A few marriages around me are in the process of having their wings clipped. The first of many we will see. I pray to God mine is not among the casualties. Sometimes I feel so fierce and I know I will never leave him. Sometimes I feel so trapped I can’t stand the misery of knowing I am bound. Sometimes, very seldomly, it occurs he may leave me. This is the only fate I have no control over. I accept this latter possibility as part of the risk of love and thank God for a husband who – at least so far – loves me and has the personal integrity to live up to our marriage vows.
I know too many people don’t try hard enough. But some try harder than our society expects them to. I think about a friend whose husband is having an affair; she turned to me Friday night and said, “Kelly, you need to put your heart and soul into your marriage. Do all the hard work up front instead of putting it off.” This, from the woman being betrayed. Her capacity for hard work beyond her personal pain astounds me. She is still willing to allow reconciliation for the sake of her family and what she knows there is to save. She has no illusions that divorce will solve anything – she believes your problems will follow you into the next relationship, too, unless you do the hard stuff now. Only then you’ll be dragging along a kid or two and blending families. More difficulties. More heartaches. More complicated, even though in the now it can seem the simple solution to split up.
I think of another friend, a father with four grown children and two young ones. At a playgroup he addresses another father who is expressing frustration at his partner. My friend calmly but strenously advises him not to let his relationship fall apart. He says if he had to do it all over again he would’ve worked harder to keep his first wife. He tells us his four adult children aren’t on speaking terms with him. He holds his infant son in his lap, looks his fellow man in the eye, and speaks in no uncertain terms.
Even as I write this, my friend of 21 years IMs me and tells me her husband and father of her two children moved out this morning.
So much pain. And more to be reaped in the lives of the children if these marriages don’t survive.
My marriage is going well – today. And has been for a few days prior. And, in general, for the past few months as we recover from the difficulties we’ve had over the last year. Lately we move two steps forward and only one step back – the relapses come when we become overwhelmed with our lives and the children (those DAMN children!). But today I am in a peaceful place. The last few days my love and desire for him are as strong as they were when we had nothing together – no family, no money, no home together – nothing but a strong friendship and – of course! – lust (ah… lust!).
I have adopted a five-year plan. That is, is there anything my husband is doing now that would preclude him satisfying me in five years? And can I, in turn, hope to improve significantly as a wife to him in five years? Do I trust him that he will still have his good character as father, husband, and lover – in five years? When I think of it that way, the answers are simple – Yes. Yes, I do. Trust is, after all, a choice. And how would a marriage and family be served if instead of trust you substituted suspicion, or petty dissatisfaction, or impatience?
But in the meantime, it makes life so much easier to have a few days or real connection, of real intimacy. To have a reprieve from niggling arguments. To talk with friends who, like myself, are trying hard to make things work.
They are all in my thoughts and prayers, as my own family is as well.