May 13, 2008

Loveless Marriage Part 2

This part two of A Loveless Marriage. You can read the original post here. BTW, for those few people who know me and are curious who is this about, I am not going to tell you. I have intentionally adjusted things so that you won't be sure who it is about. If he/she wants you to know, they'll tell you.

I think that one of the most horrific events I have ever been to was to D's funeral. If you are lucky you will never have to see parents bury their child. I remember more from that summer and that day than I mention. The look of shock and horror on his parent's faces was something that I won't forget.

And I won't forget our tears either. I say our tears because there was a group of us there who were tight. We had basically grown up together and in many ways losing D was like losing a brother.

When the phone rang and you told me your story I sat and listened. I tried to be quiet so that you could get it out. I didn't want to offer any suggestions on what to do or how to fix it, at least not until I was sure that you were ready and interested.

What I didn't share during that first phone call was a memory from D's funeral. If you recall we buried him. I couldn't stand the idea that some stranger would do that. They didn't know him. They didn't love him. It didn't matter how sensitive or nice they were, they would never understand the profound loss we suffered

It was the middle of summer and we were shoveling under a hot sun, in black suits. I was drenched in sweat. As I took a break from shoveling you came and stood next to me. For a moment we said nothing and then you hugged me. You buried your face in my chest and sobbed. My own tears fell on your head. It was a moment when n o t h i n g m a d e s e n s e.

I remember the shrieks of pain and sorrow. I remember holding onto his grandfather's jacket as he stood graveside, scared that he would slip and fall into the grave, or drop dead on the spot. I felt angry. I felt sad. I empty. At times I was numb.

Fast forward to the present and listening to your recitation of how your marriage was failing. You know that I don't have an opinion about that. I offer no judgment on whether you married the right guy. I don' t know him well enough. He seemed nice enough, but nice enough isn't the same as being the right one.

And when push comes to shove I believe in the right one. I don't think that relationships last without work. I don't believe that you and your spouse stay the same. I change. You change. We change. Sometimes we grow together and sometimes we grow apart.

My opinion about a lasting relationship hasn't changed. Some relationships will not last. It is not always nice. It is not always fair. It is life. I hate saying things like that, they sound so trite.

You told me that you think that you have to survive within the marriage until the children go to college. I don't think that you can plan that far in advance. Five years ago you never would have believed that you could be in this place.

He may not be a monster. He may not be an addict, a gambler or have any relationship destroying vices either, but the cracks in the dam started a long time ago. You don't wake up and realize that you don't love him anymore without there being more to the story. It didn't happen overnight.

It is not an indictment of you or him. It is not a comment on what kind of wife, mother, husband, father you are. It simply is what is.

If there were no children you'd be out and you know it. The goal of protecting them is the right thing to do, but let's be real about it. Don't martyr yourself to an unhappy decade just to try and spare them.

I say that out of love and concern for you and them. You won't make it. Resentment will build and things will deteriorate, or so I suspect.

The question to me is not about surviving until the kids are older. The question is what are you going to do now. What are you going to do this month, this summer, this fall, this winter, this year. What is your plan.

The angst you feel is because you haven't got a plan. You don't know what you are doing and you don't do well without one.

My best advice is to figure out a short term plan and then re-evaluate later on. Break it up into chunks and then look back.

Remember that feeling we had at D's funeral. We weren't even 30. Things can happen. Car accidents, cancer, plane crashes, lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Don't suffer through a decade and hope that you'll find happiness down the road. Life is too uncertain, too fragile.

Don't forget that your friends love you. Whatever direction you choose we'll be there to laugh or cry with you. Try not to sing, because then we will cry. ;) Just kidding.

And don't forget that this post will self destruct in 30 seconds. ;) You know how to find me.


V-Grrrl said...

I recently gave advice to a friend in the midst of a troubled marriage that is similar to yours. I told him not to think long-term but to think short-term. To get up in the morning and accept that he is married and to be a husband again that day. No heroics required, no grand gestures, no lectures on communication or expectations of perfection--just the commitment to being an ordinary husband and partner for that day.

Then you go to bed, wake up and do it again. One day at a time.

The day you truly can't do it, can't be a husband or wife for even one more day is the day you know it's really over.

I practice this advice myself when my marriage disconnects. I try not to obssess about the past or the future and just commit myself to the marriage in 24 hour blocks.

Kol Ra'ash Gadol said...

I agee that surviving a marriage until the kids are out is not the way to go - because if that's the attitude, it will just get worse and worse,. that's an outlook that guarantees that you won't get through the rough patch. And all marriages have them, all of them. We live in a disposable society,so we're inclined to think that if it doens't work throw it out. But the truth is that (barring abusers, and some really bad matches, which do happen) most marriages aren't about the right one, they're about "the deal."
Every marriage has a deal, and over time that deal will change, and the question is whether or not you cna put the work into renegotiating the deal - whether implicitly or explicitly. it can't be done if you don't work at it. Survival doesn't help you negotiate the rough spots, only active participation does.
death of a child is the hardest thing to deal with - it has repercussions for years, because almost no deal can figure out what to do with all those bad feelings, no matter how it happened.
There's no good response, except that maybe, just maybe, the other person also knows what you feel, in a way that no one else ever can.

Jack said...


One day at a time is solid advice. Sometimes it is hard to go beyond that.

We live in a disposable society,so we're inclined to think that if it doens't work throw it out.

I don't necessarily believe that most married people feel this way, but maybe I am wrong.

Every marriage has a deal, and over time that deal will change, and the question is whether or not you cna put the work into renegotiating the deal - whether implicitly or explicitly. it can't be done if you don't work at it.

Every relationship requires work. I think that you are right about renegotiating the deal. The question my friend needs to answer is at what point do you decide that you can't come to terms.