GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY – Marilyn Armstrong

There are a lot of marriages that stay together and I have no idea why. It’s obvious that the two people don’t love one another. Sometimes, they appear to actually hate each other.

If you get one of them alone, they will give you the usual reason why they are staying together:

      • Children
      • We can’t afford to get a divorce (too poor or too rich)
      • He/she is wacko (and sometimes, he/she really is)
      • We run a business together
      • Religion
      • Drug abuse, gambling, alcoholism or any addiction
      • Fear by one party of the other; abuse is a lot more common than most people realize.

No matter how many ways you point out that there are solutions, they aren’t listening. Sometimes, something happens and one day, the relationship snaps.

The kids grow up. They decide money is less important than they thought and they can run the business, even unmarried. They do some minor religious switching and suddenly divorce is fine.

I always worry most about abused spouses because sometimes, when they snap, a partner dies. They may deserve it, but the killer doesn’t deserve what’s in store for him or her.

It’s not an easy choice, especially when there’s a good chance that if they try to leave, someone else is going to die — the kids or a wife, husband or any combination of the above.

Despite feeling strongly that people living in really bad marriages should do something about it, I grew up as a child in such a marriage. I understand.

I know how ugly the outcome of these divorces can be, especially for children. No how bad your parents are, the alternative can be worse. With all of the studies and statistics on how dreadful foster care is, we have yet to come up with a better solution. When you are a kid, you often feel you have a choice: live with the devil you know or get thrown into life with devils you don’t know who could be worse.

What baffles me more are people who basically have good marriages, but the first time something goes wrong, they are filing papers. I agree, for example, sex outside (monogamous) marriage is uncool.  I’ve heard conversations where everyone agrees that if such a terrible thing should happen in their relationship, all bets are off. It’s the divorce court. No conversation, no forgiveness, no discussion.

Why not?

Given the looseness of pre-marital relationships in this century, is there some reason to assume that this is going to entirely change because you stood up in a church or a registry office and vowed: “Till death do you part”?

Marriage isn’t a vow. It’s a process. It’s not dating. You don’t just hook-up until it stops being fun, then go to your next hook-up.  It’s when things get a little rough that the real marriage begins.

Half the time, the partner would never even know anything happened if the spouse didn’t have some sort of bizarre need to “confess.” I’ve always wondered what the point of that confession is supposed to be. Is it going to improve the marriage? Of course not. I’m sure it’s intended to do exactly what it does: break the relationship up.

You need to be honest? If you needed to be that honest, why did you do it in the first place? Since you’ve already strayed, live with it. Find a priest and confess. Find a shrink and confess. Find a complete stranger on a bus and confess. But leave your mate out of it and move on.

Also, a genuinely committed couple who have built a life should be able to cope with reality and maybe with a degree of dishonesty, too. Life in the real world is not life on television or Hollywood.

I’ve seen couples divorce because one of them was sure he/she could do better. A few do. Most don’t.

It’s not about the wedding or even the honeymoon. It’s working through issues, changing your behavior. Helping your partner change his behavior. It’s helping a partner get sober or quit gambling. It’s sticking with them if they fail. And them sticking with you when life isn’t going well.

Loving them when their hair falls out and they aren’t nearly as cool and dashing as they were 30 years ago … but you still think they are.

You don’t know what kind of relationship you have without the lumps, bumps, twisted ankles, and heart attacks. Without consoling them for lost jobs, broken backs, and twisted feet.

That’s when you know you have something that means more than pretty cakes and chapel bells.

29 thoughts on “GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. A beautiful, wonderful post – those photos of you two are priceless and made me hugely smile. There are so many pro and contra opinions and I think all are valid. I can only say that in my now-marriage there would have been many times I would have gone for a while, if I was just living together. But having made a promise, having to battle for the love and staying and caring enough not to throw the gauntlet….. THAT is commitment. Nobody ever promised anyone a rose garden or everlasting joy and springtime. I just see that marriage still and always will have its place in our society. I’m actively torn between that total commitment (and I don’t even think of breaking the marriage, ‘just’ of being able to call a halt, a pause and a time of reconsideration) and a ‘loose’ union. But the two of you make me truly happy!


  2. Love the photos of the two of you! I have to say, signing on the dotted line changes nothing except legalizing a relationship. I know so many that have used getting married as a deal-breaker. wth? Either your in a committed relationship, working through the ups and downs, or your not. As for the rest, yes, you need to get the hell out if it’s abusive and if said partner won’t agree to get help. Don’t stay in it for the kids because they are learning that living in an abusive relationship is ok. Your partner can hit you beat you do whatever and it’s all ok. So the abuse continues on into the next generation who learned by action not words what was acceptable and the cycle is repeated not broken. I know, easier said than done because the emotional abuse and trauma can be so great and overwhelming, it seems impossible that your life could be better, different and that you ARE a worthwhile individual. That process can take forever and it’s those first baby steps out of the situation that are the hardest.


  3. My husband Stuart grew up in a marriage that stayed together ‘for the kids’. It was a mistake. Stuart’s childhood was peppered with overhearing arguments and abuse, and now they’re not together anyway. So it was all a waste of time and it had a detrimental effect on the children. Madness.
    By the way, those photos of you and Garry are absolutely gorgeous. Now that’s how a marriage should be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. An odd thing I’ve noticed: we know several couples who have lived together for years, no marriage, just good solid relationships. But more than one of those couples decided to get married. Ring, minister, the whole thing. Within three years all of those couples were divorced. One woman told me, “he never told me he loved me.” I said, but he did, and she said, “yes, but he could never say it to me out loud”. I thought, what a whacko reason to divorce someone. She needed to hear the words he couldn’t bring himself to say. Get over it.
    I wonder, if they all had just stayed as they were, they’d still be together. When you live together, it’s easy to get out of the relationship, you pack a bag, and go. He hits you, you leave. She starts drinking, you discuss it, she gets worse, you leave. Whatever. The only thing that keeps you together is that you want to. Once you’re married, the veneer starts to peel, and you feel ‘have to’ rather than “want to” . I think sometimes couples are more careful with each other when they aren’t married, because it’s so easy to leave (in some ways). In a marriage, often the kindnesses and the small thoughtfulnesses sometimes erode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy, that’s an interesting take. After my divorce I was in no hurry to remarry, if ever…. It was HH’s and his family’s wish that we marry. HH (that’s Hero Husband) said, he couldn’t ‘just live with me without getting married’ – I still don’t know why but there we are, 21+ yrs later, still married.
      When I divorced my 1st husband, some of my female friends said to me that they admire me for my decision to go. I told them that it wasn’t a choice. I waited until I couldn’t wait any longer and I told them that they would know when the time (if ever) was right for a divorce: When they couldn’t possibly stay together any longer.


    • I’ve noticed the same thing. I often thought they got married so they could get a divorce. After all those years, they’d accumulated a full household of “stuff.” Marriage is a contract with legal remedies. So get married and finally, get divorced.

      But also, people don’t take marriage nearly as seriously as we did. They don’t commit. They “sort of ” commit as long as it’s easy. When it gets difficult, they quit.


    • I always thought the “texting” generation was going to have trouble forming meaningful relationships and sadly, I was right. A conversation is more than passing time and telling jokes. It also about baring your soul to someone you care about … and meaning it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I’ve had this on my mind for months, wondering why apparently GOOD marriages break up over what is essentially nothing … and I think that’s because they never really learned to have a meaningful conversation.


      • Communication, on all levels, is at the heart of all good relationships. If you can’t talk to each other… I can’t see how you can get through the bad times together, or really share the good ones.


  5. I genuinely think the modern notion of marriage, i.e., falling in and out of the marriage as seem fit really affects the children if there are any.
    Moreover, the very definition of marriage seems to be lost because many now take it as a level up for their relationship without understanding the major responsibilities that come with them.
    These pictures are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s kind of what I’ve been thinking. We have a whole generation who never learned to have a conversation together. They’ve been living on telephones via text. Everything is just a hook-up, so why should anything really change just because they stood in front of a JP and said: “I do.” I think they mean I do until I don’t or until it’s not fun anymore. I remember Garry and I having this conversation: “How is this generation ever going to form real relationships when they never talk to each other?”

      We never came up with an answer. Maybe the answer was “they won’t.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Okay, Missy, here’s my take.

        Everytime I think I’m the much put upon husband, I get reality flashes that I’m no prize as a hubby. You, since we decided to make this legal, have pretty much carried the ball despite my repeated promises to carry my share. No, I don’t share the false illusion carried by outsiders, that I’m an affable, nice guy and mate. I have a continuous reel playing in my head (on the other side of my cochlear implant) with the other women who’ve been in my life and they’ll all saying the same thing as you do.
        All I can do is try and kick myself in the tush and TRY to be more supportive and appreciative of all your efforts.
        I hope the voice over thing is a starter in that direction, helping a little with the financial headaches.


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