Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ten Minutes: On the Relationship

There was a time, just before we made the decision to close the café, when I thought my marriage was over.  In fact, I gave up the café, in part, as a last-ditch effort to save what was left of our relationship.  That was almost two years ago; and we’re still together.  But I realized today, the fact remains that much of our marriage is indeed over.

I wonder if I have stumbled upon the reason that marriages end after thirty or forty years—when two people engaged in a long-term relationship shock friends and family by going their separate ways.  Surely it’s because the hurts and buggers and warts that were small and easy enough to ignore individually over the years just…pile up. If you can continue to ignore this thing that is now a mountain between you, more power to you.   But if you’re like me, you wake up one morning and realize you can no longer see the person whose head lies on the pillow next to yours…that you haven’t seen that person for a really long time.

Much like the period of revelation I endured after my Dad’s death—when I came to understand the not-so-nice aspects of my connection to my family—the café experience taught me things about my husband and the things we were capable of doing to each other that I would happily have lived the rest of my life not knowing.  It took me years to understand and assimilate the things I learned about my sisters after my father died.  Years, and distance.  I had to move a hundred miles away to accomplish the peace-making process.  And eventually, it was accomplished. 

So I find myself facing a similar stand-off with the husband.  What am I supposed to do, this time around?  I can hardly pick up and move 100 miles away.  Our income couldn’t support separate living quarters…  And besides, a marriage is not like a family.  When one person up and moves away, it traditionally signals the end of the partnership.  There’s not much precedent for getting enough distance to process things, then going back to the relationship in its new form.  So if I mean to heal these wounds and patch together a new relationship, I have to do it within the close quarters of our mutual home.  With only a wall or a hallway between us, rather than half a state.  It’s a challenge.

Back in the early days, I used to feel so lucky.  So fortunate that I had been gifted with a good husband, a good marriage that I in no way felt I deserved.  We were not just husband and wife…we were best friends.   We had shared interests, we could talk about things, we could have fun with each other.  When we were together, we were never alone.  Now, I’m not so sure whether all that wonderfulness was all in my head to begin with, or if it simply disintegrated under the weight of so many years and so much togetherness.  Because now, we can sit two feet from each other yet be utterly apart.  Distant.

Maybe I have the distance I need after all…          


  1. Oh Lisa...what can we do to help? If it's just listening, we're here.

  2. Like Jackie...here and listening.

    Being lonely in the sitting in a room with your "best friend" is the worst loneliness of all....I know....

  3. I am so sorry to hear this. But you have my support for anything you need from listening to reading and just being here for you.

  4. Thanks, guys... but don't be sad. This was meant to be a somewhat hopeful post. After all, we're still married...!

  5. Long term marriages are curious creatures...in our 27 years I have considered divorce more than once, wondered what in the world keeps us together, felt amazingly blessed to have this man in my life, been bored, thankful, angry, tired, bored...but we're still married, too. And most days I'm content with that reality.

  6. Exactly, Terri... And we're in the middle of one of those not-so-fun parts. But I anticipate things getting better, at some point.

  7. I can only tell you what I wish I had done. I wish I'd shut the door on years of little resentments and paid attention to the present moment. I wouldn't have written off things in the present as just a continuation and exaggeration of bad habits from the past. I would have been more up front about my feelings instead of letting them simmer. I would have given credit for the good things, even when they were little good things. Other than that, have faith in yourself and that the man you fell in love with is still there inside your husband.