Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Dancing in the Minefields
I was married once. Most people know this, but it's fun to reconnect with college friends on Facebook and watch as they try to piece together the story without coming right out and asking. Of course, people think it's rude to ask, but I am kind of open book. I don't mind at all. I got married almost exactly 7 years ago. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I got married outside on a 70 degree day in October with beautiful blue skies, even though they called for rain. I had a bounce house and a cotton candy machine and blackberry pie and a bluegrass band, and I was happy. Wedding days should be happy. Let me tell you, though, that weddings are more fun than marriages. Nobody really tells you that ahead of time. No one tells you that once you are married, it is possible to feel hatred for your husband to the same degree that you once felt love. People say that marriage is work, but they don't tell you that it's work that you often don't feel like doing. We aren't properly warned, and maybe there is a reason for that. Maybe if we had any idea how much work it was going to take, we wouldn't dream of saying "I do". I think that maybe the reason I was so happy on that bright October day is that I didn't know what was coming.
I got married for lots of reasons. I was 26, which seemed like a responsible age to be married. I had dated enough to know what I didn't want. I wanted kids. He was a nice guy. He was handsome. He knew how to fix things that boys are supposed to know how to fix. He had a spiritual sensitivity that made up for what he lacked in spiritual maturity. He was financially responsible and secure. He had a daughter and was a loving, involved parent. It seemed like the right thing and the right time. I was going to be a wonderful wife, and he was going to be a fabulous husband. We were destined to be happy.
What I didn't know, though, was that marriage is sort of like a flashlight that reveals the damage from a sin nature and a lifetime of hurts. It shines on your ugliest tendencies and habits and emotions, and little by little, the cracks and flaws began to show. He wasn't a fabulous husband all the time, and I certainly wasn't a wonderful wife. I realized that I was far more selfish than I ever believed. I discovered that I was quick to anger. I could say hurtful things with little to no provocation. I had lived my whole life believing that I was a nice person, that I was good in relationships, that I could communicate effectively. Then I got married and learned that I was wrong. Every wound, every hurt, every insecurity I carried into the marriage lay in wait to be triggered. Once they were triggered, well... love really was a battlefield.
In the end, both of us were to blame. Anyone who places full blame for a divorce on the other person is either lying or delusional. After 5 1/2 years of trying to make it work, though sometimes one-sided and sometimes half-hearted, we divorced. I still fight the feeling that I am a failure. I still get a little sad when I think about the promise that we chose not to keep.
If the chance to get married ever comes around again, I have an idea of what I am getting into. I am smarter. I am more realistic. I have identified some of those flaws, and God has healed so many of my broken places. I know there are more, and I will wait patiently as he fixes those, too. I do believe that I will have another one of those happiest days of my life. I will do without the bounce houses and the bluegrass band. I will definitely buy another overpriced white dress. I will pay whatever it costs to hire a great photographer. I will fold a thousand Japanese origami birds because I think they are so cute. More important, though, I will work to give a soft answer. I will say that I am sorry, even when I don't feel sorry. I will practice James 1:19 and maybe have it tattooed on my arm. (Don't worry, Mom, I am not really going to get a tattoo) As difficult as it was, if God is willing, I will do it again. I will go dancing in the minefields. I am not afraid.