The idea for this post actually started churning in my head when a friend made some cryptic comments and I thought that his marriage was in trouble. Thankfully (kind of), he later explained more and the issue turned out to be a medical issue with a pretty good prognosis rather than a marriage careening for divorce.
Even so, I’m still disturbed by the effect that our long-term expectations that things be disposable seems to created in our culture.
Of course, there is the idea of real, tangible trash and garbage. Life for many families has become a dash to fast food restaurants with food being served in single-use packaging. We eat the fare and toss the packaging. Hopefully, it goes into the trash, but all too often it just goes flying out the car window. We forget about the trash, because our “relationship” with it is over. The trash, however lives on — in a landfill, on the side of the road, washed into a lake or stream, etc. Throwing something away doesn’t mean it ceases existing. It just goes somewhere, usually making a mess in the process.
When we treat people like they are disposable, the same thing happens. We have a fight, we get bored, the “shininess” of the “wow” wears off. We start thinking that the other person (that we have made significant promises to) is more like baggage than a steady companion. Our gut instinct is to kick them to the curb. Once that person is out of our lives (although, if we’ve had children together, it’s impossible to completely rid your life of the unwanted “other”), he or she still exists. Hopefully, they will pull through and realize that they have worth and can contribute to the world at large. The process that it takes to get there can be messy and hurtful for a lot of people, though. And, like the family needing dinner, you will get “hungry” again, and probably repeat the process.
Even though a home-cooked meal takes more time and effort, it can be a step in reducing pollution. And, even though fixing a relationship that has started to unravel can take a lot of time and effort, it’s often better than trying to start over without the character that is built from tough love and commitment.
** NOTE: None of this applies if you are in an abusive relationship. If you think you might be the victim of abuse, seek professional help ASAP!