Written by Evi Idoghor
I've been thinking a lot about why relationships fail lately, and one of the reasons that came to mind was a lack of devotion. Relationships come with a lot of vulnerabilities, assuming you meet the right kind of person, who isn't hiding behind a mask or putting up a front. However, sometimes people put their best foot forward and forget that there are other aspects of themselves that must also be shared. When one person relaxes their guard, the other realizes, "This is not what I signed up for," and begins to plan their exit strategy.
You, on the other hand, will notice that communication is no longer as frequent, calls to spend time together are drastically reduced, and even when you are in their presence, it is as if they are not really there. Then a slew of thoughts race through your head: did I say too much? Maybe I shouldn't have cried in that restaurant, or maybe I should have handled the situation differently and not taken it personally.
The truth is that we all carry wounds that we are sometimes unaware of. And it takes a close relationship (sometimes a romantic one) to expose how deep our wounds are. My ex and I went out to eat at a restaurant one day. We hadn't even been out for 20 minutes when he asked me why I was so moody, and I burst into tears. In public, I embarrassed myself. I quickly lowered my head to hide my emotional outburst before causing a scene, while he held my hand and waited for me to stop crying. That incident left him speechless.
What was the source of my tears? Earlier in the day, he had spoken to me in a way that revealed a wound within me that I had been burying for the past eight years. So, eight years ago, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship in which the person controlled me and spoke down at me. His words made me feel small and destroyed my self-esteem - I had none left. Fast forward to my last relationship, there were certain things he would say that would set me off because it was something my ex of eight years ago used to do, and it would cause some kind of pain in me.
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If you know me, you know that I despise any form of conflict or confrontation, and I try to live my life as peacefully as possible. As a result, rather than speaking up when someone does something I don't like, I tend to internalize it. Thus, I had a nervous breakdown at the restaurant that night. So, he asked what was wrong, and I was able to tell him - this is how I felt in my previous relationship, I think I am seeing some signs here, and it is not pretty. He apologized, and we were able to move on from the incident. He stopped saying those things which bothered me from that day forward.
However, my occasional emotional breakdowns over other issues may have contributed to the demise our relationship. Being in as many relationships as I had resulted in a plethora of wounds of varying severity. And as humans, we tend to carry these wounds from one relationship to the next. When we finally settle into another relationship, hoping that this is it, and we show our significant other our wounds (the wounds may not necessarily be from romantic relationships, but may be from family, work, or even church) some people flee.
We all have baggage, wounds, and pain within us, and most of the time we think we've dealt with them, not realizing that we've just gotten so good at masking our pain with other life experiences. However, it takes a close relationship to bring to light the fact that we are still hurting.
What true commitment looks like
I came across this gem of a movie from the 1990s called Shattering the Silence. I'm not sure what it is about me and YouTube and old school movies these days. The main character in this film was molested as a child by her father, and she carried this baggage into her marriage. When she had a child, memories from her childhood began to haunt her. Her husband tried numerous times to figure out what was wrong, but she kept pushing him away.
She even lost the attachment that new mothers have to their babies and decided to cut her maternity leave short so she could work. "I don't think you're ready to go back to work," her husband said. "Don't you dare tell me what to do!" she yelled at him. "I'm not telling you; I'm begging you," he replied. She was unwavering. He was then forced to take time off work to care for their child until they could find a nanny.
In all of these, he remained steadfast, committed, and devoted. He never threatened her with divorce, he was present every day, he showed up for her and their child, and he was patient in the face of adversity. He was patient with her as she relived the horrors of her childhood abuse, until she was ready to share her pain with him, which led to her seeking the help she required. Now, if that isn’t devotion, I don’t know what else is.
Why I think my relationship failed
So, in my dating experience (aside from abuse), it is a lack of commitment and devotion that causes relationships to fail. When someone shows you their vulnerability - I am not perfect, I am wounded - I believe the appropriate response is, "How can I help?" However, when you've tried everything and the person and/or relationship still don't improve, you can walk away - you're not married.
But if you don't try to help that person heal and simply leave, the next person you meet will come with their own wounds. So, as the Bible teaches, we should learn to make allowances for each other's flaws - learn to forgive, learn to be patient. Compared to when you threaten the other person with a breakup in every little thing.
I was with someone who would occasionally ask me, so what happens if I break up with you? There was another instant when we had an issue, got over it, and he said to me, I was thinking of breaking up with you when that happened. That made me realize that the person was not ready for commitment, and I wondered if this is how he would threaten to leave our marriage if problems arose.
If you continue to threaten to leave someone over trivial issues, you are not mature enough for a lifelong relationship like marriage, because issues, deeper issues, will arise that will rock your boat. I am the type of person who, once I have committed myself to you, is willing to go to any length to see our relationship thrive.
Related Post: 10 Lessons I Learned from my Failed Relationship
In situations where the issue is a fundamental problem, such as sexual sin or lack of belief in Christ (if you are a Christian), the chances of it turning around (especially when the other individual isn't willing) are very slim. It is best to accept your lot and walk away. It's still painful, but it's absolutely necessary.
Another sign of a lack of commitment is when your significant other is unwilling to give up all others and devote themselves solely to you. Their eyes are constantly wandering, as if they believe there is something better out there. Commitment or devotion is choosing to focus on the one you have chosen even though there may be “something better” out there.
Many men appear to have a problem with this, which is when you start hearing statements like - men are not monogamous by nature. No, your issue is not monogamy or it's absence, what you lack is self-control.
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For Further Reading
10 Lessons I Learned from my Failed Relationship
Twists and Thorns 1: The Back Story
An Honest Conversation About Sex
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Images used in this article are courtesy of Unsplash