(Toledo, OH) A person I know has made a decision to leave her spouse and children for another relationship. The details are unimportant, as similar stories have been told many times, and this person is unlikely to read these words.
I write, however, for those who might be on the fence, blinded by the infatuatory rush of a new love that hits the nervous system with a kick greater than any opiate.
I have screwed up more than a few things in life, but I have learned at least one thing from my mistakes: happiness can be achieved no matter where you are. It is an individual, conscious decision to find reasons to be glad for the day.
I had a perfect moment today while my children were splashing at a community pool. A red-bellied woodpecker landed about ten feet away, staring down at me from a nearby tree. The bird preened, looked about, and flew away about a half-minute later.
There was nothing particularly noteworthy about the event, and yet I knew that I had momentarily achieved that elusive state of kensho taught in Zen Buddhism.
Perhaps if you invested an equivalent amount of time and effort in your current relationship you might find that life with your significant other is not such a burden. Better still, look for the redeeming qualities in your relationship instead of dwelling on petty faults.
For one moment, consider the fact that your decision to end a relationship may have long-reaching consequences that affect many other people. Can you honestly say that any children in the picture will benefit from a divorce or separation? If not, your decision might be selfish in nature, and maybe you might want to think about putting other people first.
I know that there are some abusive people on the planet, and I am not advocating that people should be forced to stay in a situation that is dangerous or unhealthy.
Such scenes, however, are not the norm, and most of us know at least one relationship that broke down because one (or both) parties became so self-absorbed that the union collapsed under the weight of inflated egos.
Remember: the relationship is not always about you. When is the last time you gave your spouse a back rub, or cooked a favorite meal for that person? When did you last walk up and whisper in your lover's ear: "I think you are REALLY sexy today!"
Finally, consider that kindness extended to others without expectation of reward can be a path to happiness itself, and that taking steps to improve the lives of others is the mark of the divine.