This evening I used my “blog” content to have a deep conversation with Stuart. Sneaky yes. Deep, not so much but I got more than I bargained for.
I had my “Things That Shouldn’t Be Put In Writing” journal in hand and asked him to tell me three things that he thinks ruin a marriage. His responses were short and sweet, like me. He said, “Cheating and finances.” He couldn’t come up with a third.
Seeing an opportunity, because he actually answered instead of changing the subject or leaving the room, I pried a little more. Side-note, he couldn’t leave the room because we were in the truck. I love me a captive audience.
My next question was obvious. I’m sure he saw it coming. He was a hostage in his four wheeled prison. I guess he could have turned up the radio but he didn’t. So I asked, “what do you think makes a good marriage? Short and sweet again, this time coming up with four responses. Honesty. Communication. Mutual goals and common interests.
I sat without saying a word. I’m sure he was in shock. I’m never quiet. The silence stemming from the thoughts that were rolling around in my head. I heard him. I heard him loud and clear. Memories came flooding back as that part of my brain that stored that stuff was no longer dormant. Thus the reason for my silence.
Let’s venture back to the two things that quickly came to mind that he asserted will destroy a marriage.
Cheating. There was a lot of scar tissue on this wound. At one point in our marriage I was done. So was he. I was attending college and he was working. We were going through the motions and had been for several years. I told him several times that I was lonely. That I needed him to talk to me more. I wanted him to tell me that I was special. To just pay attention to me. He could not. We had grown too far apart or maybe had never grown together at all. I sought out attention in anyone that would oblige. I was on the verge of making some detrimental decisions that would forever change the course of our marriage. I had gone as far as going to the court house and drawing up divorce papers. I was going to file. He was looking for houses. We had decided that my daughter would stay with me and the boy would go with him. We weren’t sure who would get my ‘Ole Girl, Nana. It killed me to think that she would wonder why both of her humans weren’t with her anymore. Stuart packed his bags at one point and went back home. The minute he walked out the door, my heart felt nothing. I was filing for divorce. I was bound and determined to find my soul mate. I had been talking to someone for awhile that fit the bill, so I thought and that discovery helped make that door closing and watching Stuart drive away not so bad. Well, that is until the sun came up the next morning. My heart felt as if it had been ripped from my body. I was lifeless. How did we let this happen?
Finances. I’ve never been impressed with money. I know you have to have it but it didn’t and doesn’t consume me. I think he made mention of money because not having it puts one hell of a strain on a marriage, no matter how bonded you are. We were not connecting at all so money was just something else to gripe about. I trusted his judgement then but there was just no money to plan for a future. Heck, we were barely making ends meet in the here and now. To this day when it comes to our finances and our future, I trust him completely. Money truly is the root of all of evil, or at least one heck of contributing factor.
A few days after he left, I begged him to come home. We were not living in the Love Shack anymore. Honestly, there are about four years during this time period I wish I could erase. Not go back and redo but completely freaking erase. Our kids were affected. Family relations were strained. Friendships lost. How did we let this happen?
He did come home. I remember laying shoulder to shoulder on a yellow and orange bedspread, both of us crying.
I don’t remember what was said. I do remember the tears.
We decided to give it another go. I’m sure there were conditions discussed and such. Trust was lost on both ends. Anger. Bitterness. We were pissing in the wind, folks. Sorry, but best analogy by far.
I graduated in 2004 and things started looking up but not without a lot of blood, sweat and more tears.
I got a job teaching. For graduation we bought a boat. The purchase of that BlueWave Center-console marked a turning point for us. We still have that boat. I don’t think I will ever be willing to let her go. It reminds me of the storms we weathered. She’s a symbol of where we had been and a stark reminder not to venture back into those shark infested waters.
How did we get there. Oddly enough we weren’t abiding by any of his criteria regarding a good marriage. The honesty was lacking on both parts. There was one sided communication. I was talking, he wasn’t listening. Probably because I was talking at him and not to him. Mutual goals! Are you kidding me? Our only mutual goal was trying to figure out how to smother the other one in their sleep without getting caught. Common interests. It wouldn’t have mattered. We couldn’t stand each others presence.
I open this wound in hopes of reaching just one of you. Take heed and pay attention to what we did to get us there. This is a very scant list of root causes but oh what a mighty list it is.
Men, if your wife is telling you she needs your attention, give it to her. Women, talk to your husband not at him. Together, sit down and figure out what your goals are. Don’t be afraid to be honest. You will both be better off for it. And for goodness sake, find something that you both like to do and do it! Don’t wait until the kids get older. Don’t convince yourself that there is always tomorrow. Just do it.
“A happy marriage is about three things: memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes and a promise never to give up on each other.” Surabhi Surendra