Are you ready for a great big secret? A big one.
Marriage is really hard.
And let me tell you this: that I am the one who has changed. Over and over again, it has been me. I’m the one who suddenly wanted these dazzling girl children. The one who wanted to move home. I’m the one who somehow, suddenly returned to the “fold” after so many years away. I am the one who began to worry about everything, who started to hate road trips with no fixed destination, who loathes sand in my bathing suit or shoes and the sheer amount of stuff that accompanies this family to the beach.
It has been me.
Things have been hard over here for a long time. They got really real on Sunday night and I had to miss Walking Dead. They were still pretty real on Monday, and then today he said, “tell me what to do. what do you want me to do?”
I was surprised at my own answer. I’m one of those awful people thinking up a reply while you’re still talking (hey, knowing I suck is half the battle!) and I didn’t think at all, I just said, “I want you to be happy. No matter what that means. I want you to be happy.” He said, “and I’m not, and I don’t know why.”
So then I went in to full on FIX mode. I thought, I will fix everything I haven’t been able to fix since all of this, this great dream of how we wouldn’t be like everyone else started. Then we had to do all the checking into insurance policies and all the dancing around the words that were said that can’t be taken back, the hurt that was inflicted.
Tomorrow my HR lady will tell me who is in our area. And we will make an appointment and we will see what we can get accomplished.
Remember “Can This Marriage be Saved?” from Redbook magazine? I used to read that with an attention that was borderline weird for a teenager who was not married or anything close to it. It seemed like it was honest. Sometimes some brave therapist had the audacity to say, ya’ll are messed up. And I’m so sorry, but there isn’t any help for this mess, no pulling this truck out of the quicksand; let the tide take it out sea.
And I am being honest. And if you know us, truly know us, I won’t believe you if you tell me you are really surprised when you read this. I really feel like, as my friend Cindi said, if we all knew the worst things about each other, wouldn’t we behave differently toward each other? And I don’t need anyone to change how they talk to me, I hate to be handled. But I feel like it is important to tell the truth. And I feel like marriage is one area where we all just sweep it all under the rug and then the next day the news is moving from person to person that so and so are getting divorced. And you deserve better than that, and so do I.
I think a big part of the issue is that he feels that I have moved away from him, like I belong to the church now. But I don’t. And I don’t know how to make him feel included when he won’t include himself. And we already talked about this and I already told him I was writing about him.
I said, I will let you read it before I publish it.
He said, I trust you.
And I have moved away. Unwittingly, by accident. I have moved into a deeper call, into a deeper place than the one I used to occupy. Into wanting to be stained glass glory light when before it didn’t even matter to me at all. And now it matters immensely, and now it’s all I can talk about, it’s bubbling out of me, this joy and heartache stream that comes from having your heart split wide open.
But what I am saying is, is that even though I have changed, constantly changed, I think we can do this. I believe that we can. I am not perfect. I am flawed and there are places inside of me that are broken and sharp and jagged.
Tonight the sky looks like a dome. Its blue and filled with wispy clouds, it has that odd twilight glow, and the lake looks like matte finished glass.
Tonight I sat in the parking lot listening to Grace Potter sing to me while he ran in to get the tortilla shells I thought I had and apparently didn’t buy in some fit of frugality. She said:
Oh lord its lonely, oh lord, its mighty cold. And I don’t want to live this way, afraid of growing old…. I’m scared to tread the red road that leads to Galilee. I am my own ragged company.
And I watched the clouds move across that big dome. And I felt the heat blowing out and warming my feet. And I thought about how scary all of this is, this red road. How narrow the tightrope is, how hard it is to balance, why so many people fall. How hard it is for me to pour all of this out for you.
I don’t want to see comments like “you’re in my prayers”. I don’t want to see sympathy or empathy. I don’t want advice on the holistic treatment of two people who grow apart and come back together and grow apart again, for the cracks created as the solid foundation stretches and groans.
I just wanted to be honest with you about how hard it is to be married to someone that you love. About how hard it is to grow, to feel called to be stained glass glory light, but the kind that doesn’t blind or burn the person whom you love the most.
I still love you. I still love him. And we will be ok.
And if we all are honest with each other, maybe we can make the world a kinder place. Maybe.