What do you do when you reach a crossroad in a relationship? Are you the reactive type that immediately views it as negative, and begins to plan an escape route? Do you sit and contemplate the crossroad, look at it from all angles and then determine if it makes sense to move forward? Or do you stay for the sake of staying, because you think that being in an unhappy relationship is better than being alone?
We are all out there looking for Mr/Ms perfect and we're determined to look until we find them. The question is, how do you know when you have found them? How do you know that the relationship you are in is worth fighting for? What if surviving a long-term relationship isn't about what you start with, but what you are willing to build along the way?
Two separate people that make a choice to share their lives together often work hard, and make a lot of compromises in order to make the relationship work. This delicate dynamic consists of multiple levels, that have been born out of hours of communication, bonding, growing, changing, and understanding the core person that lies beneath whatever exterior may exist. I think that we as a society sometimes take this intricate design for granted. The relationship becomes black and white instead of the many shades of gray that it really is. Somehow we become lost in the mud of everyday life, and simply lose sight of the very thing we want to cherish.
So often we drift apart, grow apart, and find ourselves at the very crossroad we thought we'd never reach. I wish I could say that there is an easy solution, a great formula to surviving this period in time where uncertainty outweighs strength, and we question all that is placed before us. It is at these times that our relationships are truly tested.
It is a difficult path, and unfortunately, a path that one must walk alone in order to understand their true position. I'm not saying that confiding in a close friend is unwise, but should be shared with caution. Even a friend with the best intentions can be quick to offer an opinion when the end result does not concern them. It is so easy to say 'you could do better', 'what a jerk', or 'if I were you...' and it is easy to pass judgment based on limited information. In reality, no one can truly understand the inner workings of your relationship the way you do, and so it is you who must make the choice to either see it through or walk away.
What can make this period even more difficult is the fact that it can be easy, especially at the beginning of a relationship, to turn a blind eye toward the faults and flaws of the other. We all have them, but somehow we manage to ignore what we do not wish to see. Once the relationship has moved past the 'honeymoon' stage, new layers begin to show themselves. Therefore, it can be difficult at the beginning to determine if you are truly on the right path.
It is a work in progress, a structure that builds and changes over time, and it is nearly impossible to predict the end result. Sometimes an imperfect relationship at the beginning can result in something beautiful, if the key elements are there and the foundation is strong. Sometimes what may seem flawless at the beginning ends up a complete disaster, simply because what is on the surface is not a reflection of what lies beneath. This wild unpredictability can confuse even the most dedicated partners.
This truth, combined with the stress of everyday life, can make it difficult to sift through the various aspects of a distressed relationship. As frightening and heart wrenching as this process may be, it can also be life changing. Without this process, without taking the time to truly sort through the relationship, how will you ever know your true position? How could you ever feel truly confident in your decision without first experiencing this crossroad?
There is a certain confidence that can result from understanding why you make the choices you do. Should the relationship survive, this crossroad could be a blessing, showing you that you can survive the bad times as well as the good times. It could strengthen the bonds that you have already worked so hard to build, and offer a security that you may not have felt, had you not paused at the crossroad and taken the time to understand it.
Some may say that a crossroad is a curse, a bad omen, simply a sign that the relationship just isn't meant to be. I say that it is a blessing, an opportunity to truly understand the inner workings of a relationship. It is an opportunity to learn about ourselves and about the other person. It is a chance to choose a new path, or to continue along an existing one with a fresh perspective. A crossroad is merely a moment in time, when you pause to reflect on your current position. Without it, you may never appreciate the complexity or the strength, that truly is the foundation of the relationship.