Hi Husband. (A Non-Apologetic Note On Our As-Is Marriage.)

I see you there scrolling my blog under the comforter of our once-shared bed at 10:30 pm. The words feel jagged, hard to digest.

The kink in your neck tightens with every sentence.

How could she write this about me, about us? Why the fuck is she shining a light on our lackluster relationship? (Okay you probably didn’t say fuck. You’re more composed and classy than me.)

Of course, I don’t know what exact thoughts were running through your mind the other night, that’s a good thing I suppose. I’m sure you felt devastated when you dared yourself to click on my confessions in The State Of My Marriage Address. I wonder if you even realized I released this post on the same day as the sacred Hallmark and slightly historical celebration of Saint Valentine? What a paradox.

Hi, I’m Charissa, a happy, unhappily married woman. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too.

When you wake up the next morning I immediately notice the crick in your neck. It’s the stiffest I’d ever seen you. For some reason, I feel like it’s my fault you can’t turn your head to look at me. What a stupid idea, so I didn’t entertain it for long.

We both know what happened at lunch that afternoon though as we sipped our tea and coffee.

You finally blurted out the truth – you read IT.

And I was shocked. You don’t look at my blog. You never comment on any of my weekly words. Until now.

My usual response in times past would be to I’m sorry my way back into right standing as a good wife, so I can assuage my guilt as soon as possible. It’s not the first time I’ve made public our marriage qualms and quirks.

Did you notice my lack of remorse? Were you expecting me to apologize? I don’t know, I haven’t asked you.

But it doesn’t matter because I’m not taking it down and I’m not apologizing.

I’ve even talked myself out of editing it. At least I could clean it up, I thought. Add a little sparkle and shine to our scuffed-up marriage.

But I’ve decided I’m not going to make it glimmer.

Instead I’m leaving it, as is, trusting the murky middle of a rusty marriage is still evidence of love and acceptance.

I know, from previous conversations, you have a hard time with this part of me. A writer who likes to offer up the intimate details of her life as a way of letting others know they have a travel companion, a fellow human who sees and understands.

The runner in me wants to dip as deep as I can into my reserves. Hold nothing back is her go-to mantra whether she’s tapping at the keys of a computer or sweating it out to tunes on the treadmill. Leave it on the course. I want to cross the finish line knowing I gave it my all.

I know you wish I had more tact.

That my writing didn’t feel so unkempt and seep sweat from every paragraph. We’ve argued about this before, about how I should present our marriage to others. Maybe keep it hush-hush so people, mainly our Christian friends or family, don’t worry about us and add us to their lengthy prayer list.

But I believe in the power of the raw and the ragged, the real and the fleshy, to bring about more compassion in in the world, in us.

I want to immerse myself in works of art that move, stir, and ignite my emotions. If I’m breathless and a little beat up – I know it’s a piece I won’t ever forget. Knowing I’m not alone in the human experience is in one word: healing.

Stories that swing and sway with sadness and hope don’t make me sick, they are my salvation. I want to collect them all. And I do. I know you know this about me. There’s no place in our house without a pile of books within reach.

I’m convinced our world needs more as-is, incomplete-and-in-process stories. Narratives where the house hasn’t been fixed up, remodeled, or staged, it simply stands there as proof it’s been lived in.

I want to show people how to be with their own shabby houses too. The peeling paint, unknown smells wafting from closets, crooked door handles, and moldy window panes are nothing to be ashamed of.

Wouldn’t you agree? We don’t hear enough of these kind of stories.

Every Netflix series showcases the glittery transformations. We’re a culture obsessed with the highlights, the quick-fix formulas, and life hacks. From disorganized to organized. From hoarder to minimalist. From Zero to a million. From office job to seven figures.

It’s rare to receive the full drawn-out account. The swerves and curves would take too long- people would undoubtedly drift off, or would they? Would it be too boring, not entertaining for the big screen or a best seller? Most likely. The ending also wouldn’t deliver. It wouldn’t be monumental or awe-inspiring, fit for a Disney classic or a church testimony.

I’m not trying to write a best-seller or the next script for the big screen or follow the perfect scope of a hero’s journey, I’m only trying to process my way through this experience in real-time of being human with you.

However our story decides to serpentine, I want you to know this one thing:

I’m here for it.

I’m not with you for the gooey romance. I’m not with you so we can show the world what a glamorous relationship renovation looks like.

I’m here for the rocky path. I don’t know where it will lead us, but I’ll give every step my imperfect presence and unfiltered perspective.

I hope to look at our ramshackle house one day and be damn proud of how far we’ve come, all we’ve weathered and…how much life we’ve lived.

These are the stories I want to write.

And I won’t apologize for that.

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Okay, go to bed now,

Your Wife

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I’ve found these podcast episodes so insightful:

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