In my first marriage, I walked on eggshells.
In my first marriage, I wasn’t yet myself.
In my first marriage, I didn’t say what I meant or what I needed or what I wanted.
In my first marriage, I held onto resentments.
In my first marriage, I did not show respect to my then-husband, to myself, or to the beauty of marriage.
I’m not a fan of who I was in my first marriage, to say the least.
Something happened recently that made me think I hadn’t grown in the least, that I still wasn’t myself, that I still didn’t know how to be in a relationship with another person. But then it turned around.
My husband comes home one weekday evening each week. And on whatever night that ends up being, I, for the most part, make no other plans than to be with him, fully available to him. I want him to want to come home to me. I want to be his home. I want him to intermingle me and home in his mind. If he’s coming home for me, I need to be there, for him and for me.
And yet, there is life. And sometimes there are scheduling things that come up.
And this happened recently.
My son is a senior in high school. He is on the varsity basketball team. I love watching him play. Before he could drive, I would take him to every single one of his games. I was at all of them. But then he started driving, and I kinda got married and my time filled up in different ways, and I have not made it to all of his games this year. (I’ve been to most, but not all, and I have to admit that I’m upset with myself about that.)
So, my husband was coming home one particular evening. And I knew Jack had a home game. I had left the choice up to my husband of whether or not we went, knowing that I had just gone to one the night before and knowing that I was planning to make it to at least the very next three in a row.
My husband gets up early. My husband works late hours. My husband is sometimes called out in the middle of the night. My husband drives far to and from home to be with me. And this particular night, my husband was tired, and he knew that night was his only night without plans for the next several days. And he needed a night at home, so we planned to not go to the game.
I told Jack and he said he understood.
Deep down though, I was a bit sad. But I wanted to honor my husband. And I wanted to spend that evening with my husband. And I totally understood that he was tired. And if the situation were reversed, I would have wanted the option to stay home and rest. So I give it to Jesus and asked him to help me let it go and not dampen our evening.
Jack left for the game. My husband and I had dinner and then spent some time together. And then ten minutes before the game was set to start, I looked at my husband and said,
“Honey, I love you with my whole heart. I have you for the next fifty years. But I only have Jack for seven more months. I want to go to his game.”
I was scared as I said it. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I didn’t want him for one second to not think he is a priority. I didn’t want him to be mad at me or to be hurt. I didn’t want a fight.
But I felt I needed to say this.
And he said, “Of course you should go; I don’t think I can make it, I just need to relax; but of course you should go.”
I hugged him and kissed him and said over and over, “I love you, I love you, I love you” and “thank you, thank you, thank you”.
And I cried on my way to the game.
You may think this is insane. That, of course, I should’ve been able to go to the game or whatever. Then you’ve never walked my road.
Because if you’re in an abusive marriage or if you’re no longer in one, you know. You know exactly what I’m talking about, how huge of a deal this was for me and for Richard and for our relationship.
Jesus used him to heal me again. Not that in my first marriage, I wouldn’t have been allowed to go to our son’s basketball game. But this is different. And this was tricky. And our circumstances are difficult and a bit precarious right now, this not-really-living-together thing. this we-have-kids-with-other-people-and-not-with-each-other thing.
And I realized that I single-handedly, in four simple sentences, honored my husband, honored my son, and honored myself. I was respectful to all of us. I said what I needed, I allowed my husband to need what he needed, and our marriage rose up to this new place of being able to accommodate both of us being who we are without it hurting the other. And it simply amazed me. I didn’t know marriage could do that.
On the way home, I sang along to the radio…
“…you’re a good, good Father… …it’s who You are…it’s who You are…it’s who You are… …and I’m loved by you, …it’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am…”
And I sat in my garage for a moment, weeping. In praise. In gratitude. In a sense of a deep remembrance for how my life use to be, for how much pain there was every day, for how constricted and trapped I felt…and now, for the peace, for the contentment, for the steadiness, for the freedom that comes with being loved well.
I’m becoming more whole. I’m watching it happen more and more every day. And it can happen to you too in a thousand different ways.
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