We had a serious discussion prior to getting married, my Hero Husband and I. I was determined to not marry someone who even believed divorce was an option. So I put my beloved to the test. I flat out asked him, “Do you believe in divorce? Because I don’t. I won’t marry someone if there is the slightest chance, you think this won’t last a lifetime.” Obviously, he passed, and the rest is history. However, I wonder how many couples have had this frank of a discussion prior to their wedding day.
Over the years, we've heard friends of friends who have had marriage trouble. We've heard stories of others, we've seen people separate and divorce and because they were more like acquaintances, it never really hit home. We could feel sorry for them, but in the end, we really weren't empathizing. We never let it in.
This past year, a friend of my husband separated and divorced, and a close family member of mine is currently involved in a bitter divorce. Being no stranger to hearing gory details of the demise of relationships, I guess we had assumed that we’d weather these two tragedies in similar fashion.
Even without us knowing, it did impact us, it did have us looking at each other in different ways. Almost like eye-balling each other, examining each interaction for those hidden signs that something must be wrong here. If it can happen to ‘them’ it can happen to us. And you guessed it, bickering and unrealistic expectations of each other resulted. Finally, in a heated argument, I remember shouting, “What has changed here?!”
My beloved shook his head without word, and the first thing that came to my mind was how close these two divorces had come to our hearts. “The only thing is your friend and my family, living through divorce!”
Again, I had silenced him, and we sat and reflected on this possible reality.
Had these two ending marriages made us suspicious of each other? Did it impact our marriage on some level? How do we step back and look objectively at ourselves and our own relationship, in order to avoid reliving someone else’s reality? Their marriage was / is not ours. Their dynamics don’t belong to us. How can we not let someone close to us, change us? It takes such work to put emotions aside and look objectively at a relationship and be willing to accept the other’s change and be willing to make changes ourselves.
Shortly after our heated argument, we made a decision which deep down I want to believe is both our attempts to work together on a project, compromise, and create a space only for us two. Our master bedroom has been, like many others I've heard, a kind of catch all. It housed toys, random items we don’t know what to do with, unfolded laundry, and a host of nick-knacks. It had mix matched dressers, unpainted walls, dreary room-darkening curtains, and a carpet in badly need of a good cleaning. We never owned a headboard or baseboard to our bed, no side tables.
Used to putting the children first and their needs, we tended to overlook ourselves, our own space where we would ‘crash’ at the end of the day. It was never a room I wanted to stay in for long…..for HH too, as he never liked my room-darkening curtains, and never told me so. I sold him on it, “Honey, it matches our bedspread!” …which years later, he confesses, he never really liked either.
What an experiment our bedroom project has been. No decision has been made by one or the other, we came together on every single purchase, down to the lamps, the ceiling fan, the dressers, the sheer curtains, where to rent the carpet cleaner, the color of paint for the walls, the shoe organizer in the closets and so on and so forth. I hardly recognize our room. It looks like a room we've vacationed in, in some far off place, a place to seek peace, relaxation and solace.
**Funny side note, on a Spring Break vacation, our bedroom had a King size bed. Neither of us slept well, as we could never reach out and find the other! The biggest bed was the loneliest.
As each piece was decided on and purchased, it turned out that we really do have similar ideas, and goals that we wanted to achieve in the room, first and foremost, “This is not a room for children.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I really love my kids. And I will never forget a great priest tell me once, “God first, girl. Then your spouse. Then your kids. Then you. In that order, girl. In that order.” I sat for a minute on that, to which he stated clearly, “Listen. The best gift you can ever give to your children, that you love so much, is a great marriage and a stable home.”
I have carried that advice with me for years and years, and it hasn't failed me.
So yes, my children may enter our new “Vacation Room” which we have lovingly termed it, but only briefly. It is not a place to play, bring toys or wrestle in. Now, I have breakable things in there! Which I love and here’s the kicker, HH loves them too.
Now, to be totally honest, we aren't completely finished with the room. It’s a process to live in a space, and realize what needs to be here or there. There are no pictures on the walls, still need the new bedspread and my 15 year old wedding dress still needs to find a home, but as the light shines gently to wake us every morning, and I turn to see my beloved in our ‘vacation room’ I have never loved him so much. Not only does he still not believe in divorce, but he’s willing to invest his time, his energy, his money in something just for us. For finding peace in hectic days. For finding quiet from our five noisy children.
Well, really, for finding each other.