This archived article was written by: Nathaniel Woodward
Relationships are a roller coaster, regardless of one’s stage in life. Sometimes you’re up and things roll smoothly while sometimes you’re in a decline. It’s a tale as old as time. History provides countless examples of relationships both favorable and somewhat less successful. I’m not going to come out against ending a relationship whether it’s new or lasted several decades, honestly there are many good reasons why people split up, but what I want to discuss are a few examples both from history and my life that demonstrate the complexities and intricacies involved. Hopefully by the end you can have a better picture of just how real relationships can get.
In Greek mythology the story of Odysseus and Penelope in Homer’s “Odyssey” stands out as a testament to extreme levels of commitment. While not a particularly realistic story, it conveys feelings that at some point and time people really have. Shortly into their marriage Odysseus is called away to lead the armies of Ithaca in the Trojan War leaving behind Penelope and their young son.
Several years later, Odysseus is presumed dead by all the nobility who go to exhaustive lengths to try to court the presumed newly single Penelope. Penelope rebuffed every suitor whose antics were becoming dangerous and threatening for many years, all the while, unbeknownst to her, Odysseus was stranded time and again as he struggled to make it home to her.
Twenty years later, those who wanted to marry Penelope set out to murder her now grown son in the palace when just in time Odysseus finally returns home and fights off the dozens of hostile suitors. One of Penelope’s servants rushes to tell her Odysseus returned but after countless false alarms over the many years, she could not believe her. Just as Penelope was ready to give up completely, she heard Odysseus call her name from behind her.
Their story, although fictional, plays a crucial part on what it means to have a lasting and worthwhile relationship, that is to not lose faith in one another.
I’ve been married to my wife for six-and-a-half years, a short time for some, a long time for others. I feel, for us, it was a healthy mixture of both. Since I value my life, I will not divulge any details that would jeopardize my health. Sometimes we are Odysseus and Penelope and sometimes we’re more like Max and John from “Grumpy Old Men.” Regardless of where we are or whose being the schmuck at the time, we keep the big picture; after all the descent is the fun part of the roller coaster.
The best example of why our relationship works is our willingness to involve ourselves in each others interest’s whether we enjoy them or not. For my last birthday, my wife bought us tickets to the Utah Symphony Mahler Cycle, something I hinted at wanting to attend for months. If you don’t know much about German composers, they are not the cheeriest bunch. Readers, if someone is willing to sit through 90 minutes of Mahler for you, lock that down.