The Relationship Archives

Maybe I Should’ve Tried Harder & Other Anti-Love Stories

Warning. This is not inspirational at all. In fact, it’s controversial and you may completely disagree with me.

OR I might make you say, “EXACTLY! That’s what I’ve been thinking.”

I’m writing this post for the second person…and for myself.

**

First, there’s this story about a love letter Brad Pitt wrote to Angelina Jolie being shared around social media sites. It’s a lovely story about how Angelina was feeling really low, she was depressed and sleeping all the time. She didn’t seem to love herself anymore.

http://couplesandco.blogspot.com/2013/12/i-lost-hope-and-thought-that-well-get.html

What did Brad do? Well, of course, he showered her with more love. He spoke highly of her wherever he went, he paid her lots of attention, and he told her constantly how much he loved her.

And she came right out of her funk and loved him back with all she had. They lived happily ever after. 😉

[Not to ruin this love story, but according to one website, this letter didn’t actually exist.]

So, there’s this story, plus some other quotes floating around the Internet. They give a clear message to anyone in a troubled marriage:

Try harder. Don’t give up. If it’s broken, fix it. Pour all of your love into it.
That’s the key to a lasting marriage.

And here’s my argument.

Sometimes someone’s lows go deeper. Often, you can’t fix this, hard as you try.

You put every effort into making things fit, you try changing yourself, and finally, you decide all that’s left to do is to tiptoe around quietly, trying to stay out of their way.

You can’t fix another person with all the love in the world.

(Yes, if the issue is a lack of love and affection in your relationship, a little kindness and compassion can, and should, go a long way. A marriage isn’t a union to be taken lightly.)

But, if this depression and anxiety is brought on by something deeper, something that’s never been addressed or healed, a missing piece in this person’s life (or an addiction), no amount of  your care is going to change it.

Showering someone with love when they have deeper-seeded issues isn’t a duty of love and marriage, it’s codependency. And it doesn’t work.

Codependency is a type of addiction itself, in which you become obsessed with trying to fix your significant other with your care taking.

{Not sure if your problems are normal relationship problems or codependency? Read more here. I was searching for this answer for years. When I finally realized I was in a cookie-cutter codependent relationship, I also finally realized why trying harder wasn’t working for us.}

It’s as if your partner is already holding the sinking anchor, and you’ve grabbed the rope. It sucks both of you in, makes you both depressed and anxious, all the while dragging you toward the bottom as you grasp desperately with every ounce of energy at the water surrounding you.

When this happens, the answer isn’t to dive in deeper.

The answer is the opposite. One of you has to detach and force your partner to face the reality of their addiction or anxiety.

They absolutely must have the desire and the capacity to change for themselves. They’ll never do it for you or because of you, and that has nothing to do with how much they love you.

(Because you love each other very much, or you wouldn’t have made the choice to enter the rest of your life with this person.) This is for the naysayers. I don’t have to tell you about love.

{Dislike.}

None of us has any idea what cards we’ll be dealt.

People in abusive, explosive, unhealthy, dishonest relationships who have tried painstakingly to make things work shouldn’t feel as if the answer is to work harder.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t put your absolute all into your marriage- because you should.

I’m saying if you’ve put your all in, and you’re exhausted from trying to change deep issues that won’t budge, and you know in your heart something’s still not right, don’t let these quotes bring you down.

Make your decisions for you, not based on viral, judgmental Facebook posts.

If the issues you’re dealing with are beyond normal marital problems and have transformed into unhealthy or abusive, further attachment won’t help.

Detach and heal yourselves. If it’s right, you’ll come back together as two healthy, whole individuals complimenting one another.

**

And detachment doesn’t always mean divorce. I believe you can work through addiction and codependency with the right tools, understanding, and commitment from both parties. In these cases, though, love isn’t enough.

I stumbled across this amazingly honest story about a love that worked through addiction and deep issues. It’s a long read because, of course, the fix wasn’t as easy as giving more love. But, the end result is worth it, and the struggle is relatable.

http://www.vintagerevivals.com/my-real-life-story

PS: I found Mandi’s blog while searching for a sugar cookie recipe. It’s one of the only recipes she has on her blog, it’s actually a vintage furniture DIY site, which is right up my alley. So, instead of clicking away or leaving to make my cookies, I searched around, reading her blog, and I found the story of her marriage, which taught me so much about my own. How’s that for fate?

If you’re interested in finding out more about codependency, I highly recommend Melody Beattie’s books, especially the daily meditations. They’ve gotten me through some difficult days.

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