Can A Broken Marriage Be Salvaged?
Can a broken marriage be salvaged? This is not an easy or direct question to answer. There are many factors that play into marriages "breaking" or "failing." In some cases, the short answer is, no. There are times when it is not safe or healthy to "fix" a marriage, if that was even possible. In other cases, the short answer is, yes. There are times when there is a way. Some people can decide that they will do everything they can to salvage their marriage. Ultimately, no one can answer that question for you. You must decide for yourself and with your spouse.
Our marriages are like finely crafted vases, molded carefully from the most valuable clay. We display this vase proudly for all to see, when it’s new and shiny. We take immense care in creating its unique design, contours and colors. We praise ourselves in how hard we worked to get the clay purified for this vase. We congratulate ourselves in knowing that ours looks durable and feels different from all other vases out there. It is our vase. We are proud to have it, no matter its flaws.
When handled in certain ways, it lightens our burdens, and there’s peace in our home. It lifts up our spirits, and chases out our miseries. Confusion disappears in its presence. Such is the power of this vase to keep us planted on the path of happiness. With it, we have power to create in our imagination, and cause into existence all that we work for in faith. But we’re always mindful that the vase is nothing, except what we created from clay. We maintain the truth that the essence of the vase is clay. It is beautiful because we make it so. It loses its beauty when we fail to see that its beauty came from us. Its essence is nothing more than the energy we put into it.
We polish this vase when it’s new and attractive. We spend all we have to keep it bright and pretty in the beginning. We dust it often, even though there’s hardly any dirt on it at this point in its expected long life. But sooner or later, it starts to age. Its character gets tried. Cracks appear. It chips, and gets rough around the edges. The painted artwork fades. It loses it glitter and spark. The pretty vase gets housebroken, as it should be. That’s when we decide it’s no longer beautiful, and we are ready to get rid of it. This is what Dolores Gawitt calls, “our throw away moments.” We give up on love, which we are always demanding, but hardly ever valuing. We are the throw away generation. We desire everything, but we value nothing for real. Yet for fear of shame that we paid too much for what we so easily throw away, we reluctantly hang in. It is not that we’re willing to work to perfect what we have. Rather, we don’t want attention given to our failures. We don’t want to give in. Not when we’ve drawn so much attention to that beautiful vase. We’re afraid to be condemned for having invested, and then ditched, at the first sign of trouble. This is what restrains us from smashing the vase.
So, we park it somewhere in the corner, outside our real lives. We let spiders and other bugs take it over. Eventually we find a hiding place for it, and keep it far away, out of sight and mind. We deposit it just where we can safely avoid shame for having created a vase in the first place. It becomes a collectible, just one of the many useless things we acquired in a limited purpose existence.
But we can’t live with the cluttered mess forever. The accumulated bugs in our lives cannot be kept around for too long because they smell. That’s the unhealthy condition, which compels us to clean up. That’s when the vase confronts us. But we are never willing to be responsible for the deplorable condition of that which we created and once treasured. So, in our fits of disappointment, rage, regret, frustration and affliction, we break our commitments. Now the vase, fragile after years of neglect, shatters into pieces. It is in this moment that we make our greatest mistake in love. We think divorce, and we get what we think about.
However, for those who married in love, divorce is not an option. It is impossible because it is inconceivable. They understand that the essence contained in the shattered vase is still their invaluable clay. To these couples, the clay is not ordinary. It is unique, because it was dug up and brought out from within each of them. Its value subsists not in what they create at any given moment in time. Rather, it is necessarily a piece of who they are. They cannot imagine throwing away the broken pieces of their vase, because they can’t survive life itself by disposing off parts of themselves. For these reasons, they protect that vase with their lives. They know that their existence is tied in with the beauty of the clay from which the vase was formed. In maintaining the integrity of the vase, they guaranteed themselves happiness, even in the midst of troubles.
But if somehow, by neglect or frustration the vase is cracked and breaks into pieces, they don’t call it death. They know that the clay is always retrievable. It can be worked out. So, instead of giving in and taking up divorce, they open their hearts to the true essence contained in the broken pieces. After all, this is the clay from which they molded that vase at the start. Therefore, they endeavor to pick themselves up where they fell. They sacrifice, and re-work that clay in earnest and diligence to mend their broken dreams.
It is not easy working with sharp edges when our lives have been broken down into pieces. There will be bruises. We will suffer cuts, and we’ll bleed from wounds inflicted with fighting words. Pain and tears will be common, and frequent. They will keep dedicated lovers awake through incredibly long nights, while they work to fix problems that seem too complicated, or not worth solving.
But when we know that the clay is worth the struggle, we don’t give up. We see a new vase forming, even while grinding the jagged fragments from the past. We keep working till we get the clay purified. We make sure it’s freed from the roughness of time, and the degrading elements, which compromised its integrity. Once refined, we add water and dig our hands into the dirt.
It is not pretty working life back into that which some may have presumed dead. But when we commit to love, we can restore and imbue the clay with elasticity. We can impose life and beauty to that clay again. We can always make life beautiful, if we so desire. We can mold a new vase from the good old clay. This time around, we can choose to build the new vase more durable and resilient without losing the beauty. We may call it new, and treasure it as such. But we know that it’s the same old precious clay in a different form.
© Jeremiah N. Ollennu and www.ollennuandassociates.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jeremiah N. Ollennu and www.ollennuandassociates.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.