I fled the house.
I spent the night downtown with my friend (“Wife”), Andrea. I needed shelter, and to be away from my husband. I might have driven him to anger, but there was no way I would tolerate physical abuse. Andrea and I hiked and talked for four hours the next morning, and then I headed to south Orange County to spend a few days with my best friend, Joy, and her new husband, Micah.
Joy met me at the door with a glass of red wine. She had drawn me an Epsom salt bath (my legs were sore from hiking), lit candles and placed little chocolates along the tub. She wrote me a beautiful card. She wanted me to have a “happy” Valentine’s Day. I burst into tears. I have the most amazing, steadfast, giving and loyal friends in my life. It felt incredible to be cared for; to be loved.
My husband had no idea where I was, and I didn’t have the energy or desire to tell him. I assumed that he could have easily figured it out, but only if he truly cared. I did not contact him. Perhaps I wanted to punish him, but I mostly just wanted peace. I was resolute.
I am done. I cannot move forward with him. He is incapable of being a man. He is not husband material. He wants to be 22, single and “untethered”. Lord, I pray for him and pray You SPANK HIS IMMATURE, IDIOT ARSE.
Yet, I still cried —
God, save us. God, RESTORE my marriage with miracles and redemption. Help me to not react, help me find peace.
My husband emailed me every day. His emails were constant, yet brief. He didn’t know where I was, or what I was feeling. He was sick to his stomach. He was sure there were “one million things” that he could have done better, but he didn’t want to live under the umbrella of what he had done, “every minute of every day.” He didn’t know why there was such silence. Was this what I wanted? Did I even care? He didn’t know “what happened on Friday night that pushed us” to that point. He didn’t know why I wouldn’t communicate with him.
And then, I received a lengthy email.
He wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day, and said it was hard for him to not know where I was. He didn’t know why I had left, and wondered, almost aloud, if I had gotten fed up with him, or just needed time alone.
Our abrupt break had left him reeling, a little.
My husband went on to detail what he wanted: for us to be partners. He wanted us to take joy in each other’s lives and show the world how two people could live to their fullest potential. He recognized that the words “career” and “support” had become so loaded between us.
He wanted happiness. He wanted stage (for me); writing (for him). He wanted simple things, too, like eating spaghetti and taking our dog on walks. He wanted understanding.
He figured we’d work through the hard stuff, including his affair. We’d move forward, towards a new partnership, together. He explained that he would never stop believing in the way that our relationship could look.
Except: I left without a word. That killed him. Yet, maybe I was right. Maybe we’d have to separate in order for our relationship to work. Maybe we both needed time to experience what our lives would be like without the other.
He felt, very strongly, that I had made him out to be some sort of “evil straw man” over the past two months. He refused to live with the image that I had of him; of who I thought he was. He concluded that if separation was the only way to destroy this image I had of him, then perhaps we should stay apart.
At the same time, he loved me. And that was that.
I finally wrote him back, later that night, and told him I’d meet him at marriage counseling the next day.
I felt anxious and suffocated. And he was only reeling, a little? I didn’t want to go back into the war zone. I started to realize that I didn’t want the same things that my husband had just described. He still didn’t get it. I wanted a husband who would love me and not abandon me. I wanted a partner who sought after God first. I wanted to be treated right. I wanted children. I slowly realized that my dreams and desires had changed.
For nine years I lay in bed at night, next to my husband, and dreamed of a career on Broadway. When I finally made it off-Broadway, I lay alone, and dreamed of a husband and children.
Isaiah 41:13 – For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”
Oh, Lord, what a beautiful promise, and what better place to be than in Your Presence; in Your hands! Lord, the anxiety, fear and worry take me down…I am trying to control my own life, I’m trying to control/change my husband, and it just doesn’t work. None of it. Lord, I truly want Your will and I feel like I’m too stupid, clueless or afraid to just let go. I want to abandon my hopes and dreams for myself into YOUR hopes and dreams for me.
Feeling refreshed and encouraged after the weekend with my friends, I decided to go back into battle. My first stop was marriage counseling. When I arrived, my counselor informed me that he had just gotten off the phone with my husband. He would not be attending the session. He was confused and hurt. I indignantly started to defend myself, but my counselor gently encouraged me to try to see things from my husband’s (broken) perspective. He was trying. He wanted the marriage. Perhaps he wasn’t doing the best job, but he was still there, and his intentions were to re-build our life together.
I felt convicted, set up another appointment and headed home.
On the way, I stopped at the grocery store to buy a “belated” Valentine’s Day gift for my husband. It felt cheesy, but my heart had been softened by his daily pursuit. I spent more than twenty minutes in the Card and Party aisle. Every single Valentine’s Day card I browsed pierced my heart with a jagged, rusty, barbed-wire arrow. I couldn’t find the right one. They were all full of love and happiness. I didn’t feel love, or loved. I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t lie, but I wanted to make peace.
Finally, I found one that was appropriate.
TO MY HUSBAND,
You and I have been through
a lot together,and through everything,
both the good times and the bad,
there was always our love
holding the two of us together
and keeping our family close.
Even after all these years,
there’s still no better way to say it…
“I love you.”
Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day