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I Wish He'd Beat Me
Considering there is so much to offer, it's amazing how many people are in bad relationships. We've all known people who have stayed in unhappy relationships. But why? Are they evaluating their relationships based on benefits to their lives or is something else driving their decisions? What values are they seeking? Why don't they just leave?
A girl I know was stuck in a lifeless relationship, not bad, just lifeless. Living with her husband had not turned out to be the romantic adventure she had envisioned. It had deteriorated to no more than doing chores and going to work every day. Once in a while, when she could manage to get away, she would go to the mall and wander around aimlessly just to have a moment by herself. Whenever she thought about her husband, her thoughts lingered around, "But he hasn't done anything wrong..."
One day, they got into an argument. He shoved her in the middle of bickering and guess what happened next? She became ecstatic. That's right, her spirits could not have been higher. "Now I can leave him", she said, "because I do not tolerate violence." Imagine what she did have to tolerate to utter those words, to rejoice at being physically assaulted.
It's a common trap to fall into thinking that we're supposed to serve our relationships when it should be the other way around. It could be that relationships are sometimes viewed as milestones in life, and not being in one is some kind of failure. Or it could be that some people judge their own desirability or status based on their whom they are with. Or it could be because people believe that ending a relationship would mean they've wasted their time all along, invalidating any good associated with it. Whatever the reason, people end up elevating the relationship above their own lives regardless of the cost.
We choose to form relationships, be it friendships or romantic relationships, because they enhance our lives. We seek out each other's company because we enjoy the interactions. When a friendship deteriorates, both sides naturally cool off. Yet when it comes to romantic relationship, couples often feel obligated to press on, unless there is absolutely irreconcilable differences. They go through enormous stress and effort, from getting counseling to having a baby, in order to "make the relationship work".
But a relationship is valuable only when it serve our lives, not when we have to contort our lives to serve it. No longer finding value in a relationship is ample reason in itself to step away. Neither side needs to seek permission from the other to end something they have stopped enjoying. Otherwise, we may one day find ourselves in the unenviable position of fantasizing about being beaten, in exchange for a chance at ending self-imposed lifelong misery.
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