The following is a guest post by Meg McMahon.
One evening recently, I brought some dishes from the other room into the kitchen. I had not been in the mood to empty dishwasher, refill it, and thereby restore order and peace to the counter. I added the dishes to the pile atop the counter. They quickly teetered and cascaded to the floor before I could catch them. The creamy-yellow fiesta ware bowl, a wedding gift nearly 13 years ago, fell victim in the crash.
The noise piqued my inquisitive seven-year-old's interest. She must have been relieved that this mess did not have her fingerprints on it. While I was annoyed this had happened, I modeled the “Accidents Happen” posture and set to cleaning up the mess.
She stood over my shoulder as I handled the cracked pieces and lamented, “Oh, we loved that bowl.” I was amused by our daughter's response. The bowl is part of set that now is one short, but LOVED? Not so much.
My husband's response? Silence. I looked at the mess I had created by not doing the simple clean-up earlier; the piled up dishes; their crash to the floor; my husband's non-response. This is the shape my marriage takes most days.
I've become accustomed to the one-way marriage model. He cooks; I clean up. He makes messes everywhere he goes; I wait him out, and finally clean them up. Our daughter stirs in the middle of the night; I wake up. I discuss something that bothers me; he offers no response. He's admitted that there are double standards, and has the audacity to confirm that they work for him.
My calm reaction to the broken pieces has come with strenuous practice. I work hard at remembering that the only thing I can control is myself, my reactions, and my behavior. I couldn't undo the break, so why get upset? In this practice, I've come to learn that my husband's silence is all he can offer. I've unwound the nasty knot of thinking that attaches some other meaning to his actions and silences.
This marriage is not the one for which I signed up. I was certain that warmth and intimacy, partnership and camaraderie were part of the plan. I'm exhausted by the solo parenting I do. I am lonely for conversation that includes topics that interest me. I'm sad for my husband because he doesn't seem to know that there's more possible for us than this practical arrangement we are living.
I love to love and for it to be returned. I am more than just a wife in a cracked, broken marriage. I am smart, funny, inquisitive, loving, compassionate, and also horribly mismatched. I'm an upbeat woman whose optimism has slowly drained. I know, with a counselor's help, that this fissure won't be repaired. I will not stay forever, but I am staying for now. I'm determined that my tenacity, independence, and other qualities will define me--not the disappointment of this marriage. I've learned how to pick up the pieces, keep what can be saved, and move forward.
Thank you, Meg.
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