Marriage for me…

May 12, 2009

Being a realist, I never believed that there was one person, a ‘soul mate’ for whom we are destined. Demographically, it just doesn’t work out that way. Even in our marriage counseling, Carla and I knew that, but what we felt was something different. Every day of our marriage, it became clearer that she was making me better and I was making her better. I can’t say we hit the mark daily in keeping Christ at the center of our marriage, but more days than not, we did succeed in that, which I know is the largest key in unlocking the potential and opulence of marriage.

I am sure that my mother and father failed at doing this essential, and I pray for my father and his wife that they can find this, but the realist in me knows that it takes more than prayer and hope. Sure, there are plenty of marriages that are great without Christ being the center of the individuals as well as the marriage, but I do not believe that the breadth of a great marriage can be realized without Him.

I challenged Carla to reveal her greatest self and she responded beyond any and all of my expectations. She inspired me to become my greatest self with who she was. I can see how that line in Jerry McGuire is a common feeling among those in love. “You complete me!” I can hear the crescendo of the music now. But, I think it is wrong and a reason for failing relationships. But, “You unlock me!” just doesn’t carry the emotion. Yet, that’s what we did for each other. Carla was the strongest, most confident, most saintly and happiest the last year of her life. I knew that my marriage was something incredible. It was apparent, even among Christian couples. I loved and supported Carla and she loved and supported me. We treasured our marriage. We were intentional about knowing each other and speaking openly.

Clearly, intentional and honest communication is key to a successful marriage but we also never spoke anything negative about each other to another person. What little inevitable “issues” we had with each other, we worked them out in our home, in private. It is sickening how many women expose their dirty laundry, putting down their husbands in front of their friends. “Do you know how wide you have opened the door at this point?” And husbands, I know we are men with damnable affinities but respecting your marriage when we’re hanging out with our buddies is imperative to keeping that dirty laundry to a minimum… eyes, ears and mouth.

I was delighted with Carla. She was so much that I wasn’t. She stretched me and helped me to see that life is today; in the air we breathe, in our conversations, in the reflections of our eyes, in the wind on our skin- in this moment, life is. That was tough for me, but she made it easy. Her depth is what drew me in and kept me swimming in her. In my exploration of her, I had to discover and reveal myself—and it was more than a natural aging of the relationship. We were an old couple holding hands, in young bodies. We loved so much in so little time. Lewis, in A Grief Observed, one of the best books I have ever read says, feels, gets angry and questions most of what I have. Madeline L’Engle describes Lewis’ short marriage to H as “…being invited to the great feast of marriage and the banquet was rudely snatched away from him before he had done more than sample the hors d’oeuvers.” I cannot think of a better way to describe what has happened to me. Lewis talks about grief feeling like fear, but more strictly like suspense. And one of so many questions to which I can relate: “Do I hope that if feeling disguises itself as thought I shall feel less?” I believe it is true that the greater the love, the greater the loss. I have lost much.

I am sure that divorce is tough. I have seen it from “down here.” I was determined to explode the examples of my parents. I wanted a big family, free of guilt and appeasement and “dancing around issues”. Why am I now left holding another weight in my bag? Why have my hopes for the future been murdered? Why must Linen be forced to start out this journey handicapped? The whys can knock an eight on its side if I let them. What do I do now? When I indulge this grief, it makes me sick. When I force myself to have a good day, it disgusts me like I have become some poor Tony Robbins victim avoiding the sad truths of life. Even if I overlay all these 2 dimension memories of her, I can never recreate her. I feel I am losing her. It’s getting easier to say it… She is dead. I refuse to replace her with snap shots in time or great moments or happiness. That is not her. She is not here.

At least with divorce, there is a reason. Someone was to blame, usually both if we examine it enough. But the long view may prove that divorce causes more damage, more pain for more people. With loss, the one left is there to be thrown on the grenade, enduring it alone as the shrapnel cuts through the organs of hope, faith, love and all the arteries that carry out the practical functions of life.

Only lately have I been able to thank God for 9 years with Carla. Even if I live to be 3 digits, I will have loved enough in those 9 years for a life time. I have read all the biblical references to marriage, in context, and still wonder what it will be like in heaven. I hope it’s one of those things I cannot comprehend right now and maybe sounds a bit like; how big is blue?


One Response to “Marriage for me…”

  1. Fran said

    I hope I am this for Phillip. Carla taught me so much!

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