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I can’t or I won’t

I remember when I was almost giving up on my marriage. Everything frustrated me. Why can’t he just see that I needed his help. Why can’t he just be romantic? Why can’t he…… just be what I want him to be. I got to the breaking point and I told my brother, I just can’t. I simply just can’t cope anymore. If this is what marriage is all about then I am not doing again. And he said to me – ”You can’t or you won’t? ”. I said ‘well, both’. I am just tired of trying.

Now, when I had passed that low point in my life, I soon realised that there was a difference between I can’t and I won’t. What I was really saying was ‘I won’t take this nonsense’ – unfortunately, marriage is full of nonsense, you just have to brace yourself and wade through the nonsense to the things that actually make sense.

Many of us are quick to say I can’t but when you say I can’t, what exactly do you mean?

I have since found out that there are 4 different types of “I can’ts”.

There is the “I can’t” because it is not physically possible. I can’t grow wings and fly away. I can’t make myself shorter. These are physically IMPOSSIBLE. So in this instance you just have no choice. It is out of your control.

Then there is the “I can’t” because I don’t know how. I can’t fly a plane, not because it is physically impossible, but because I don’t have the training, skills, and knowledge. I can’t start a business, not because it is impossible but It is a matter of skills/knowledge acquisition.

Then there is also the “I can’t” because of timing. I can’t now but I can later. A baby can’t crawl now, partly from lack of skills, but also from lack of development. It is not time yet. Many times, this is a combination of timing and skills. A person may say, “I can’t be a doctor.” But by going to school, learning the skills, and time taking its course, the student becomes a doctor. This is a case of “Not Yet.”

Then there is a more dangerous “I can’t.” The one we use all too often when we find ourselves in a difficult situation. It is not really ‘I can’t’ but more of “I won’t.” I cant forgive that person (more like I won’t forgive). It may feel like “can’t,” but what you are really saying is I “won’t.” It is always possible to forgive. So there is no “can’t.” I can’t love that person (more like I won’t love that person). It is about a willingness — or not. It may take time, energy, and understanding, but it CAN be done. The question is, will you do it.

So when you say “I can’t love him”? Many times, it is about knowledge and timing. And sometimes, it is an unwillingness. With patience and time, you can learn what it takes to make him feel loved. This also comes with your willingness to do it. It is easier to stop trying to work on your marriage. It is easier to let it go. To avoid the struggle. But trust me easy is not always best.

Marriage problems can feel overwhelming, and it is far easier to say “I can’t” when the process to a better marriage involves fear, inconvenience, or sacrifices that we are unwilling to endure. ‘I can’t’ ultimately is an excuse not to participate in life. Your fears and emotions grip you and keep you from moving forward. But just on the other side of your crisis is an amazing relationship with your spouse. Always remember that emotions are often short-lived and consider whatever problem you are experiencing as a NOW problem rather than a FOREVER problem. Nothing lasts forever.

So the next time you say ‘I can’t’ – I can’t take it anymore, I can’t be married to him anymore, ask yourself if it is because you don’t have the ability or the resources to get the result or what you are actually saying is ‘I won’t’ which is more of a personal choice not to move forward. You can, you just don’t want to.

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