How Well-Intentioned People Slowly Fall Apart

A clear, thought provoking excerpt from  Matthew Fray’s book, This Is How Your Marriage Ends: A Hopeful Approach to Saving Relationships.

Dig the last two paragraphs:

“If I had known that this drinking-glass situation and similar arguments would actually end my marriage—that the existence of love, trust, respect, and safety in our marriage was dependent on these moments I was writing off as petty disagreements—I would have made different choices.

I could have communicated my love and respect for her by not leaving tiny reminders for her each day that she wasn’t considered. That she wasn’t remembered. That she wasn’t respected. I could have carefully avoided leaving evidence that I would always choose my feelings and my preferences over hers.”

In one portion of my first year writing seminar, my students and I explore the concept of romantic love and the notion of “soulmates” more specifically. Next fall, in that context, we will read this essay. Eighteen and nineteen year olds don’t even remotely think about romantic relationships in Fray’s suggested terms because no one ever asks them to. In my teaching experience, when they are challenged to, they routinely rise to the occasion and reveal genuine maturity and depth.

More broadly, if you want to invite me to a dinner party, I would enjoy using this excerpt as a case study of sorts to engage other couples about the relative health of their relationships. It would be thrilling because it could go spectacularly wrong, but even then it would be revealing to hear people’s different perspectives on Fray’s telling of his divorce story.

Or I suppose, we can just keep talking about Elon Musk, the price of gas, and the weather.

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