I got an email in this morning from a woman feeling guilty about having divorced her husband. She wanted to know if I thought she should feel guilty for having divorced her husband.
I hesitate to write this, because I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from people telling me how marriage is a sacred bond that one should never break except if one of the partners has taken to beating the other, or something truly awful like that. I pretty much agree with that; I’ve been married since fashion was taking its cues from “Miami Vice”—and my parents got divorced–and then my mom remarried and got divorced again. So I’m not exactly what you’d call keen on divorce.
But here’s the way I feel, generally speaking, about relationships: I don’t work at them. To me, a relationship that needs work is like a car that needs wheels: pretty useless for really going anywhere. If I’m in a relationship with someone, or a group, or whatever, and I lose what amounts to my excitement about being in that relationship, I stop being in that relationship. Life’s too short to have to work at relationships. Life is work. If I want work, I’ll go into my kitchen.
You have to behave honorably, of course. You can’t just ditch people. But if in my relationship with another I feel like I’ve made my needs known, and been clear about what I want or expect out of the relationship, and have been respectful of the other person’s needs and desires, and still whatever we once seemed to have going on has basically dissipated, I’m outta there like a rat at a cat show.
I blame them, is the thing. Or just … life generally. I know that sounds obnoxious, but … there it is. I figure I tried. I showed up. I went in assuming our relationship was going to work. If it didn’t, and I’ve been honest the whole time, then … from whence my guilt?
Plus, you know how relationships are. If I’m not feeling it anymore, they’re probably not either. No use two people sitting around staring at the remains of a meal neither of them want to eat anymore. Might as well clear the table.
I guess I just want to say: If you’re in a relationship that you can just feel isn’t going to work out for you, get out. Move on. Explain yourself, say your good-byes (or don’t: the conditions of exiting a relationship are too varied for a One Size Fits All good-bye: sometimes the silent slow fade is best), and look to the horizon. But don’t feel guilty about moving on. Life is very short, and there are a whole bunch of relationships out there waiting for you that are exciting, that do matter, that won’t grow stale or weird or difficult.
Good relationships don’t take work. Good relationships are fun. They feed on, and are sustained by, their own beautifully organic energy. Life gives us enough relationships that we do have to work at because we’re simply stuck in them (with co-workers, family members, next door neighbors, etc), for us to spend more than we need to in unfulfilling relationships we can end whenever, and however, we want to.