Dear God, It is 10:30 at night and I can literally not keep my eyes open two hours ago. Why do you insist on waking me so late in the evening to write? What gives? This better be good. Amen
That’s right, I got up out of my bed, put on a pot of tea, and started writing when I should be sleeping. I do not have the time nor the energy for this. I’ve got kids to raise! That requires sleep, my friends! And my kids sleep good. I am so lucky to have kids that sleep good. My GOD does not let me sleep. It’s like I’m kept awake until I get my fancy pants out of bed and on the computer. I’ve been promised some sort of ground breaking material so here I go.
My therapist reminded me after the embryo transfer failed, that when couples go through a loss of a child, they tend to turn away from each other. They sulk in their loneliness and hoard the grief all to themselves. We don’t automatically reach toward a friend or a loved one when we are grieving. We dive into ourselves and wait for it to pass. Except it doesn’t pass; it festers.
My husband had been distant. He was “doing” all the things and keeping very busy. I tried leaning into him, but he would push away as lovingly as he could. “I’m fine.” He is the rock of the family after all. He has always been the stable one in all ways. Yeah, I’m not buying it.
I finally told him that if he didn’t tell me what was wrong I would assume he was mad at me. He rolled his eyes and said, that is definitely not what is going on. So I asked him to explain. It came down to his lack of control. He couldn’t control the outcome of our fertility treatments. He had experienced disrespect at work and felt as though he had lost some amount of control of that part of his job. We had just put our dog down that same week so he had felt helpless in that matter even though we chose to let him go peacefully. He is training for a big triathlon and is not feeling in control of his free time or training right now. He was not feeling like the rock. To him, it’s a black and white world for the most part. In control or out of control.
When I thought of it that way, I could understand his frustration. He wasn’t grieving in the same way I was. So I had to think of a way to be there for him that would help him most.
Now, I’m not what we would call a good housewife. I am not a perfectionist in any way. I hate doing dishes, laundry, or any cleaning, and can handle a good mess. So what I decided to work harder at was keeping the house clean. I pulled some of the “doings” away from him. He came home the next couple of days and just sat with the kids “being.” Although, one day he beat me to the punch and cooked dinner for us all. He is a pretty amazing guy like that.
Over the past 12 years of marriage I have gotten much better at helping him “do” and he has gotten much better at helping me “be.” I would say the first five years of our marriage our main arguments were over him pushing me to “do” all the time and me pushing him to “be” all the time.
- Him: You need to clean the house right now!
- Me: You need to be patient with me!
Then our arguments turned into arguments about our styles of arguing.
- Me: You yell too much!
- Him: Well, you don’t even respond to me!
- Me: You aren’t showing me very much love!
- Him: You aren’t showing me very much respect!
- Me: *Silence*
- Him: SEE!
(This is a paired down version of a 3-6 hour argument we had several times, generally in the middle of the night. Had we said these nice and clear things, it would have been better.)
Seriously people, this was our first five years. Marriage is hard.
Now here we are going through a hard situation and giving each other a break. I mean we aren’t perfect; we did argue about something I cannot even remember before we left for a six hour road trip. We didn’t speak the whole time. I listened to a book on building my legend (because I am amazing) and he listened to podcasts about economics (because he is a nerd). Throughout our weekend with family we gradually relaxed. We lost the embryos and our dog in less than five days. It was a hard week to say the least.
We really have come a long way in our marriage. I’m not sure we would have handled that so well in the beginning of our marriage. It has taken a lot of work though. Our compassion for each other should come naturally, but it has come with hard work over a period of years.
I had a friend recently ask me how I got my husband into therapy with me all those years ago. I can’t really remember, so I asked him.
There are two things:
- 1. I also recognized that there was an issue. and 2. Even though I didn’t think therapy would help (and even hated the stigma of therapy) it was just a matter of sucking it up and going anyway with an open mind. Ultimately it comes down to this: We are married and love each other. If one person feels that the marriage is slipping and believes that a specific intervention might help, it is the other person’s job (if they are fully invested) to give it a shot. – The husband
He went to every therapy session I asked him to go too. I cannot tell you how thankful I am he didn’t fight me on this. Therapists are not all created equal and we have had our share of crazies. He powered through all of the crazies with me. I’m not saying all therapists can save a marriage. Some folks go to therapists and decide to end their marriage. Shit happens. I’m not saying our marriage is bulletproof. What I’m saying is we give every possible effort to strengthen our relationship where we can. Even then I know it may not be enough. Today we are strong, but who knows what we will look like in ten years. I’m hoping we continue the trend of strengthening our marriage.
We still argue, because we are humans. Humans disagree. That is normal. I am still snarky, because honestly, I don’t really know how to turn that off. He has learned to not react to my snarkiness most of the time. I get it, I can be hard to read with my sarcasm. Also, I can be hilarious. He may or may not agree all the time.
He is a really smart guy and I feel threatened sometimes. I don’t know why, but I do. I’ve learned to appreciate his knowledge…most of the time. Other times I get super annoyed, because I am human.
We have learned to give and take. Marriage is kind of an amazing shit show. What other human could you live with in the same space, continually, for the rest of your life. We leave our parents home at 18 – from people who have cared for us, loved us, and given us everything they could…and we run. Yet we find a mate and all of a sudden we are like, “Yeah, I could totally live with this person that I’ve known for a couple years for the REST OF MY LIFE!”
WHAT ARE WE THINKING??
You throw in personal growth over time; changing interests. Throw in some medical problems, family problems, financial problems, kids and gray hair. Everything changes. You are not the people you were when you met. You are not the people you were two years ago. Yet, here you are spending the rest of your life with this one person. Honestly, it’s a scary adventure. What’s going to happen next? Somehow we get comfortable with this. We understand how they move and adjust. They understand how we move and adjust. It becomes this synchronized mesh where we are kind of doing the same thing, but also attempting to be individuals as well.
Marriage is a balance that flows with time. It’s an imperfect dance.
So that is what God brought me. Relationship advice I guess. Even though I don’t feel qualified to be giving such advice.
Bottom line, don’t give up on a relationship that once had love, without a fight.