It doesn’t really matter what it was.
But it happened. That moment when you’re just so ticked off. You know you were right, as usual. Oh, the injustice of it all.
And the apology is said, but not with the right tone, or without looking you in the eye, and then something is returned in response – flippantly – and you’re offended again by something new.
Nerves are frayed, you’re both already exhausted from the day and the bickering children in the background add to it and make you just want to fly away to Hawaii and forget it all.
Sometimes you wonder why you even bother. This is ridiculous.
Because in that moment, in the middle of that very important moment – you can’t even remember what it was exactly anymore – but oh boy do you feel it: it’s all VERY heavy. It’s imperative that they recognize the wrong that’s been done. You’ve been grievously offended. They must promise never to make you feel that way again. Because they have all control over your feelings, of course.
So the night comes, one stays out on the computer very late, the other curls up in bed with a book, back to the door, ashamed but still hoping that the other might fall asleep on the couch. But they come in despite it all, turn off the light, flop a little more heavily than usual into the bed.
and that’s it.
You know you should roll over and say something. You know you shouldn’t let the sun set on your anger. Or the moon rise over it. You know its all just a dumb misunderstanding and that you love each other and blah blah blah. But STILL, your pride yells, “I’m just SO done with this.”
And sleep evades and the morning comes with silvery silence and hasty bowls of cereal and snapping “why don’t you ever put your homework where it’s supposed to be!” to the kids and conveniently forgetting to pour their cup of coffee.
“Bye dear. Have a good day.” They politely say, standing in the open doorway, keys in hand.
You could just say “Bye”. or give a kiss. or just a smile that is real. but no, you’re not that smart. Instead, you say “So, you’re not even going to apologize?” Hand on hip, chin in the air. They look at you. An eyebrow raises, obviously contemplating.
“Well, are you?”
The door closes and the day moves on.
So that’s the way of it. The icy-ness that can be a day in the life of a marriage. And we could easily let it go on and on and on. Forever. Eating away until there is nothing. We’ve become quite good at self-preservation. Of mulling over what we deserve and what our friend would say if we just called them up and told everything. They’d say “Oh, yes. How horrible.” You just KNOW that they’d say that.
No matter how long it’s been since walking down the aisle, sometimes you still just want to be right. You want to be YOU. You are so very valuable. Inordinately so. My thoughts, my desires. All those little things add up, piling higher and higher, building walls and fortresses. Until everything is destroyed.
But something can save the day, if you let it. It’s totally a choice, you know. And it might not be what you think.
We can dwell. Or we can let go. This anger, these wishes, these images of what you thought it would be like. Because real love never looks like what you thought it would.
That’s it. Give it up. Let it all go, slipping from your fingers like sand through a sieve.
You might start off grandly – the letting go. And then putter. After a while, you might begin to dwell on alllll the times you’ve already let go, and wonder if there should be some limit to that. Is there some grand marriage tally, of all the times you’ve walked away? Garnering points up against each other on some cosmic scoreboard? “Is someone keeping count of all this sacrifice? Helllloooo out there?!”
Yes. Only the Tempter is. And he doesn’t miss a thing. He’s more than happy to remind us of where we are.
I’ve come to see after these almost 15 years of marriage (not so long, really) that marriage is much about building up, agreeing, compromising, understanding, aligning hearts – yes quite a bit of that. But I wonder if the real glue is abandonment. The letting go. Not of the person. But of all those images of what you thought it would be like. Of yourself. Seventy times seven. Ad infinitum.
Face it, it’s never what we thought it would look like. All this giving up of our wants, of our expectations and demands. Being right.
Because in the end, you just want to be able to text and say, “I’m sorry. It was dumb. So, can you run by the store for me?” And you really want that kiss on the forehead when he walks past you to the fridge. And you want to share those eye-rolls when the children pontificate from the dinner table. You want to be ONE and you don’t mind anymore letting the other stuff fall away in order to get there. You want the US ever so much more than you want the YOU.
The YOU of your pride fades away. True humility is the only thing that ever lets us love completely. The grand emptying that comes with any true vocation. A vocation that should lead us to heaven, ideally.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25
This thing called marriage. It’s so much more vast, raw, vulnerable, soul-wrenching than we ever thought. It takes guts. It tears you all apart and then with all those pieces, builds something so completely new you don’t even know if you recognize it. It looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. But under all the wonder, you know. You know that it’s so good. This is you. This is life. This is love. Unrecognizably more beautiful than you ever would have thought.
And you’re happy.