Friday, June 23, 2006
There we stand, at the altar, in front of our family, friends, looking into each other's eyes and making promises about the future while not really knowing how it will unfold or what kind of people we will be when we encounter sickness and heath, richness or poverty, better times or worse. So, down the road, we have changed into different people. We have metamorphosized into fathers and mothers. Our relationship becomes more efficient and less emotional, and inevitably, we feel diconnected, discontent, lonely, and confused. We may even feel angry, betrayed, unloved and unappreciated. We seek solace. We seek comfort. If we are uncomfortable being vulnerable with our spouse, we seek it elsewhere. We get into trouble.
I have seen divorce. I have experienced it as a child, four times by my mother, whom I adore. I KNOW that marriage is hard. The way I see it is this. At the inception of marriage,we know enough about each other to make a judgement call about the future, but we are not static. We are all constantly changing and growing. We cannot expect our partners to be exactly the same from day to day, they and we, have the right to grow and evolve. I feel like I am just getting to know my husband of seven years. I do not feel that I know him completely and I never take for granted that he is an interesting, desireable person who chooses on a daily basis to spend his life with me. He is not "mine", I do not own him. His body is his and I am fortunate that he chooses to share it with me, as I choose to share mine with him. Our marriage is an exploration. As the years are passing, I feel that the roots of our feelings are growing, deeper, stronger. I am not afraid of infidelity. I appreciate my husband, look at him from the perspective of other women and let him know how handsome, sexy, loving, thoughtful and wonderful he is. He also verbalizes more and more his appreciation and affection for me. Over time, we are knowing each other more and enjoying the comingled experience of being together and parenting our children. What happens, though, when we encounter real hurdles? What happens when one of us gets sick. Really sick? Terminally ill? How do we cope? How do we hold ourselves together and take care of ourselves so we can take care them? How do we make sense of financial instability, infidelity, addictions? How do we survive as individuals so that the marriage will? Can we come out of such a conflict intact? Can we come out stronger? I think we can. I have hope, I have confidence that if we look only at ourselves, at our part, and are able to feel compassion for our partner, as much compassion as we would provide to a friend, we can survive. In marriage, we get confused and let the boundaries between husband and wife blur. We think of our spouse as us. We think of ourselves as one. We are hard on ourselves and hard on our spouse. We loose compassion, the ability to forgive human weakness, the inevitability of making mistakes. We get bruised and grow fearful. We harden and turn cold. We shut down and stop talking. We forget to voice our needs without anticipationg what the response might be. We manifest failure.
I am writing this to encourage a shift. We can heal. We can survive. We can love, even when times are tough. We can own up to our own issues. We can and should say, I was wrong. I am sorry. We can change. We can mean it when we say I love you. We can truly mean it when we make those promises about loving for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, until death do us part. We can love deeply and feel loved completely, for lifetimes.