irreconcilable differences: any sort of difference between two parties that either cannot or will not be changed.
There’s nothing like spending a little time in the company of our friends’ miserable marriage to make us believe in our own. The slings and arrows of their misfortune seem shot from Cupid’s bow right into our hearts. Each barb exchanged across the outdoor fire pit draws me closer to my husband; I even let him graze my boob with his arm as I snuggle in to him. He strokes my hair. Their pain makes ours seem so mild and boring. In the car on the way home, we debrief, comparing our marital mishaps to theirs: no comparison, they win for most miserable couple, hands down. We pull into the driveway and make out in the car.
Their misery is like a drug for us. The worse their marriage is, the easier it is for us to overlook the cracks and rough spots in ours. When things get really bad, we can always say: “At least we don’t call each other f***ing asshole.” “At least we don’t scream in front of the kids.” (Well, not that much.)
Many months later our friends’ announce their separation. We are sad for them, but also relieved that they are moving through this very difficult space. There is confusion, too, over the relationships among the four of us. I wonder if he and I will still be friends; Josh wonders if he and she will still be friends. Underlying the anxiety over sorting out these new connections, we’re also worried about us, and what this means for our marriage. Without the clearly painful backdrop of our friends’ marriage to make ours look good, will our own union come apart?
It’s a valid question. We’re both pulled in too many directions and definitely take each other for granted more than we mean or want to. We are a fiery match: we are both very opinionated; we both want to be in control; we are both very passionate and emotional; we both feel overwhelmed by our delightful, energetic children and work and finances. Deep in the stresses of everyday life, we are a challenge. Still, we’ve managed to hold it together for almost 14 years.
As my friends contemplate affairs, separation, divorce, I try to imagine throwing in the towel and walking out, but I never seem to get very far. Maybe I have a high tolerance for stress – maybe he does too – but I just don’t see us giving up on us. The love is there, but the truth is, that’s not enough. Staying together is hard work. Now, like a pair of junkies checking in to rehab, we need to own up to the pieces of our marriage that need work and recommit to nurturing the awesome parts we take for granted.
We’re ready. Sign us up.
I’m participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge during the month of April using the very broad theme of LOVE to carry me through the alphabet. Check out writing by other bloggers taking on the #atozchallenge at @AprilA2Z.