The following is an excerpt from the new release, Fractured Into Wholeness, available on Amazon in print and ebook formats.
One of my friends texted me and asked, “I work hard on my marriage, and I think you did, too. Did you see a warning sign? Could this happen to me even if I’m doing everything I can?”
Yes, of course, it can. I don’t say that to spur fear in anyone. Early in our marriage, my ex and I talked about how we didn’t want to be a couple who said divorce would never be an option for us, because we believed that if we thought it could never happen to us, we’d let down our guard and be more susceptible. It kept us on our toes a bit more.
Until it didn’t.
Sometimes we see signs but don’t know what they mean at the time. Maybe we don’t even realize they are signs. In an everyday context, they seem “everyday.” Sometimes even the abnormal seems normal, because people get good at going through the motions and deceiving themselves and others.
There is always a possibility that one person will decide the marriage is no longer a priority, that getting out and starting something new is preferable. (There is also always a possibility someone who is on the edge of jumping ship in their marriage will decide to turn and do the hard work to stay.) We can pour into a relationship and believe we’re doing everything we can yet still find out the other person has separated from us. Just like we can drive carefully but get in an accident or try to take care of our bodies but still get cancer. We have responsibility, but we don’t have complete control.
Some people compartmentalize, and when crisis hits, compartmentalizing might help as a crisis coping mechanism. Temporarily. Compartmentalizing over time usually becomes harmful. In the immediate crisis, it allows you to get a few things done that are pressing but difficult to focus on. Over time, however, it creates silos which separate truths and reality. It is almost always accompanied by rationalization and excuses. In the process, all sorts of blame gets displaced, and a skewed perspective that makes sense in one compartment invites deception in other compartments.
Truth is always better than the comfort of compartmentalizing.
I think compartmentalizing has almost become a valued skill in our culture. I’ve heard many declare, “I compartmentalize well” as a badge of accomplishment. But just because someone assigns value to a skill doesn’t make it helpful or healthy.
Compartmentalizing will help you be content in one area, while closing off other areas of your life. Compartmentalizing as an ongoing strategy instead of a temporary crisis mode tends to split most everything into two categories. First, the areas of life people feel are going well, the ones they deem as healthy, are often attributed to their own efforts. Second, the areas that are not going well are often blamed on others. They deem responsibility over some areas, the ones they’re proud of, but claim no control or influence in the areas they don’t understand.
Compartmentalizing is often rationalized as an energy-saver. However, when the walls between the categories are torn down, we realize some insights and efforts help more than one category at once. When we look for truth and let that truth change us, we heal and grow in multiple areas. We become more whole.
Truth isn’t always the easy way, but it is the most beneficial way to live fully and purposefully. Truth and wholeness walk hand in hand.