Fiction. That is my usual genre of choice. That is where my adventure as a writer began. For whatever reason these characters come to life in my mind and I have to spill out their stories. A conversation with a fellow writer reminded me of how close we are to these make-believe persons. They are with you for however long it takes to fill the pages, and even linger on after. The book might end, but their stories go on and on. The fellow writer I spoke of lost a character in her most recent installment. I didn't see it coming and admittedly cried like a baby. We get attached to these figments of our imagination. I still remember the first time I wrote a character's death. I still get teary when I read back over the notes. I've yet to release that series. It's an ongoing project.
I have, however, dabbled in non-fiction. It isn't much. It's probably the shortest segment of my writing career. I wrote it while muddling through a handful of hardships. Then to add to it, I was at a part in a WIP where the MC experiences a tragedy.
I've since filed the work away and forgotten it. I made it through the rough time. I'd like to say all is better, but we all know how that goes. Friends of mine have had such conflicts thrown into their lives. Some willingly take what I know from the experience and put it to use. Others wallow in the misfortune and let it drag them down. I've seen couples who have been married longer than I've been alive call it quits. I've seen couples who showed the most heartwarming and inspirational displays of affection for their spouse, then pack and leave in the middle of the night. Then you have the ones who squabble and bicker and yet are the dearest couples I've ever seen. There is no right or wrong way. But there are lessons.
This is mine.
A friend once told me that everyone falls in and out of love with their spouse throughout their marriage. This is a normal thing. Marriage is a perfect arrangement involving imperfect people. It originated from a loving God, thus it is inevitably to be attacked by a jealous Devil. Marriage can be a blessing, or it can be a curse. It all depends on how hard you want to fight for it. How long you want to work with it. You have to remember to fall back in love.
She never told me how intense the barrage of attacks would be. Am I on the right side? Am I fighting for, or against this relationship? Is there a time when it's appropriate to surrender the battle. How will I know? I feel as though I've poured my life force into trying to save this bond. It seems to merely be a bandage on a laceration. It needs to heal from the inside before the hemorrhaging can be controlled.
How many times can a person be mentally and emotionally bludgeoned before they are rendered debilitated? Is the effect always negative, or can one find a nourishing side to the raids? If one is to look hard enough, they might possibly locate a point of return, a galvanized base to rebuild from.
My mother has always told me, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Strength is a good thing. Endurance is better. The desire to have both is hallowed. The ability to is empowering. A person who has the ability to be strong and to endure is untouchable as long as this one continues to put their power to use. It demands constant awareness on this person's part. Now, this being with the ability, they may be able to ensure their own survival, but they cannot aid just anyone they want to do the same. Each person has to have the real desire to save themselves.
What does this have to do with marriage? If one has the strength and endurance required to sustain a marriage, and their partner does not, it is futile and cruel to continue. Both parties have to put a full and honest effort into the arrangement for there to be a chance of success. There must be absolute faith in one another. Unadulterated trust. Not just the "fall back and I'll catch you" kind, but the "don't let go till we're through to the other side" kind. The kind you never question, you never look back. I experienced that once upon a time.
How do you get back to that? How do you re-learn trust after repeated let downs and losses? If trust is absent, love cannot be retained. They are interlocking pieces. Where does the trust start? You trust persons you know well. Friends. It takes time and effort to build a friendship. They don't happen overnight, not the real ones. Friends may come and go. True friends stay. They are the ones you can be open around. They don't judge you, but they will advise you if they feel you are making a poor decision. True friends weather the test of time. Best friends are of an elite group. These are the ones you trust your life with, or would give your life for. These not only weather the test of time, but flourish, become better, grow. They are the ones who know you, your every look, your every thought, they can even predict what you might say. They know how to make you laugh, and take the time to do it often. They listen when you need to vent. They know how to console you from the heart. Best of all, you do all the same for them. The only step up from this is a spouse.
A spouse is a completion of yourself. Not a team, but one person, one flesh. A spouse is your everything, your very breath. For better, for worse, till death. End of story. Or at least, it should be. What happens, where does it go bad? Is it because this person is more or less than what you expected, what you wanted? There was a vow, a promise. That is the proof of trust, embodiment of faith. You are to care for this person, shelter, treasure, protect. There is nothing you wouldn't do for this being. You would go to the ends of the earth, use all your strength, give your last breath, and never waiver in your belief this one would do the same for you. That is what marriage is all about. Loss of self respect is detrimental to this agreement. Any lack of self worth will tear it apart. On the other end, the slightest hint of selfishness will prove catastrophic. You have to be everything to this other person, and yet be good to yourself. For they wouldn't want you to be weakened in any way, even self induced frailty.
When you allow yourself to stumble, this hinders your spouse. A strong spouse will quickly adjust to the new load, and become what is needed to correct the situation. If the problem is not resolved, and is allowed to continue, the stronger one will begin to drain. As a loving mate, you should first repair your own shortcomings. This will give you the needed strength and understanding to support your spouse the way you did before the failing. You will both become the foot-holding the other needs to climb into a reinforced marriage.
If your spouse begins to show signs of self doubt, try to get to the base of it before it festers. Don't pry, but draw them out. Let them know you are concerned. Be gentle and kind. If they don't respond right away, simply let them know you are there if and when they need you. They may very well be capable to atone for their self. Then simply move on. If, on the other hand, it is not stabilized, you may have to dig a little deeper. Is there an underlying problem? Is something changed, or lost? Quick action is imperative.