“I want painful and devastating love!” Yup she said it and we all heard it! Thursday night on another exciting episode of Scandal, Kerry Washington, aka Olivia Pope, told her fiancé in wait, as she bowed out of their engagement that she didn’t want their “simple” love she wanted “painful and devastating love!” For those of you who haven’t seen the show you should know that the “painful and devastating” love she is speaking about comes in the form of the hot and steamy love affair that she is having with the President (Fitz) of the United States. Okay I won’t go into too much detail about the show, but I write this article to address a few bigger issues. Let me preface this by saying that in no way am I condemning the show because I actually enjoy the show and I realize it is only television. The issues I want to address are the ones that I see play out in real life every day; I am just choosing the show Scandal to use as a metaphor of sorts so just follow me!
I often hear people say “well if you aren’t fighting then your relationship isn’t real,” or “arguing just comes with the territory,” and the classic “relationships are supposed to be hard.” Don’t get me wrong I understand these concepts, but I am afraid that too many times they are being taken out of context. You see it is my belief that “disagreeing” is normal, but fighting all the time is dysfunctional. Arguing doesn’t “come with the territory,” having a disagreements and compromising to come to a conclusion is what comes with the territory. Relationships aren’t hard, relationships just take effort. I believe it’s important to define these concepts because normalizing dysfunction in relationships manifest itself in people staying in dysfunctional relationships way too long and as a consequence ending up permanently damaged. Relationships aren’t perfect, but we must begin to understand when they are not healthy. Love shouldn’t be breaking you down it should be building you up. Love shouldn’t be chaotic it should be your place of peace. Pain shouldn’t be the EXPECTATION, pain should be the EXCEPTION.
The second thing I would like to address is this glorification of having exciting affairs. NEWS FLASH…the sheer fact that it is an affair spells exciting. The fact that it’s new and fresh and “forbidden” makes it appealing. The issue I see though is that many people tend to want to compare the idea of an affair to their actual marriage. Olivia said she didn’t want “simple” love and that’s understandable, but does that mean you can only get exciting love out of an affair? Only out of something reckless? Does that mean you can’t have excitement within your marriage or relationship with the person you care about the most? When did marriage and boredom become synonymous? My point is that you can’t compare extracurricular activity to what goes on within your relationship because committing to someone comes with a higher level of responsibility and also more normalcy. Do you think that if Olivia Pope ended up actually being married to the President (Fitz) that after a few years of living with him daily and dealing with him and his issues that things would be nearly as “intense” or “exciting?” The point is put the effort into making your own relationship exciting instead of comparing and searching for the excitement in the affair!
Finally let’s talk about how the episode ended. The episode ended with Fitz telling Olivia (the mistress) that he was ending the affair and going back to his wife. Surprise, surprise!! More times than not these situations play out the same in real like. The cheater almost always stays with their spouse, and the mistress. Or the mister, for lack of a better term, ends up heartbroken and wondering “WHY!?” Well I can tell you why…it’s because once the excitement wears off then we all want to go back to our comfortable place. The place where we are genuinely loved and where our heart truly lies is usually where we revert back to. It’s easy to take someone’s flesh and body, but taking their heart from the person they’ve committed to in life and in love is no easy feat.
So, you ask, what is my point? My point is very simple: we need to change the expectation when it comes to what healthy relationships should look like. Dysfunction is not normal and shouldn’t just “come with the territory.” Secondly please understand that marriage doesn’t have to be synonymous with simplicity or boredom. Marriage can still be exciting and healthy at the same time, but searching for excitement in affairs will usually lead you down a road of destruction and heartache. If you want to know how the story usually ends just ask Olivia Pope, or the hundreds of thousands real life versions.
BMWK — Get involved in the conversation. What are your thoughts about dysfunctional relationships and affairs?