I found my life-partner fairly early in life; in my mid-twenties, between degrees, three years after my first serious relationship ended. The night we met, when we said “good night”, I saw white light flash between us. I had never experienced that before and have never experienced it since. I fell in love with this man because I could talk to him about everything; family relationships, politics, spirituality, dreams. But falling in love was the easy part.
We have been together now for 29 years. Years that have flown by as we juggled kids and jobs; years with lots of work and little sleep; years with lots of commitments and little freedom. Tumultuous years with grief and loss pressed up against joy and plenty; small pleasures squeezed between work and sleep.
After 29 years, the question for me is not why do so many marriages fail, but rather how do any survive? How do we sustain love in the face of so many demands? And mor fundamentally, how do we remain true to ourselves when there is so little time and energy at the end of each day to remember who we are? I have seen the toll that life can take. I have seen how life’s blows can knock us off course; how grief and loss can erode our faith in the universe; how injustice can fuel anger and bitterness; how fear can lead us to betray our Selves.
There were years in which I felt my husband was slipping further and further away from him Self; crushed by the loss of his daughter; and overwhelmed by legal debts. He felt he could not afford to seek work that he liked; that he had run out of time to chase his dreams. He looked for jobs and business opportunities that would allow him to make good money; to get out of debt; to make up for lost time. But it seemed that the more he focused on money, the more illusive it became. One business opportunity after another seemed to run afoul of bad luck or misfortune; all of which fuelled his sense of failure and despair.
During those years, there were extended periods when I obsessed about whether I should leave our marriage. I had recurring dreams; one about two islands adrift in an ocean being pulled further and further apart; another of houses with their foundations crumbling. I thought I should leave to have control over my financial security…and because of the energy it was taking for me to stay in the relationship. But I stayed. I could not bring myself to leave. I felt bereft, torn in half, every time I thought of leaving. I could not tell if I stayed because I did not have the courage to leave or if staying was, for me, the decision which required more courage. I stayed because he is my best friend. I stayed because he is a loving father. And I stayed because I saw the potential in him.
Over the last few years, things have changed. Was it good luck, grace, or the will of the universe? I don’t know. But my husband is now doing work that uses many of his natural talents; a job that helps good people; a job that speaks to him. He took it without any assurances of good money. He took it although it means that he is away from home a lot. He is making good money once again, but more importantly, he is excited about life again. He is remembering who he is; he is reclaiming his dreams. He is coming back to him Self; becoming, once again, the man I fell in love with 29 years ago.