Marriage: A Tool for the Depraved? VOL. 6

When Herb and I were going through pre-marital counseling, we were asked by our counselor to think about the areas we might struggle in. We replied that while we knew there would be difficulties, we could not answer that question until we were in the middle of it.

Well, we are in the middle of it. We are in a relationship with the least amount of boundaries that there can be between two people. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, our close friends and roommates have stumbled across the occasional glimpse behind the curtain. They make their way back until the inevitable happens. They stop. They reach a point at which, despite their love for us, they can go no further. You know what I mean. We have all seen parts of our friends that we just don't want to approach. Their drudge. Their junk. We see it. Clearly. Often, we are even affected by it. But to really address it often requires that we pay a cost that is far too high - it is incongruent with the actual value of the relationship. Instead, we navigate and negotiate the relationship and our boundaries so as to be the least impacted while avoiding all unnecessary conflict.

This is not what we desired in our marriage. We have done our best to blur the lines between where one begins and the other ends. Our goal has been to combine ourselves, our things, and our hearts as much as possible in order to make it impossible to separate us from each other. We wanted the other person to see "everything".

In taking down all of the curtain we have with other people, we are exposed. We have given another person the privelage to not only go behind the curtain, but to take it down, fold it up, and put it on the top shelf in the linen closet . . . that infamous shelf where we put things we don't want to throw away, but we know we will never use again. Without the curtain hanging their to protect us, everything is fair game. We are being seen like never before. Feedback that nobody has ever dared to share is being heaped on faster than we know how to process it.

We are frightened. We are angry. What we see is difficult. And being seen is even more difficult. I don't think we realized that creating the deepest type of intimacy that we are capable of creating during the first months of marriage would hurt so badly.

Blending ourselves means that what's mine is yours. So, in addition to acquiring my witty sense of humor, an all access pass to the fruits of my kitchen skills, and my quirky view of the world, Herb got all of the sour stuff too. The student loans, a wild set of in-laws, and an old Honda Civic. Wait, it gets better. Herb gained the baggage that comes from being a part of a broken family, having a mild case of depression, and the world view of a narcissist. Who would have guessed all of that was wrapped up in that pretty white dress and gauzy veil?

The reality is that "having and holding" one another is a big job. "Having" always seemed like a good thing. "Sure, I would love to have some ice cream." Having has never so much seemed like "choking down" to either one of us. There is a lot to have and a lot to hold and it takes more than nine months to learn how to do so. Our new marriage is not strong enough to hold the weight of "having and holding" all that has been presented to us by the other. So we wait, endure, fight, and make-up. Rinse and repeat. It is disheartening, sometimes, to see the commitment to your love turning out to be the hardest thing you have ever done. And, again, it is harder to see your love struggle so hard to love you.

In my most dramatic, selfish, and fatalistic moments, I want to walk down the street, pass the park, and forget how to go home.

Last night I happened to glance at my wedding vows. They are posted on my laptop but I try not to look at them because they do little more than make me feel like a complete failure as a wife. However, this little line stood out to me, "I will journey, explore, and adventure alongside you - even when the path seems uncertain and the outcome is unkown."

I have no idea how to get to where the path is leading us. Most days, I can't actually see the path. I often want to sit in a corner in the basement and wait for the hard part to pass. I want to fast-forward us about 25 years. In this fantasy, my hair will be cool - wirey silver ringlets. I will have a huge ass and I will wear a lot of velvet tunics and bangle bracelets. Herb will have a gaggle of neighborhood teenagers that follow him around for no aparant reason and call him Chief. He will chase the neighborhood cats with more urgency than he does now. He will develop an odd laugh and call me "Queenie" and pinch my huge velvet clad ass in front of our friends and neighbors to make them squirm. And we will like each other. Really like each other. We will banter in the kitchen as kids and dogs run between us. We will see the other's junk and we will call them on it without personalizing it.

But my wedding vow was prepared for the present reality and prescribes a different approach than a sojourn in the basement for a "Sex and the City and Sudoku party" scheduled to last until the year 2031. "Journey, explore, and adventure". Three very strong verbs. A verb is an action word. This means I cannot sit down and wait for this part to end. It means I have already committed to staying actively engaged. So I I come out of the basement and come alongside of Herb; verbing as much as I can.

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Wedding pictures are up on our web site! www.herbandcara.com

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