Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Your marriage is worth saving - a letter to a friend

I don't know you very well.  You are really the dear friend of a dear friend and I see you here and there.  I don't know the specific details of your marriage and your heart, but I heard that your marriage is on the rocks and my heart went out to you.  I hate it when people give me unwanted advice, so I won't give you any.  I'll just tell you about me.

I have sat alone in church looking at the apparently happy couples all around me, arm around each other while the preacher preaches, feeling utterly lonely.  I sat there wondering why my marriage doesn't look like anyone else's, why my husband wasn't next to me and did everyone else wonder what was wrong with me too.  Could they see the broken relationship that I was half of? 

I have sat side by side with my husband on the couch of many a couple's counselor over the years, emotionally raw and sad and so full of fear and anger and pride.  When the counselor asked the question, "Do you want to continue with each other?" I wanted to scream both, "NO!" and "YES!" and desperately wanted to hear what he had to say first because I didn't want to be the first to say it, either way.  I only wanted the pain of being in a relationship with him to stop.  I wanted it to be his fault and not mine.  I wanted to be the victim and cry and then he'd see how much he had hurt me.  I didn't want to admit that I had been wrong, or selfish, or distant and disinterested, or demanding, or used him as my verbal whipping boy when I was angry about other things, or lonely or sad, and had been a hormonal wreck that wasn't very fun to be around.  And I didn't want it to be over because that somehow meant I had failed in a monumental way and because some part of me still loved him.

I didn't want my heart to be that vulnerable to him, this man that I loved, but didn't (and sometimes still don't) trust.  I didn't want to see what he had done for me, for us, for our family over and over again, sacrificing himself for us, carving out a life and becoming a better man.  I only wanted to see when he screwed up and made his own mistakes, while ignoring or expecting unending forgiveness for my own.

I wanted it to be about me and my needs, and his should not matter.  Even though I never thought or said that out loud to myself, it was the reality of how I acted in relationship with him.  There are details of our marriage that I'd tell you in person, but since this is out in the world for everyone to read, I won't.  (Because I love him and want to cover him with that love.  Not cover up for him, cover him.  It's different.)  But over the last 9 years, we have been through hell and back.  Luckily, in my ear, I had a sponsor, a mentor if you will, who had been down the same path I was walking and her marriage had ended in divorce.  Even though she fought for it, her husband did not.  I'll share what she would remind me of, over and over when I'd call her in tears, ready to give up and walk away.

She asked me if I thought getting divorced would make it easier and I said, "No, but at least I won't hurt any more!"  Her reply always shook me out of my self pity. "Yes, you will." She said, "But it will be a more sad and lonely kind of hurt with no resolution because there is no hope that the two of you will ever get to a better place." And I knew she was speaking from experience.

She reminded me that wherever I ran, my baggage would follow.  All the stuff that comes out when I am tired, lonely, hurt, and angry would come out again and again.  With someone else, or toward my children and friends if I never got married again.  It's like that children's story, "Going on Bear Hunt."  which says, "You can't go under it, you can't go over it.  Oh no.  You have to go through it."  And I did.  And I still am.  And it sucks.  And it is glorious.  And it is hard.  And I hate it and wish it was easy.  And I love it and am grateful that the crap in my heart is being changed and that our love is deeper because of it.  Imperfect and still needs work (and man, he can still dive me up a wall), but it is deeper and richer today than it has ever been.

I'm not saying that I did it, so you can too.  I am saying it's worth it, even though it is really, really, really freaking hard.  It really is.  I hope you don't give up.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...