Friday, June 9, 2017

The Seven Year Itch

My husband and I have reached that next milestone in our lives - the one where some of your friends start, to borrow from Gwyneth Paltrow, consciously uncoupling. We're past the expensive years of engagement parties, booze-filled destination stags and stagettes, and weddings that are all pretty much the same (rustic, outdoorsy, nature - it's all the same fucking thing okay?); past the gender reveals, the baby showers and almost past the epic over-the-top 50 person first birthday party. It's okay, I did it too. You're among friends. 

And now we're here. People slowly starting to figure out their marriages aren't working, they aren't the same people anymore, they want different things. And it's freaking terrifying for those of us on the sidelines. We huddle together, shocked when we first hear of inklings of discontent. "Wow, I had no idea. They seemed so happy. We just had a dinner/vacation/celebration with them. I never thought it was that bad" And as a husband and wife you begin to look at one another, critically, wondering what is going on beneath the surface. Wondering if there's something he's not saying. Wondering if there's someone else she is talking to. Wondering, "could that be us?" Because you thought you were close, you thought you were the same as them. You thought you'd have your whole lives together, though maybe you'd drift apart if your kids played different sports. Or you might have a disagreement over where to go on a joint family vacation. But you never thought that this could happen. To them. To you. 

Mind you, it's not happening to you. But something is happening to you. You're wondering, 
"Would I let get that far? 
How would I know when to say something? 
Should I change? 
Should he change?
Do we need a change now, like a preemptive change?
Am I overthinking this? (The answer is always, unequivocally, yes for me on this one)"

And undoubtedly, you're laying blame on these friends, as a way of supporting yourself. Telling yourself that perhaps they didn't do this, or they should have done that. And aren't you a big person for recognizing that. Pat yourself on the back. You know that by doing this you're a terrible friend. But the idea of being a terrible friend is slightly more appealing that the dark notion that you can do all these things and they might not work. They might not "save the day". That at the end of it all, no counselling, date nights, moves, new job, no job, more babies, is going to save you. Some marriages can't be saved. You don't speak your vows in front of 150 people at your rustic wedding (sorry, I had to) with the idea that your marriage might be the one. The one that doesn't last. You can have no way of knowing that 5, 7, 10 years later, you'll look at that person and decide you don't want to married to them anymore. 

So if you can't know beforehand, and by the time you realize it, it might be too late as evidenced by your surrounding friends and family, you can't not be terrified when you hear from a friend they are having "marriage problems". 

You can't not wonder, "are we okay?" But you can grab the wheel, you can continue to drive the car you are in, even if your friends aren't driving the same way anymore. You can say to your spouse "I'm scared and I want to be okay."

~ H

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