One of the many perks of spending my summers in Spain is running into old acquaintances. Such was the case last night when the elevator I was waiting for opened to reveal two old friends.
After exchanging excited greetings, we found ourselves sharing a bottle of cheap Spanish wine while catching up. We discovered who was pregnant, who had a new grandchild, and sadly, who’d passed away. We found out who tied the knot, remarried, or filed for divorce. While this may sound like a typical gossip fest, I assure you it was not.
Why? Because what started off as a simple exchange of information, deepened into a high order discussion of identifying “the why.”
One minute, one friend was revealing details of her brother’s marital break up, and the next, the other was admitting she’d been in a loveless marriage for twenty years.
Wine glasses were quickly refilled to cover up the awkward silence that ensued. However, the question hanging in the air was, “Why?” The friend in question did not have an answer.
The conversation that followed was so interesting, my friends have allowed me to share our results. But first, I should point out that our first question was, how different is staying with someone in a loveless marriage from an actual divorce? The answer is, not much.
We identified that in both cases, the individuals have become distant; estranged. They no longer share common interests and exchanges of affection are either rare or nonexistent.
Conversation is limited to current events, the weather, and the daily conundrum.
They never make time for one another and everything else always takes precedence.
Romantic, intimate moments, and sex are just a hazy memory. They claim to be busy, tired, or stressed. One has a headache, the other has to get up early the next morning.
Time continues to pass. One year turns into five, then into ten, and before long, they’ve spent two decades in the company of someone who is nothing more than a roommate.
You’d think all things considered, they wouldn’t want to spend a moment in each other’s company, let alone a lifetime. Yet together they remain.
Our discussion revealed the typical reasons for this being so: religion, financial difficulties, and the famous, “it’s in the best interest of the children.” However, we wanted to go deeper. Much deeper.
We wanted to discover what had the power to hold two peole hostage and force them to wake up in a state of misery day after day.
We were convinced a justifiable reason existed.
I want to tell you we were successful. I want to tell you we had an “aha” moment, that one of us screamed, “Eureka!”. But alas, such is not the case.
We were more confused at the end of our conversation than when we started. We bid each other farewell, disheartened and frustated.
This morning, an empty coffee cup by my side, I continue to look for answers.
My brain tells me perhaps it’s fear.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of abandonment.
Fear of starting over.
Or perhaps it’s conformity–blind acceptance that this is the hand destiny has dealt.
Or maybe people are just too tired, lazy, or believe themselves unworthy of something or someone better.
I’m certain each case is different. Individuals in these circumstances are sure to have personal reasons for remaining. However, something tells me many, if not all, have one thing in common. They all want to know why.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation, and if so, why do you stay?