Photograph from artiden.com
In working through my goals for 2014, I find myself much more in tune of the people around me, and their problems, their concerns, their joys, and their successes. And in hearing their stories, I find myself doing even more self exploration than I should. And one story I was told, earlier this week has really hit me hard, and honestly, has made me sad.
I have a friend, let’s call him Jack, who is currently engaged to a woman who, honestly, doesn’t make him happy. And he feels like it’s too late to call off the wedding, even though he knowingly admits he’s not happy. Is it too late? Ok, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning of this story. Jack meets, we’ll call her Jill, on a dating website. Things are great for a little while, but then she makes some career changes, and by changes I mean, quits work and goes back to school. She’s focused on her studies, so much that her relationship takes a major back seat. So much so, that I’d say the relationship isn’t even in the car. I’d say that school is the copilot, her child is the backseat, and Jack, well, Jack is on the side of the road waiting for her to decide to pick him up whenever she damn well feels like it. And it pisses me off.
Why, you might ask, am I so affected by the way Jill treats Jack? Their relationship has nothing to do with me. It shouldn’t affect me. But it does, and it does because Jack is a good friend. And more than that, he’s a good man. A loving man. A caring man. An amazing father and provider. He’s got an amazing body, is in good health, and is loyal to a fault. He’s wonderful. He’s what every woman hopes to find one day, and Jill friggin has him! And she’s wasting him. She’s taking advantage of all that is good about him because she knows he won’t leave. He’s too nice of a guy to leave.
So, a year ago, things were really bleak for Jack and Jill. Jack even mentioned breaking things off. He had tried everything to get her to make him a priority. He’d suggested everything from couples counseling, to time away together, anything in an attempt to make things better. But she wouldn’t participate. All of her actions were apparent, at least to this outsider, in that his happiness, and his needs were not her concern. Not at all. So, imagine my shock when at Christmas, he proposed to her. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “Jack, what the hell are you doing?” But he was sure this would make it better. He was sure that now, surely, that she had obtained his ultimate commitment, and a gorgeous piece of hardware to wear on her hand, that his needs would be met. They were, for a time. But not that long of a time. And then it cycled back to him being miserable.
And here’s how great of a guy he is: he doesn’t even let her see his misery. He just goes to the gym to work out his frustrations, and leaves her to study and do whatever she needs to do. He puts her happiness first at all times, and it’s so frustrating to see that he doesn’t get that in return.
So, fast forward to this week, and it’s been a bit since Jack and I had a long talk, as we’re only able to talk via work email, because she’s very threatened by my presence in Jack’s life, so he’s forbidden to call or text me. So, I asked him in an email how things were going with the wedding planning, as it’s only a few short months away, and his answers broke my heart. He said phrases like ‘i get sweaty palms just thinking about it’ and ‘don’t remind me’ and ‘I’m completely out of the loop’ and ‘it’s her show.’ So, being the brutally honest person that I am, I said to him, “Jack, it’s not too late to change your mind ya know. If you’re not happy, and this isn’t truly what you want, then don’t do it.”
He responded simply with, “It’s too late.”
I said, “No, it’s not! The wedding hasn’t happened yet! You still have time, don’t do this to yourself if you’re not 100% sure!” He said, “No, it’s too late. Her family has bought plane tickets, the venue has been booked, her dad had knee surgery so he could walk her down the isle. It’s too late.”
And I dropped it.
But that conversation has stuck with me so profoundly, because his reasons for it being too late were all about her. He didn’t say, “It’s too late. I’ve committed, and I love her, and I want to make this work.” And to me, watching someone I care about deeply walk over broken glass into the fire, and do so voluntarily is heart wrenching. Because if I was about to marry a man, and he was telling friends that he’s just marrying me because it’s too late to call it off…yeah, that’s not a marriage I’d want.
I wish him well, don’t get me wrong. If he’s going to do this, I hope that it works for him. I hope that at some point she puts his needs first. I hope at some point that she takes a long hard look at the amazing man who has pledged his life to her and stop taking him for granted. I hope she stops being the selfish person I see her being currently. I hope all these things for Jack. Sadly, hoping rarely makes things true.
But all of this had me thinking, is it really ever too late? Are there bells you can’t unring? And for Jack, he feels that it is definitely too late. I disagree, but we all have to walk our paths. But I will take this lesson I’ve learned in watching Jack and his selfish Jill head towards the altar, in that, when I get lucky enough to have another relationship, I will make sure to do so selflessly, and ensure that my new man be selfless as well. If we each put the other first, how awesome would that be? I don’t ever want to be selfish like Jill. And I don’t want to make a great man, like Jack, feel unappreciated. And if I were in Jack’s shoes, if I were in a relationship where I felt unhappy and unfulfilled, and dare I say it, bored (because that’s truly what he is. He’s bored, she doesn’t inspire him at all), it would never be too late for me to end things for my own sanity. As my best friend says, “No one is worth your sanity. No one.” And he’s right.
Ciao for now,