Keeping Up Appearances

It’s hard to admit to yourself that you failed at something, especially a marriage or other relationship, but it’s even more difficult to admit this to close friends and family members.  It is often easier to “keep up appearances” and not let on that there are problems.  I did this for at lot longer than I should have and kept everything to myself. I t slowly but surely ate away at me, and I felt very alone because no one really understood what I was going through except for me.

I finally reached a point where I spilled my guts to a good friend and eventually some family members and other close friends.  It felt good to get it all out to at least a few people.  I eventually told others in various degrees of detail, but now I don’t feel like I have anything to hide or that I have to pretend in front of anyone, which is very freeing.  I don’t have to carry around all that anger, resentment and whatever other feelings with me to deal with all by myself.  I actually don’t know what I would do without my good friends who are always willing to listen and commiserate.

The thing is, I know many people who are in the same boat with a failed relationship, but some of them are still trying to keep up appearances in some way, shape, or form. They continue to take family photos for holiday cards and post pictures on social media sites, as if things were just wonderful.  They still wear their wedding rings, even though the relationship is not really a marriage anymore.  Some people continue to get together with friends, family, or neighbors and put on an act like they are still a happy couple.  What they may not realize is that people can see through that and may even want to say something, but they don’t know how to bring up the topic when the person in the failed or failing relationship is making it clear that they don’t want to talk about it.  Others may not know all the details and just how bad it really is, but they probably have some clue that things aren’t as good as they used to be.

I found this to be true anyway when I started opening up to my friends and family. Every single person understood what I had been going through because they all had seen and heard things that raised their eyebrows as red flags, but they didn’t know how and when to ask if everything was OK or what was going on.  I knew that certain people like my mom would not be surprised at all, but I was surprised at how many other people nodded their heads and couldn’t wait to chime in with their opinion of my husband as soon as I would say that things hadn’t been good between us for a while.  They all had a somewhat of an idea of what I had been going through but just didn’t realize how bad it really was.

So those of you who are keeping up appearances for whatever reason, you may not be doing as good of a job as you may think, and you may be making it an awkward situation for others.  Someone like me who has been there can spot signs of a failed relationship pretty easily.  So don’t be afraid to start talking about it.  It may be the first step in gaining support enough to move on to bigger and better things, or it may lead to you realizing that you’re not ready to give up and that you are willing to work things through with your significant other.  Either way, it’s much better to talk about the issues rather than pretend they don’t exist.

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

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2 thoughts on “Keeping Up Appearances

  1. I guess I wasn’t aware that there were things going on….for that, I apologize. I do remember once asking you how you did it all….and how come your husband wasn’t helping. I believe that you replied that he traveled for work a lot and that you had gotten really good at doing things yourself. I have to say that you’ve done an AMAZING job of raising three polite, independent, smart, and all around great kids. In this day and age…it’s very difficult to work things out together….and I admit there are times that I am not too happy with my husband. I am thankful, though, that he and I BOTH realized that we were a partnership in raising our kids and keeping our relationship well. I’m glad that we were able to do both.


    • No need to apologize. That was me still in the mode of keeping up appearances and only saying enough to answer the question, as I did a lot of for a long time. Working together as partners and feeling confident that you have a partner are very important but something I haven’t had or felt in way too many years. He works out of state and is only home on weekends, so for now it’s manageable until I can get back to work.


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