**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a close friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
A long-married couple recently filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences." The wife had been the primary breadwinner for most of the marriage, while the husband had stayed at home to take care of their children.
"This wasn't what I signed up for," she confessed over tea. "When we met, he was ambitious and had dreams of his own, but he let those slip away over the years. I wanted to stay true to our vows and make it work, but when I suggested he find a job or a hobby or something, he was resistant."
She loved her work and didn't mind the financial responsibilities. "It wasn't about the money. But I needed to feel inspired by him sometimes," she said. "Once the kids were older, we both had more time to focus on ourselves, but it seemed like he was just content to stay home and not pursue anything."
She said his "lackadaisical lifestyle" was unattractive to her, and it was the final straw that led her to file for divorce. "I don't think he ever realized how much I sacrificed for him or the strain it put on our relationship," she said.
In the end, they each had different goals in mind. She wanted the freedom to explore her other interests and passions while he was content being a stay-at-home dad.
Their last child entered college this fall, and she moved into an apartment nearby. He still lives in the house they once shared, and she visits with him often. "We both want what's best for the kids," she said.
Now that she's gone, he has taken up a few hobbies and is exploring options for a part-time job.
"It's a shame that our marriage had to end for things to change," she said. "But I guess everyone has to live with their choices."
"People with a high degree of healthy ambition are those with the insight and strength (strength that is often born of insight) to control the blind forces of ambition, that is, to shape their ambition so that it matches their interests and ideals, and to harness it so that it fires them without also burning them or those around them." —Neel Burton M.D.
The Price of Lack of Ambition
Ambition is more than career pursuits. It's about having a passion for life, which is essential for any successful long-term relationship. When ambition fades from one half of a couple, it can make the other person feel like they are making more sacrifices.
My friend's experience serves as a cautionary tale of how the comfort of monotony can eventually lead to the demise of a marriage. It's always possible to explore new interests and passions. Still, sometimes it takes a significant life event for that realization to take hold.
"A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions." —Marcus Aurelius
Motivation, Adventure, and Spontaneity
Relationships are more than just the sum of their parts. They are about exploring the world together and discovering new things. Without that sense of adventure, it's easy to become complacent in a relationship.
My friend may not have been able to save her marriage. Still, she gained something valuable from experience: the reminder to never let life pass you by without grasping at opportunities for excitement. And while it took her husband a while to come around, he has learned the same.
It's never too late to inject motivation, adventure, and spontaneity into your life. And while that doesn't always guarantee a successful marriage, it can provide a well-needed jolt of energy that refreshes any relationship.