Our tenth wedding anniversary approaches. We’ve been through some very tough times, I think to myself frequently. I also say it out loud a lot. Perhaps to remind myself just how far we’ve come. Verbalizing the memories brings a crack to my voice, and tears are apt to fill my eyes. On the heels of the statement, like flapping coattails, I also know that many, many couples go through hard times in their relationships – illness, financial worries, death, uncertainty, knocks from left and right, rugs pulled so swiftly as to leave a couple knocked onto their asses.
Sometimes it’s unthinkable the things that happen.
I spent many years assigning blame; pointing fingers at family members (one of which I’m not sad to admit, is probably broken beyond repair), my husband included. I always tried to divert the pointing away from him because I knew how hard he was working and how he suffered for our little family but it was there all the same, shouting into the vast silences, or picking and niggling out of my mouth without any remorse.
At our lowest, at our most far apart, and when he left for work, often it felt as blank as closing the door on an empty house. In another room, I would become aware of his leaving, and feel floundered but at the same time I didn’t care. We could be in the same room but the balance of our relationship had shifted so that we couldn’t relate to one another. We didn’t know how to navigate the waters together so we stumbled angry, haughty, and defensive through the turmoil. Each of us aware of the other but too stubborn, or we didn’t know how, or just didn’t want to make the effort, to reach out and tap the other on that cold shoulder. Fearing rejection? Fearing taking the first step? Fearing the hard battle to right things?
Visually speaking, I see the journey like a scab, which isn’t appealing but then again, marriage has its hard, dark side. The deeply wounded part of our journey; stuck and welting red under the hardened skin I could liken to our worst four years. As the scab gets better around the outside, the sore becomes lighter and stronger. The skin is thin, and tenuous but pinker. As the edges spread, the scab is no longer needed because the skin has become firmer, more solid.
These have become good years. We still struggle somewhat, but there’s an honesty and humor that wasn’t there before. It appears that we have sailed the storm, both with the same destination and we have arrived together to sunnier shores.
I love my husband with all my heart and I have no regrets about anything I have done or said in the last six years (and I have done and said some not-so-good things) because without all the experiences, the challenges, the hardship, the sadness, the shame, the silence, we would still be skating on the surface. Holding hands and smiling, sure, but without the deep knowledge that can be seen in the quickest of glances.
That said, I would not want to relive it!