Can A New Relationship Change You? Sometimes, The Answer Is Yes
by Lizzy Smith
January 12, 2015
I have dated quite a few men in my adult life. Most of those men have been married before. Many of them also have an acrimonious relationship with their ex. And one thing I’ve learned the hard way is this: I need to stay out of it (minus listening with a sympathetic ear and giving lots of hugs). Because when there is a lot of anger, court battles and drama between the two of them, I can’t possible know where the truth actually lies. His version might be totally accurate—she could really be that pathological liar crazy bitch he portrays her to be. And then again, maybe she’s not. The reality is that I wasn’t there, there are two sides to every story and this is one battle that is not mine to fight. Maybe my new guy is the one to blame (as was the case with my ex-husband; apparently his ex-wife was a cheating lazy bitch, yet I soon learned, he was a volatile, explosive alcoholic, which he forgot to tell me about). Or maybe the two of them had super terrible chemistry and with new partners, the dynamics are different and everyone is fixed and happy.
And this is my musing of today. Can someone who was a horrible partner in one relationship be a better person in a new one?
In my case, I think I was a pretty decent partner. And then I married an alcoholic. I tried my very best to be a great partner to my husband but, truth be told, there was nothing I could do to heal my marriage. When substance abuse or addiction is concerned, really, there is no hope. But the dynamics of my marriage created a Lizzy that I hated. I was a shell of who I was once. I didn’t laugh or smile so much. I became obsessed with cleanliness and order. I communicated typically by silence—simply not speaking, texting or emailing my husband at all for days after his drunken screaming episodes. He would email, text and call me begging to resolve our latest argument and I simply wouldn’t respond at all. A good idea? Not really. Or… if I didn’t take the “silence” approach, I simply fought back verbally with the most awful accusations and put-downs I could muster. “You’re a drunk and I fucking hate you,” I would say. “You’re lazy and stupid and every time you open your fat mouth you are embarrassing.” When I said those awful things to him, it felt good. I felt powerful. It was really sick. And on some level, I really felt that if I said the right combination of words, it would inspire him to finally be “better.” A good approach for a good marriage? Of course not!