A State Of The Marriage Address (& Surprising Secrets From A Happy, Unhappily Married Woman)

from April 2021- pandemic adventures

I flip my husband off when he’s not looking.

We sleep in separate bedrooms.

It started when I broke my ankle and I had to sleep downstairs on a mattress. I felt lonely for the first few days, then I tasted freedom for the first time in 15 years. I keep waiting for the day when I’ll miss the old us, and I’ll crawl back into my side of the bed. It hasn’t happened yet. Does he sleep in the middle now? I don’t even know.  

Yesterday we had no less than 5 petty arguments, the one I remember was about which way to go to get to our kids’ school. It ended with me shouting, “Fine! You’re right. I’ll be quiet!”

I’m not eager to converse with him in the early mornings or late at night, our finest hours are when he has a coffee and I have a turmeric tea and we sit together for 30 minutes around noon at the kitchen table while he’s on his lunch break.

For as ragged as our relationship feels, I’m religious about whipping up an egg sandwich and apple slices for him at lunch and talking about the latest interesting podcasts or books or ideas simmering in our heads.

Our commonalities are so few these days. I can sometimes spend hours dreaming about another life where I’m with someone who understands and genuinely loves my quirky interests. The more my husband and I drift apart, the more distinct and different we become. I once felt threatened by this, but now I think it’s neither good nor bad. It just is.

We don’t play pretend anymore, our ugly parts run wild and free.

There’s no cologne or cute clothes or anything else to cover up our stink and flaws. Could our relationship use some general hygiene, basic upkeep? Maybe.

Have we lost the original passion to make ourselves pretty for the other person? Is this a sign of coming collapse or growing intimacy? I don’t know.

I can’t remember the last time we uttered, “I’m Sorry.” Somewhere along the way we stopped. The hurts became habits and we developed calloused hearts.

Physical touch happens on accident when we need to reach over one another for a mug or a snack in the cupboard.

The state of our marriage sounds bleak, I know. But please, I’m not asking for pity, rather I’m giving you a peek into a married life I think is far more common than you’d expect.

On a day when the world celebrates love, we often think of those who are married as the luckiest and the happiest. They’re spooning in bed making mad love with a box of chocolates and candles on their bedside table.

But for many of us coupled up, we’re just having another normal day. Another day of trying, flailing, falling, discreetly flipping off our partners from the other room.

Marriage is a process laden with potholes of grief. From day 2 of our honeymoon in Hawaii I remember the revelation, waking me up from my Disney princess dreams- what if letting go was the whole point of love?

Damn. Why did a new bride need to discover this already?

But I did. I still carry the heaviness of that revelation with me.

I don’t have answers for why my marriage has always felt a little rough and worn around the edges. I’m taking a break from attempting to diagnose the exact problems because perhaps it isn’t a problem.

Could the secret to thriving relationships be a curiosity for what’s to come and determination to figure it out as we go?

I see how we’re slowly dissolving into two very distinct and separate people, we’re growing apart or so it seems, we’re discovering new aspects of ourselves we didn’t know were there. Is it cause for alarm, for an intervention, or is it an awakening, a path toward a more durable form of intimacy?

The answer remains unknown.

But I do know this: I am happily, unhappily married and this too is love.

__

“There’s a point when you can with both your desire for something that hasn’t happened and the understanding that you don’t need it to happen right now for you to be okay.”

from This Time It Could Be Different, pg. 359

“When the gentleness between you hardens

And you fall out of your belonging with each other,

May the depths you have reached hold you still.

When no true word can be said, or heard,

And you mirror each other in the script of hurt,

When even the silence has become raw and torn,

May you hear again an echo of your first music.

When the weave of affection starts to unravel

And anger begins to sear the ground between you,

Before this weather of grief invites

The black seed of bitterness to find root,

May your souls kiss.

Now is the time for one of you to be gracious,

To allow a kindness beyond thought and hurt,

Reach out with sure hands

To take the chalice of your love,

And carry it carefully through this echoless waste

Until this winter pilgrimage leads you

Toward the gateway of spring.

For Love In A Time of Conflict, John O’ Donahue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

2 Comments

  • Just like in a marriage, I wanted more. I hope this essay will turn into a book and everyone about to embark on the marriage journey will be gifted with its wisdom.

    Reply
    • You are too kind. A book about this topic sounds like a good challenge! I would hope to frame it in a way that marriage feels both delightful and dreadful 🙂

      Reply

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