A few weeks ago I wrote about the potential Next Man in my life. (Lord, help us both if there’s one out there…)
Most of that post was true. And the parts that weren’t, I wish they were.
The kind of marriage I would like, that part was totally true. I want an equal partnership. I want his heart to matter to me. I want my heart to matter to him. I want kindness to win out over everything else. No addictions, no abuse. Et cetera, et cetera.
But here’s the part that I think might have been misleading:
“I want to be the kind of wife who doesn’t freak out, who doesn’t place rules, who is fine with a husband who travels or climbs mountains or rides motorcycles or has a beer while watching the game.”
This girl sounds like the cool girl. And this maybe made it sound like this is who I am. It is not. I would love to be this laidback. I would love to be this flexible. I would love to be this go-live-your-life-baby-and-I’ll-live-mine-and-we’ll-touch-base-at-the-end-of-the-day-and-compare-adventures-over-a-glass-of-Chardonnay.
But I am so not this kind of girl. I can pull off cool girl for maybe five minutes.
Because I am battling some scary truths. First, many, many bad things happened in my first marriage. And I can wait until I’m 80 to get married again, but I would lay money down that I will be just as scared in that marriage that those things will happen again. I expect that I will be emotionally flinching for the rest of my life. At least, I fear that. Because, baby, I come with some scars.
Secondly, I am not in a relationship right now. I haven’t been in a relationship, legally, for one year. Emotionally for three. That means my relationship skills have been lying dormant. That means I am saying I want things and that I hope to be things that I have absolutely no current frame of reference for.
If I were saying these things mid-relationship where I was able to practice what I preach, that would be one thing.
But in my last relationship…I didn’t practice these things. My last relationship was blooming with my codependency and with fear-based ultimatums and with reality-based suspicions. The relationship was bad and I was a mess.
I was an absolute hot mess of a wife. And I need to be realistic. Just because I’m no longer in that specific relationship does not mean I will not act the exact same ways.
Yes, time has gone by. Yes, I’ve learned so very much about myself and my marriage and how wrong things really were and how I messed up so much. Yes, I have hopes of how things would be different “the next time”.
And yet, I have heard time and time again of women getting divorced, leaving behind horrible marriages, getting into counseling, doing the hard work of changing, recovering and healing, letting very sufficient time go by, then meeting a guy (usually at church), thinking things will be different, and then finding herself in a marriage as bad if not worse than her first. Terrifying. This literally terrifies me.
So, I hate to say it, but I will more than likely not be the cool girl. If you have a motorcycle, I might cringe every time you tell me you’re going to ride it. If you have a beer with the game, I will probably fear a burgeoning addiction. If you travel all the time, it will more than likely hurt my heart (even though I’m an introvert who loves being alone) and I might take it personally. But at least this time, I would be aware of what’s going on inside of me. And this time, I might even have the courage to share it. And that is so much more than I can say for last time. So that will have to masquerade as coolness. That would just have to do.
If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.
I am not the cool girl either. I am terrified, too, of a second marriage being worse than the first and only adding baggage to mine and my children’s psyche. My greatest fear is that my second husband will discover I’M the one not worth the trouble…and leave. Sigh, it is my fear based on nothing he has ever done or said.
However, we can’t let fear keep us from risking, from being open to possibility and whatever God may have for us. And when those triggers create insecurity – we will bring them into the light of God’s word and the relationship with our ‘others.’ This is where redemption takes place, bringing the good from the bad and being vulnerable while strong.
Yes, exactly! I feel that you are describing me. I’ve been married twice… the marriages were very different yet I did some of the same (not good) things. Bad things can come in different forms…so can good things, I suppose.
Here’s to a good life, overall. 🙂
My heart goes out to you. Your heart speaks what I know to be true. Prayerfully for you and your loved ones.
I think God always gives you another opportunity to figure out something you had not previously … My second husband – in ways, we are so much more compatible, in other ways – boy, he reminds me of my first, but I have learned not to ‘hit my head on the wall’ (the old saying why would you continue the same thing expecting different results.)
P.S. Elizabeth – I have been reading and enjoying your site for awhile. We e-mailed a bit awhile back – if you get a chance, i just started a blog about ‘keeping on path’ – http://keeponpath.wordpress.com/ 🙂