over the last month.
About three weeks ago, a friend told me he was taking a vacation to relax. I asked where he and his wife were going.
“Are you kidding?” he asked. “That would defeat the whole purpose. I can’t be myself around her. Me and some guy friends are going to Colorado.”
Another situation was a wife who admitted she can’t wait for her husband to leave town every time he goes on a business trip. The third was a guy going on a family vacation — with his parents and siblings — and leaving his wife behind, by mutual choice, because they don’t enjoy each other’s company anymore.
I sometimes hear people say it can be healthy to spend time away from a spouse. I’m not sure I agree that it’s ever positive, but I’m certain it’s negative if you’re doing it because you simply can’t stand to spend time with the person you married.
If you need a vacation from your spouse, that’s a sign of something disturbing. Maybe you’re married to the wrong person.
I know that people can have “successful” marriages that look very different. I just know that the patterns I see from other people don’t look anything like what I want.
You see, I want to be married to someone who wants to spend time with me, not someone who looks for opportunities to be away from me. I want to be married to someone whose company and presence I enjoy — someone who I will be eager to spend time with as much as possible.
I want a family in which we like each other and work hard at growing together in ways that make us want to be together more often, not ways that make us want to leave each other behind as soon as possible.
Most of the marriages I see are very toxic, both in big ways and small ways. A lot of people accept that as normal for a marriage, especially after two people have known each other for a few years, but I think that is a very dysfunctional attitude.
It’s possible for two people to think they love each other — and to be infatuated with the idea of one another — but never really like the other on a deeper level. What’s more, some relationships are so shallow — so devoid of deeper substance — that the two people don’t even know how much they dislike each other until they’ve been together long enough to feel trapped in a cage.
I want a real partnership, not a cage in which I’m trapped with someone who doesn’t like me.
A lot of the marriages I see should have never happened. What’s more, most of the people I know who get married aren’t emotionally healthy enough to marry anybody. If you’re not emotionally functional enough — and if your spouse isn’t emotionally functional enough — it doesn’t matter how well things start. The relationship will end badly.
The guy who was going to Colorado to ski with friends came back a few days ago. He told me enough about the trip for me to know he’s still an overgrown child in the emotional sense. People like that aren’t going to be happy with anybody — and they’re not going to make anybody happy — because they care about nothing but their own gratification.
People like that — whether it’s you or your spouse — will leave a trail of hurting people behind you. Broken relationships and divorces can be bad things, but dysfunctional togetherness is another kind of danger and misery which is far worse.
Sometimes you have to fix yourself — and then start all over somewhere else.
Of course, if you move on without fixing your issues — and without learning to mate with an emotionally healthy person — you’ll make the same mistakes all over again. It’s your choice.