There’s No Beauty in the Breakdown

A "healthy" relationship?

A “healthy” relationship?

Your voice was overbearing, like a thousand waves crashing down upon me. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stand to hear the words you were saying. The pain in my heart and my stomach – it filled me up, and the only way to let it all go was to cry. To sob. It’s amazing the capability we as human beings have to feel and manage (and sometimes not manage) our emotions. I felt sadness, anger, hurt, all at once. I kept trying to preach that psychology bullshit to myself – regulate yourself, Sam. It wasn’t working. I tried to drown out your voice. Literally. With my tears. That didn’t work either. And when nothing I tried work – reasoning with you – I probably should have guessed this wouldn’t work as you were out of this world drunk off your ass, yelling in return, crying some more – when none of those brilliant ideas worked, I simply took off that promise ring and threw it across the room, hoping it would shatter into a million pieces. Because that’s what you were doing to my heart at that very moment. Breaking it. Shattering it.

Our society romanticizes situations like this. The antics, the over dramatics, the extremes. We are given health education in school, but there is no class that tells us how to do a relationship right, how to make a marriage work. No one ever tells us that to struggle – and to struggle repeatedly – is not normal. Sometimes you might get that with a counselor or a therapist, but even then…I guess there are no guarantees in life, right? Except death and taxes, of course.

The problem is that many of us act this way (I know I have) because we think that to struggle is beautiful. It builds character, right? But you know what’s not beautiful? A toxic relationship. That’s just unhealthy. And it can’t possibly be good for your sanity either. But movies, women’s magazines, and the like have emphasized that the best kind of love is the one that brings the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The one we have to fight for. And many times, fight against. The ideal love is combative, maybe a little unstable, but damn, it’s passionate. That’s what our culture promotes, and that is a sad, sad situation. There are no songs or movies about the stable relationship, about the beauty of normalcy, and how wonderful it is to have someone you can just be with. Taylor Swift sings about how she misses “screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain” with a former manfriend while The Notebook describes Noah and Allie as two people that “didn’t agree on much. In fact, they didn’t agree on anything. They fought all the time and challenged each other every day.” And the two things I just mentioned happen to be a part of the mainstream media, meaning they have large audiences, and plenty of tweens, young adults, and full on grown ups, taking these words to heart. The stability and normalcy sometimes come in the last five minutes of a movie, and that’s known as “they lived happily ever after.” That ideal picture isn’t realistic, either, mind you. It is normal to fight, to disagree, to argue, to struggle – but not to do these things repeatedly. It’s not normal to have this be the condition of the relationship.

But it is the condition for a lot of relationships. We simply navigate through the fights and the yelling and the slamming of doors and the breaking of glass picture frames, and hope to momentarily land on some strip of happiness. We see the passion amidst fleeting moments of happiness, and continue to believe that these extreme situations are the best kind of love. The ultimate romance. The person we are destined to be with because we can’t breathe without them right? It’s fairly easy to overdramaticize love because we as a society get off on it. Who doesn’t love how Noah and Allie finally reconnect under the pouring train? Who didn’t cry when Ross was on his knees with his arms wrapped around Rachel, begging her to make the relationship work? Who wasn’t yelling at Dexter and telling him to quit being an ass and get his shit together and be with Emma? And don’t even get me started on Jenny. You should have let her go a long time ago, Forrest.

What I’m saying is that the toxicity is ingrained in our culture. And it’s been there for decades upon decades now – maybe that’s why the divorce rate is so high in this country? Our mainstream media have been our only “life lessons” about how to do relationships right. There’s no logical rationale behind any of it – all we know is that we seek passion and we seek the romantic love. And how do we get there? There needs to be earth shattering struggles, we need to feel like we can’t breathe both in happiness and sadness, we need to live up to the hype. Otherwise, what’s the point? We can never, ever settle until we find the ultimate, the absolute.

But if we strip away all of the hype, maybe we can see that this type of situation – this kind of love – is realistically unrealistic. The movies and songs and television shows only go through the highlights and the lowlights – they don’t tell us of what happens behind the closed doors. That once the fight becomes the condition, all you’re left with are the quiet silences, the tangible distance that can be felt even when you’re in the same room with the other person, and the never-ending tension that can only cease to exist once a healthy relationship built on honesty and communication is established.

Believe me, from personal experience and from tapping into the logical side of my brain, you can have that romantic love without the continuous struggle. You can still have that hot, passionate sex in the rain kind of lovemaking without the incessant yelling. Without the breaking of plates, hearts, and souls. A relationship can be beautiful – it is beautiful – with just the little things. Having someone cook you egg whites in the morning, settling in for a Saturday night with blankets and Netflix, knowing someone is there to soap your back in the shower. And sprinkle – not pile – a few arguments in here and there. That’s beautiful. That’s wonderful. That’s what a relationship should be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: