The following is an anonymous guest post from a reader & new friend.
Last summer as our anniversary approached, my husband asked a question I did not expect, but could have predicted. With hope and an apparent need for affirmation, “Do you think we’ll make it another year?” My reply was an automatic. “Yes, of course.”
I never thought we wouldn’t. I never thought I would feel that we couldn’t make it work. I never, ever imagined I would be in this situation...contemplating the fate of my 23 year marriage. Exactly 3 months ago, I asked my husband for space and that space has grown wider since our separation. The last few months have brought many changes to my life as I struggle with the status of my marriage.
I am intrigued with, inspired and enlightened by Aidan’s Here Year and June’s theme is especially poignant for me right now. Struggling with my own questions, I felt uneasy and even guilty as I read about marriage as a “Work-in-Progress in this guest post in Aidan’s blog. I wonder when, if ever, is it okay to stop working on my marriage? In this post, Sheila asks, “How do you make love last? How do you hold onto a marriage?”
Over the past few months, I have struggled with recognizing my reality and answering those very questions. I was in denial. “How long can one partner remain present while the other is not? How long do I try? How much or how long do I give without receiving?
I struggle with breaking the vow to cherish and protect my husband in times of good fortune and times of adversity. In my rational moments, I know that he has been breaking his vow for the last few years. The partnership was dissolving for a while now. I blamed his business and employment misfortunes on bad luck for too long. With my Type A personality and overwhelming desire to be with my children as much as possible, I might have been happy forever doing more than 50% of the parenting and partnering. Yet when, by default, I took on more like 95% and when the family’s financial needs became my burden, I started to break. Sheila and her husband were able to overcome the demanding jobs, layoffs, lack of work, lack of money, resentments. Why can’t I? And, maybe that is the answer. I can’t overcome all of that alone. It takes two.
24 years ago I was planning what would be the most glorious wedding celebration. We have known each other since we were sixteen, dated after college and were completely committed to each other and to our future together. Our two children continue to be our source of immense happiness and, as a family we have had countless happy times. Now, as I wade through this change, through this muck, I am finding inspiration and meaning all around me. I recently read Arianna Huffington’s Thrive and, among the many messages I devoured, one stands out right now. She reminds us that when an airline crew is giving us instructions for emergencies, we are told to put our own air mask on before helping those around us. I do feel as if I have suffocated while trying to help my husband and keep my family together. I am proudly and sadly putting my own air mask on now and finally figuring out how to put myself and my priorities first.
Thank you, Aidan, for encouraging me to share my situation with your readers. Even though writing is one of my hobbies, I could not have gotten the words down without the advice you shared from both Anna Quindlen and Jane Green - I put my butt in the chair and started typing.
Any thoughts or reactions to this brave and powerful post?