When I moved to Santa Barbara in 2000, my cousin was just finishing up his baseball career and ready to look for a “real” job. Within a couple of months he started dating a woman who was newly divorced with two kids. She was super sweet and young enough that she and I got along very well. I babysat the boys and talked to her about school and boys and what not. I even spent a year living with her and her kids before my cousin moved in and they got engaged.
There is a pretty sweet story my cousin used to tell about how missing the call to play in the major league (before cell phones were everywhere, he literally missed the call) was the best thing that could have happened because he got to meet his future wife. I was in their wedding. I listened to her talk about her ex-husband and even some of the issues in her relationship with my cousin.
Overall I thought she was great and I was excited – along with the rest of the family – when they got engaged. I moved away about a year after their wedding and being around them all the time, not seeing her boys grow up, was one of the things that I missed the most.
About a year after I moved they got divorced. A whole slew of reasons, but mostly it came down to the fact that she didn’t want to try to make it work. Marriage, it seems, just wasn’t on her list of priorities. I was sorry for my cousin, of course – no one likes to be left. But until a couple of weeks ago I didn’t realize how mad I was at her.
A couple of weeks ago she friended me on facebook and I accepted. As I was browsing through her pictures I started to get mad. She was in a new relationship. She was happy. She was going on with her life. And yes, I know, I know, that’s what happens after a breakup: you go on with your life. But I hated her a little bit for it. I hated her for coming into our lives and making us like her – love her – and care about her and her kids and her family and then just leaving. I am mad and hurt and, yes, even a little betrayed by the fact that she wanted out. Especially coming up on my own wedding – by the fact that she so carelessly entered into a marriage that she knew she wouldn’t want to have to work at it.
Mostly, I don’t care too much about when a couple breaks up. I mean, obviously I’m sad for the couple to which it happened, but I don’t take it on a personal level. Like my brother and his girlfriend who just broke up. I can see it from the outside perspective that he’s better off without her. Better off without the drama of trying to make someone care about you when that person obviously doesn’t. I can see he deserves someone who truly cares about him – and Allison obviously doesn’t. But I also feel it as the person she tried to befriend. While I was telling her what to get him for his birthday she was already over the relationship. When she sent her text message congratulations on our engagement she was half way out the door.
After I met Wes’ family for the first month, just under a year of dating, I thought how hard it would be to say goodbye to them if we broke up. I have been lucky enough to live far enough away from my family that they haven’t met any of the guys I dated before Wes. And I haven’t been subjected to too many of Porter’s lady friends. Once I met Wes’ family I realized what the big deal is about meeting families: if you break up, you break up with the family too.
Yes, everyone will move on and the relationships will be small blips on the larger radar of life. Holly will probably get married for the fourth time and Allison will find a new boyfriend who will mostly likely endure the same things my brother did until she finds away to extract herself from a relationship she doesn’t care about. And me? I’m just glad that I’ve never had to break up with a family before.