Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The River

Couples fight. If you are half of a couple, chances are you know this already. This is no groundbreaking observation. To the Newlyweds, my cherished recently paired, it is not an 'if' but a when. There will be a rip-roaring fight in your house and more than one. It doesn't mean your relationship is over. Once the dust settles following some verbal tornado that just plowed through your living room, you will realize that you learned something new about each other and you've likely grown stronger for it. Hold that thought.
I turn now to the couple who is, by most accounts, relatively happy. Life is good, as far as it goes, and things are floating along the current of time without rock or branch. WHAM! Something bumps you right out of your boat. Now, having plunged into the frigid, fast moving water, you surface to try and find your mate. In panic, once your eyes meet, you swim hurriedly to one another. Problem is, one of you is swimming upstream. The other trying not to float by and miss the opportunity to find the nice dry boat you were both in. Where is the solace of that boat? Can we ever get back in the boat? Will the boat be lost to the rocks ahead?
I am not talking about the hiccups of losing a job, although that can be pretty serious. My focus is on when one of the two gets sick, or gets devastating news about a close family member. My marriage encountered just that when my husband was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. The name suggests exactly what it means. My 37 year old husband's heart was failing. We had all the Hallmark card moments you'd expect once we got over the initial shock of the news. We vowed to make the best of it, be grateful for every day, make lots of memories, not take anything for granted. We didn't know what our marriage had just been submerged in. We couldn't appreciate the emotional gravity of what it is like to find yourself with life as you know it together being put into a whirlpool and spun around like a fallen leaf onto top of the water. It wasn't as simple as a conscious decision to "make the best of it". The daily living, him accepting his illness and me having to get my mind around the idea that our relationship suddenly had a timeline was crushing. We were pounded against the rocks of life with every test, surgery and disappointing report from his doctor. Like it or not, this thing, this upending was weighing on us. It was on our minds and in our hearts everyday even if we wanted to pretend we were back in our little boat of 'Happy Couple and New Family of Three' we were still soaking wet. The every day tasks in life were becoming more and more daunting. For my husband, just getting up to face his day was a purposeful task, rather than an automatic response to the sun rising.
When your relationship sustains such a shipwreck, try as you might, there is always something in parentheses in your conversations. When this happens, it is the marker that underlines the most simple of annoyances between you. Forgetting to take the trash out, again, becomes an all out war over who does more around the house. It's the noticing the usual things that your other half does that irritate you that have you now pondering divorce. Take heart, your relationship is over. For us, we needed to acknowledge openly to each other that this situation was affecting us, individually and corporately. We had to become open with each other about our emotional frailties about his illness and honestly speak about what was baring down our minds. In order to avoid the rapids and not see our little boat be busted to ruins, we had to say "Hey. there is something coming. I am scared, I am not sure how I'll survive. I don't know if I can keep swimming. I am afraid you'll let go of me". We had to state the obvious. It was the only way. Avoiding what is and not talking about 'it' for the sake of the other will kill you. It will kill your relationship and rob you both of the life preserver you need. Each other.
Married life is not about pretending everything is okay. It's about being able to be open, honest and you, no matter what. This person is the only one who will ever know you better than anyone else. Your shipmate. For those who are directly effected by what has now come between you, be gentle. You are not alone. There is someone every bit as right there in it with you and they are in pain too. For the other half watching your partner suffer, know that depression and preoccupation comes with this trial. Give each other a break. Talk. Remember, love endures all things and keeps no account of wrongs.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this, this struck so close to home and you made me stop to think, put things back in perspective.