For Better or for Worse

Over the past 40 or so years, I’ve learned that I’m not a terribly good judge of character. I’m too nice, really. It’s one of the reasons that I count myself so very lucky to have found (and had the prudence to marry) my husband. He’s a good man. A kind, loving, gentle, and intelligent man. An honest man. A man with integrity.

He is a good judge of character. He can see through someone’s bullshit in an instant, and when he sees a red flag, he distances himself.

When I see a red flag, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Or, rather, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. No more. Oh no, sir. No more.

This last betrayal has hardened me. 

Sure it’s better to avoid poisonous and dangerous people all together, but there are times that we are fooled, taken in. Hindsight is the only true judge. After the dissolution of a relationship, especially an abrupt end, one might be haunted by the unending questions.

Why did it end?

What could I have done differently?

Was it my fault?

If I had only…

Ad nauseam.

Still, there is sure way to tell: are you a better person for having known them?

This exercise can work even if you are still in a relationship, especially if you are questioning it. Look at yourself before the relationship, friendship or romantic, and look at yourself now.

Does this person in your life bring you more joy or pain? Are you more honest or more deceptive? Do you find yourself compromising your morals? Your beliefs? Your very self?

For every smile, are there a thousand tears?

For every moment of joy, are there hours of pain?

For every word of truth, are there pages of lies?

Or is it the opposite? Sure, every relationship will have ups and downs, but we must take care that the joy we bring each other significantly outweighs the pain. Otherwise, we’ll look back at our lives on our death bed and see nothing but pain and tears and lies. Never do I want to be in a position where I regret my entire life. What a waste.

I have a hard time letting go of people who meant a lot to me, whether or not they were good to me or good for me. I loved them just the same, but I had a epiphany. When I’d remember the smiles, the laughter, and the feelings of joy and desire, it was always the same moments over and over again. Because they were just fleeting moments of joy. The bulk of the time was crippling pain. The laughter that filled my soul with hope was drown out by the deluge of tears. And the lies, don’t even get me started.

On the other hand, when I think of the last 12 years with my husband, it’s the opposite. Sure there have been fights and tears and pain and even lies, near the beginning; but the daily joy and love and care greatly outweighs all of that. I know I am a better person for having known my husband, and he is a better person for having known me. We complement each other, care for each other, and support each other. For every tear there has been months of laughter and love and care. That’s the ratio you want in a relationship.

Examine the people in your life. If they are poison, cut them loose.

Without mercy. Cut them loose.

Then begin repairing what they have damaged and find a good person with whom to share your life. They’re out there. I’ve recently found a group of friends that have reminded me what it’s supposed to be like. Mutual respect. Mutual admiration. Mutual inspiration. Mutual support.

Being nice is one thing, but don’t allow someone to feed off your good nature, to drain you until the emptiness engulfs you. Protect yourself. You are so worth it.

-_Q

Has there been someone in your life that fooled you for a given time? Were there red flags you chose to ignore? Why do you think you ignored them?

~ by omgrey on May 4, 2011.

17 Responses to “For Better or for Worse”

  1. Your point about watching the ratio (of joy to pain) is a good one. I too am blessed with a husband who completes the circle but your comments can be applied so readily to some friendships I’ve had. Thanks for a great post.

  2. I’m not the best judge of character when it comes to partners either. I had a bad run until I met my husband. He is like a psychic when it comes to what people will eventually do.

  3. I think that’s a very good insight–that you were remembering only fleeting moments of happiness, and the same ones, over and over with some people. Maybe as a way to convince yourself to stay around them? And yes, joy should definitely outweigh the pain! There’s often been too much pain already. I’m so glad you have a husband who you trust, feel good with, and who brings you joy!

    • I am very fortunate to have him, and I’m thankful every day.

      Perhaps as a way to convince yourself to stay around them. I read a perfect line in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale yesterday, and it hit home. “How easy it is to invent a humanity, for anyone at all.” And for the monster who was recently in my life, I think I have a difficult time believing anyone is pure monster, so I create humanity around little morsels of kindness and joy. Of course, people can be pure monster and those morsels of kindness and joy can just be part of the mask.

  4. Everything you’ve said I honestly believe and have experienced. In particular, with devastating clarity through my wife’s eyes. She was in a relationship with another lady for several months who lied over and over to her again about being suicidal, other peoples words, and all around twisted and manipulate her in every-way should could, yet did in such a way that it seemed she simply needed help and care through a hard time.

    Sadly by the time my wife cut here out of her life, the devastation had been done. My wife and I have always had a strong marriage, always talked to each other, and trust and support each other without question. But when this lady admitted she had never been suicidal, and the how much she manipulated my wife became clear it destroyed most of the trust she had in others. Looking back on it, it is quite clear that the tears far outweighed the smiles, and is something I wish we had cut loose from long before we did.

    Yet, together we made it through, and I know in our relationship that the happiness we have far outshines the minor arguments and disagreements we sometimes face.

    I haven’t posted before, but I appreciate how honest you are in your blog, not many people are willing to do that.

    Cheers!

    • Thank you for commenting, Xela. I can relate. I wish I had cut my ex out sooner, too. Manipulation and abuse like that cuts very deep indeed, especially when you discover it’s your kind and loving nature that allowed it in so deep. Only wanting to help. Giving the benefit of the doubt.

      I’m so pleased to hear your have each other and your marriage is strong. That truly makes all the difference in the world.

  5. I had a share of friends who treated me horribly and lied about me behind my back. The last one it happened with really hurt, because it was so interpersonal and I really loved him.

    I’m so glad I’ve found my best friend, she’s such a wonderfully beautiful and rational person. In the four years we’ve been friends she’s never once lied, been horrible to me, or even spread a rumor about me. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

    Romantically, I don’t have an issue with liars, just guys who act like whiny, 13 year old girls. I’ve mostly been the guy in the relationship.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your group of nonfriends. Somehow being betrayed by a friend is almost worse than being betrayed by a lover, unless the lover was a dear friend first (or became your best friend), then it’s absolutely devastating. As long as I live, I’ll never understand why people lie and deceive and treat others so horribly, especially those they claim to care about.

      Glad to hear you have a friend you can trust now. That is truly priceless, and far too difficult to find.

  6. I pride myself on being a good judge of character. Which makes my current predicament difficult to understand. I’m married to a woman who buries the needle on my unhappiness meter on a daily basis. I think she exists for the sole purpose of being unhappy. Maybe I married her in order to save her from unhappiness. But after 13 years I have realized its a futile task. The only thing is the next step. I’m lucky to have a large group of true friends and supporters.

    Enough about me, this is important. Life is far too short to become tangled up in misery. If the situation is not working and you can;t fix it. Change it. Don;t go through life having someone else make you miserable, it grinds away your soul.

    • Some people just can’t get out from under their unhappiness. I’m so sorry to hear about this.😦

      And I wholeheartedly agree, life is too short to be unhappy. If one is not happy in their relationship, then change it or get out of it. If there are children involved, by all means don’t stay together for the children. They know what’s going on, and the alternative is not worse than growing up in a loveless or affectionless home. Kids pick up on that, and worse, they’re learning from it. As Dr. Phil says, “it’s better to be from a broken home than to live in one.”

  7. I’m going to get out. Mine is just going to take a little time and allot of effort. Don’t worry about me luv, the cogs are turning.

    • Good for you. I’ve know people who wait in an unhappy relationship for years. It ultimately ends. And after the grief, they find people they are better suited for. It’s essential to find the courage to be happy….and to allow them to be happy, too.

  8. I worked in an industry for 10 years. it no longer exists. I went back to school at 40. (I still feel 20 ::wink:: ) and as soon as I’m finished I’m out. Neither one of us can afford to live alone right now. And I need to be able to support my daughter. Soon. very soon.

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  10. How do you find decent ones? Most people go frm abusive relationship and upbringing to more abuse. The hurt makes them a mark. Red flags. Answer: yes. Red flag is a bf gf who gets drunk often yet many accept this and marry the person! Worst. Hell. Ever. BEING with an alcoholic. I speak frm experience. Most newlyweds are in la la land fantasy world where they unrealistically think THEY Are going to have perfection, so it was good to hear you express your early marriage part. When people get married, i just wait 1-5 maybe 10 or 15 years for them to realize facts I saw pre-marriage. Heaven forbid I TELL them that during engagement when theyre gushing irrationally , lest I be labeled negative or other things! Not negative, just real, baby.

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