Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You Will Still Be Alone (And Other Thoughts On Marriage)

There are some things that married people do not tell single people. Some of those things should not be told, and you know it as soon as you are told one of them. Ooo, thanks for that disgusting detail of your life. I need to make a call now, to my THERAPIST.

But some things are not gross or inappropriate or sicky-sweet-I-want-to-stick-a-fork-in-your-puppy-dog-eyes. I guess they fall into that special category of authenticity (SUCH an overused word for such an important gift) that few people achieve with someone whom, well, they're not married to. But since I really want you to know, and I think maybe no one has told you b/c they're basically just afraid to open up, I'm gonna go ahead and share something with you.

When you marry the love of your life, your soulmate, the one you waited for with baited breath, The One From the LORD Just For You (or however you want to frame it)...you will still, essentially, be alone.

Okay. Take a deep breath.

You may as well know this now. Some of you may feel so alone now in singleness that you hope for some respite, some greener grass just over the hill, as a way of dealing with the present moment. And it is definitely true that a healthy and blessed marriage does offer its participants the simple joys of comraderie and conversation and intimacy.

But please search your heart right now. Because when two people live together, it happens sometimes that even legitimate needs (physical, emotional, spiritual, whatever) cannot be met by the other person. You will be tempted to believe that your partner won't help you - that if they really wanted to, they could. You will be saner and more peaceful if you believe that for whatever reason on this particular day, they just can't.

Another dynamic that happens often is that of victim/rescuer or child/parent. Let me just go ahead and tell you that every married couple at some point(s) has to figure out what they're going to do about the child/parent thing. One partner needs some "help" (either perceived or directly asked for), which seems innocent enough...so the other partner gives the "help", and ends up acting or sounding very maternal/paternal in the process. This is a complex issue, isn't it? Because married folks are supposed to help each other - we're supposed to care, listen, empathize. But hear me carefully now - we are not meant to solve each other's problems, rescue each other from the consequences of our behavior, or be amateur therapists for each other. And why? Um, because you are no longer a child!

You have to see yourself and your partner as two equals - two grown adults who are each capable of taking care of their own basic needs. Any breakdown here can cause a laundry list of problems in your relationship.

But still, a legitimate need is not being met. And you find yourself alone with something you would rather not face alone. What do you do with this?

You have some options:

1.) Call your mama and complain. He will love this.

2.) Call anyone and complain. He will be elated.

3.) Flee, ignore, or deny the aloneness. Ever known someone with revolving door relationship syndrome? I have a hunch about them.

I will now confess that I have done all of the following:

1.) Turning up the pressure. Maybe he doesn't understand how important this is.

2.) Turning up the volume. Maybe he can't hear me.

3.) Pouting, glowering, and other passive-aggressive behaviors which El Jefe either does not notice or is smart enough not to acknowledge.

4.) Increasingly, I give the brutha a break, pull up my big girl britches, and get on with life. Because I remember how many times he has done exactly the same thing for me. Except he doesn't wear girl britches.

AND...I am more and more often brave enough to face the aloneness. The Bible tells me that I am never alone; I believe this. But you know what? Sometimes, I am alone. I feel like the Psalmist who sings, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God...My soul is downcast within me." It is a mystery that I believe originates in the brokenness of my soul and my family and your family and our humanity. But it is not, it can not...and it will not be the end of the story.

Take heart, my friends. You may still feel alone at times, but you are never without your Source.


DISCLAIMER: Lest any critical minds be tempted to believe that I am unhappy in my marriage or that my husband does not sacrifice himself on a daily basis for me and our little family, please allow me to assure you that I married one of the most unconditionally giving and forgiving men on the planet. Certainly the best one I know. I love him, and he loves me, and Jesus loves us - and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.

1 comment:

joeutter said...

Strong thoughts, RP. & let me agree firmly that your hubby is one of the best men I know, too. You are both blessed to have eachother. -JPU