Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Limbo

It is such a strange place to be... this limbo of my marriage.

I met Brenda on Leap Year Day 1980. She was on my porch, brought over by a friend, and my heart was struck as if from a pistol.

Twenty-seven and a half years later I am wondering: is it all over?

There are big questions which need answers. Some answers will not arrive soon, they need to be revealed over time, perhaps more time than we have.

Can we survive her two affairs? Can there be trust? Can there be respect? Can there be love?

How do I feel about it? Do I want this marriage anymore?

In a word, yes.

Not because I need someone to feed me, clean my house, to be the yin to my yang, the keeper of the hearth while I hunt the stag.

I want this marriage because I love her. I want this marriage because I think it is best for both of us. I want this marriage because I committed my life to it.

This isn’t about sex, or about my needs. I want her to be happy. I want her to walk beside me into the shadows of old age.

It may not be up to me. It takes two people to make a marriage. It only takes one to dissolve it.

I think she wonders how can I forgive her, how can I live with the uncertainty her straying has caused.

For me this isn’t about trust. For me this is about emotional and spiritual health.

Now before I say another word, it is important I accept my responsibilities, acknowledge my failures.

Sex. I have a low sex drive, somewhat repaired with hormone injections these last couple of years. The inertia of those early years together set us up for a sex life that was not healthy, especially for her. I acknowledge that I have not provided her what she has needed.

Domestic equity. She has done too much of the work in the raising of our children, operating our home, fiscal planning. I ceded too much of my responsibilities to her. And though I can point to changes made over the years, once again inertia, habits of living, have continued to place more on her shoulders than was fair.

The current situation is about emotional and spiritual health. I know I am probably wrong about many of the causes which I think lie beneath her actions, but here are a few thoughts.

She has wondered how I will be able to trust her again. The truth is that her infidelity is a greater burden for her than it is for me. Regardless of the outcome, she will have to live with those consequences. If she leaves me for another she will have to decide what to do with them. No matter what she does, stays or goes, she will carry those choices with her. She will have to decide whether to reveal them or hide them. In revealing them she will be sowing seeds of doubt in every future relationship. If she hides them she will not be trusting that the love is strong enough to bear the truth.

Her affairs provided her something she craves. They told her she is beautiful, that she is loved. They were words and deeds laid upon her which made her feel special, because they came fresh from another (my praise for her beauty and intelligence and large heart have been dismissed for years). Her affairs told her she is desirable, that she is young.

Which leads me to another thought about why she is where she is... that she does not like growing old.

An affair can make one feel the way one does when starting out in life. Everything is swept off the table, there is a clean slate, no history no preconceptions.

I wonder about her... about her physical body... is she approaching menopause? Is this latest affair a way for her to start a new life as her body reinvents itself? Is it a mid life crisis born of the anxieties of aging, of the grief of never having children, of life being something other than she had hoped?

And what of her love for this other man? My gut tells me it is infatuation and lust, not true love. But of course, I am hoping that deep inside her heart is the steady love we have had for each other that is simply awash by the passion of this fresh flood, a flood that will run its course, perhaps pushing her heart into a new river bed that will eventually run dry when she finds that she does not trust her heart with this new relationship, as she did with ours.

My deepest feelings about this affair isn’t about it being the act which murders our relationship, but that it is a symptom of an illness she has.

The failure to keep her wedding vows (and the renewal of her wedding vows) isn’t a death knell of our marriage. It is a fever which has made her spirit sick. Perhaps it will lead to the death of our marriage, but it isn’t up to me to abandon her when she is sick. It is up to me to understand what she needs, to provide what I can to make her healthy, even if it means that it helps her to move out of my life.

I promised to love her in sickness and in health, that includes her emotional and spiritual health.

Can I forgive the hurt I have received from her? Of course. Can I forget the hurt? Probably not. Can I trust her again? Maybe.

How would that work? How could I regain a trust that has been shattered, patched back together, and shattered again?

It depends on her healing. I fear that her affairs are both symptomatic of deep hurts and will damage her future relationships, whether with me or another.

I fear that the hurts of her life, childhood abuse, a sense of abandonment, a loss of a stable childhood which created in her the need to take control, may be behind the affairs. Her alcoholism is another symptom of the hurts springing from childhood injuries and disappointments. Add to this the hurts and disappointments I am responsible for, and then the terrible hurts and disappointments of the death of our first child, the realization of the mental handicaps of our subsequent children, the realization that one of them is dangerously fascinated with fire, the guilt of the loss of our church because of that fire, the burden for caring for a mother who provided her so little care...

I believe that while I bear some of the responsibility for what did not happen in our marriage, I also believe that she has an illness deep inside which flows from those old wounds. She needs healing from those causes which helped her to make such self destructive choices.

In the end, if I can see her healed of those hurts, that she becomes the person she is supposed to be, that she sheds the scales which encrust her heart... that would be a good thing to come of all this After such healing certainly I can trust her again.

It is possible she will leave me. It may be that I will become the elderly bachelor uncle who goes to his grave never remarrying.

I do not exclude the possibility that I may learn to love again. My preference is that in learning to love again it is not with another woman, but with this one who has shared my life from my immature early twenties to now.

A marriage is carried within the hearts of two people. It cannot survive in the heart of only one. Whether or not this marriage survives its current crisis remains to be seen.

Either way, I will put in the effort I need. Help her to heal, help me to grow in the ways I need to grow. If it isn’t enough, help her to move on.

In my mind my wife is lying in a hospital bed. What ails her comes from many sources. Her illness may affect me, affect our marriage. My role is to help her as best I can. I pray I can help her, that we can both find a way to bring our marriage out from this state of limbo and to a garden we can both explore.

11 comments:

Amrita said...

i 'm glad you are telling us things Brenda has gone thru which we don 't know.She 's had a hard life.And you are acknowledging your weaknessess too.

you are both wounded and hurt.But the fact that you 've not gone into denial is a step towards healing and reconcilliation.Healing doesn 't come when we go into denial anb hold on to our pride.

Pray the counselling went well.Do you follow the PST time in your area? I was just looking at the world clock.

curious servant said...

Yes... Pacific Standard Time.

The counseling was rough... I read the above post to her during the session.

She acknowledged the truthm, but maintained he position of ambiguity and frustration of being tied to this life.

We shall see...

I meet with my buddies tomorrow for prayer. I need prayer and it will be good to be there and pray with other men. not sure how much I will say to them.

Chris Krycho said...

You bless me with your love, your dedication, your hope, your commitment. I am honored to be your brother, to know you this little bit. I come here, ready to pray for you, and instead find myself encouraged by your faith and your heart for God and for your wife.

"This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life" (Psalm 119:50).

Keep fighting, Will. I'm praying for you, for Brenda, for your sons... I do not know God's will, but I know God, and that is enough.

Judas Hate said...

Amen and AMEN!

I rarely pray for specifics. Usually only when asked. I have mostly been focusing my thoughts and prayers towards you, Brenda, Isaac and Jeremiah all coming out of this mentally, spiritually and physically "okay". Whether you come together as one or travel separate paths.
I don't think that Brenda could ask for (or ever find) someone that truly loves her so deeply that he only wishes for her happiness and well being regardless of the cost to himself.

Love and prayers to you all.

Justin

ukok said...

Still praying for your intentions.

curious servant said...

Today is Brenda's birthday.

I think I will take her out to dinner.

Yesterday we went to the counselor. The session left us both bruised.

At this moment I do not see us reconciling. Her heart simply isn't there.

So, I'm in my classroom, eating a little lunch... preparing my room for the students who will be streaming through next week.

I need to pick up a birthday card for Brenda on the way home. I doubt Hallmark has a section for this particular type of birthday.

I can't seem to finish my lunch.

A month ago I had a physical. I weighed 230 pounds. I stepped on the bathroom scales this morning... it read 210.

I do not recommend this weight loss program.

Jim said...

No, that is a terrible way to lose weight.

I know you did well for Brenda for her birthday, as much as she could handle. It would be hard for her to act very happy with her being so terribly unhappy.

The counseling session will also give you guys some time, although Brenda does seem to want to wait longer than the required waiting time.
Sometimes the couple doesn't hardly talk civil and/or sensible with each other before the judge signs the order.
We have the mandatory counseling if one of the couple wants it, mostly it gives some time for things to get sorted out rationally.

Bless you, C.S, Brenda, and the boys. That is my prayer tonight for you.
..

Terry said...

Dear Curious Servant..
Some how I lost your new blog address and Jim so kindly gave it back to me.

After reading this post, I can feel the love that you have for Brenda fairly oozing from almost every line.
If this marriage doesn't mend Curious Servant, it is not from your lack of trying as hard as you can.
I think that you are right about Brenda's being like she is ill.
I think that she really does love you because she had told you the truth about her affairs instead of hiding it.
I think she wants your help in making the marriage work and she really needs to feel that you have forgiven her but most of all she will have to be able to forgive herself. That will be so hard to do!
And it goes without saying that the Lord will forgive her too, if only she would ask Him!
My prayers are still with you both...Love Terry

Did you get her a nice birhtday card?
I think that the Hallmarks are the best!

bjk said...

Praying for both of you.....cannot imagine what you are going through.

bjk said...

Praying for both of you.....cannot imagine what you are going through.

Amrita said...

I can 't imagine what you are going thru. My sis went thru hell for more than 4 years, with the other woman living in the house. she could not share with anyone as he kept her a prisoner of fear.

Their marriage is patched up,but I don 't know what its like. They are staying together for sake of the kids, they are very young.

But my sister has come closer to God. Earlier she had almost lost her faith and become very bitter.