Lately I’ve received the same email from about twelve completely unrelated people, some male, some female, all riding in the same ship. The ship is called This Relationship is Going Down. I’ve been on that ship a few times, and the ride is awful. It makes you sick enough to find yourself throwing up over the rail, wind whipping your hair back, saltwater and truth stinging your eyes simultaneously. There’s no time to catch your breath, the waves just keep coming, and all you can do is hold on and look for the horizon until you decide it’s time to get in the lifeboat and start rowing.
It’s particularly awful if your kids are on the ship with you, I’ve been there, too. I’ve been there as a kid, watching my own parents’ ship go down, and I’ve been there as a mom. I’ve ridden the ride a few times in between. Never enjoyable. The storm rages when two people fight back the truth. That’s the part that makes everyone sick. I get emails from people who say the passion is gone, they’re living as roommates but maybe it’s okay because of the kids. For some people it might be okay. But if you’re sending me an email, you’re not one of them. Kids know everything. They know everything. They know if you have an email flirtation going on with someone. Not on a conscious level, but underneath. They feel it all. You may believe you’re shielding them from your storm but it’s a lie. They’re on the ship. It’s important to understand that.
Sometimes making a clean break is hard, whether you have kids or you don’t. Adding another person to the mix when your ship is going down with your partner is getting on a lifeboat with a hole in it. You’re going to end up in shark-infested waters, and those sharks will have names. Deceit. Despair. Dishonesty. They’ll sink their sharp teeth right into your heart. I understand if you’re in a desperately unhappy situation it’s very tempting to want to jump on the jet ski of a hot, enticing stranger who really doesn’t know you one iota. Hasn’t been through the mud with you, hasn’t seen you at your worst, doesn’t know your deepest fear or pain or shame or rage. It’s powerful to feel drawn by the pull of hormones and lust and someone who thinks you’re the most amazing person when your partner doesn’t see you anymore. But that’s a very messy way off the ship you’re on, and it will only make the ride worse for you and everyone else.
Deal with your truth, it’s going to out one way or another. If you have children, fight with every single thing you’ve got to save your relationship and right the ship. Get yourself back on course if at all possible. If it isn’t possible, honor the relationship and the fact that your spouse is the other, most important person in your child/ren’s life. But don’t hang onto the rail and keep throwing up. Love is not desperation. It’s not a constant struggle. It’s not ups and downs and pain and anguish and disappointment. It’s not. Not constantly, not always. It takes a tremendous amount of work and desire to steer a ship with another person. Both parties have to be willing and able. It’s okay if one person has to take over for awhile. There are always going to be storms, but in a healthy, loving relationship you and your partner will get busy grabbing buckets and dumping water over the side. You won’t be throwing up by yourself. That’s the beauty in partnership. Love is the most liberating thing there is when it’s pure. Be courageous. Take heart. Set sail if you need to, but make sure your lifeboat doesn’t have a hole in it. Sending you love as I always am, Ally