Tainted Love

Anna - Lexington, South Carolina
Entered on November 24, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, love, question
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

Tainted Love

My parents divorced when I was 13. It was years in the making. They were separated one time before, when I was six. When I was younger, I could hear their screams through the walls of their room. I would bring my sister to my room and talk to her so she wouldn’t hear. My mom got back together with my dad the first time, because she felt guilty that my sister and I were so young.

When she finally decided to divorce my dad, I was so angry. Every time something bad happened I took it out on her. She ruined my family. My mom took it all. She knew I was mad, and she felt guilty for hurting my dad, my sister and me.

It took a couple years, but I realized we were all ok. The divorce hadn’t ruined my family. My parents actually got along better as friends instead of spouses. They didn’t fight and each of them was doing better on their own. My mom was happier, freer. My dad’s temper was better and he worked harder with my sister and me. I guess the shock of losing his wife made him afraid he could lose his daughters.

Even though our family is fine now, it changed the way I look at marriage. My mom and I have a very open relationship. We talk about everything, including the reason she got divorced. She told me she doesn’t think she ever loved him. I can’t understand how she could be married for 20 years and not love him.

I started looking at other marriages. The majority of marriages, I saw, failed. Either they were divorced or they were unhappy in their marriage. Divorce isn’t the end of the world, but it’s certainly not the goal. And, an unhappy marriage is worse. I don’t want that.

I started dating and realized that love, like a good marriage, was hard to find. I’m not sure true love exists, or that it exists for everyone. I think many people are in relationships of lust, loneliness, or status. I don’t think many people are really in love, or at least my definition of love. True love means you find no one else attractive, you accept your love’s short-comings as part of them, you put your love before yourself and you love each other equally.

From what I’ve seen, one person always loves more than the other, one person always gives more than the other, and lust fades. After years of marriage, there has to be more than just love, there has to be function. A great marriage is built on everyday life, working and helping each other. I don’t believe some people are capable of putting another before their self. Some people are not capable of monogamy.

Although I see marriage as an incredible challenge, I have seen marriage and love thrive. I’m cynical, but I haven’t given up yet. I hope to have a love that will last through marriage. And, never wake-up to realize I don’t love my husband.