Monday, June 25, 2007

Our marriage: a 1963 Saab 93 Sedan

I have come to think of this marriage through this metaphor:

When I am a young man someone gives me a shiny, showroom-condition Saab sedan. Sixties vintage. The interior is lovely. The paint is shiny and the body pristine. I am handed the keys with nothing more than a smile and a pat on the back. Like many used cars, this one has no owners manual tucked into the glovebox.

I take care of it the way I think cars should be, the way I've always seen automobiles cared for and maintained. Regular washes and oil changes. I fill up the tank with brand-name gas every Thursday. I can't say that I pamper the vehicle, but it is hardly abused. As I learn about the car's former owners, I am amazed that it runs so well and looks so nice. They were not very concerned about this little import's long-term health, even if they did the best they knew how.

If you understand anything about early Saabs, you already know what's going to happen: the engine will gasp and wheeze and stop altogether before too long. Unlike every other car on America's roads, this Swedish beauty sports a 2-cycle engine. If you don't add oil to the gas tank, you will damage the engine in short order. If you never add oil to the gas tank, the drivetrain will be destroyed. Kaput. Clunk.

But who suspects such Scandinavian wackiness? It's a car! You just put gas into the gas tank and oil down the OIL tube! How the heck is a guy suppose to just know this? Like I said, there is no owner's manual.

For the record: had I known, I would have been adding the oil to the gas from the very beginning. It was never my intention to cause or allow the destruction of something entrusted to me, something beautiful (if not a little bit funky).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Funny how conjecture comes so easily...

but genuine concern simply isn't worth the effort. This from a female friend of Stacy's:

"D. must be in pain...I mean how can he hold so much anger unless he is somehow not able to be honest about some issue...or what...I do not know but it causes and has caused you great pain and I am so sorry you have had to live these months and years without the love of a husband who adores you completely."

Now, why does someone assume that I am holding in heaps of anger? Because they would be angry living with a spouse like mine? Fair enough, I suppose. But it sounds so patronizing: you must be very angry, and if you don't feel angry then you are just not being honest with yourself. The woman's husband pulled that on me for months and when I finally got ticked at him for his inconsistency, he shrank back and accused me of "shaming" him. Mon Dieu! Will I start covering up my cowardice and laziness with counsel-speak if I continue sitting in JB's office? Meh genoita. But back to the sentiment above - why does pain demand anger? Is it not possible to deal with S.'s manifold foibles with some patience and sorrow, tinged perhaps with anger? For that matter - why should someone assume a place of judgment like she has? According to her, I am a seething sonnofabitch who fails to honestly assess both himself and the situation at hand. I suggest that such judgments have no place between Christians.

What stirs more emotion, though, when I read the above words is the idea that I have willfully failed to love and adore my wife completely for lo these many years. A more appropriate sentiment would sound like this: "I'm sorry that you have been unwilling to offer your husband any sort of unconditional love or emotional safety. You reap what you sow, though. Tough it up, woman." THAT would speak wisdom to the situation, IMHO.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A desire for wickedness in the other

You know that I have S.'s old job, no? She used to be the full-time parent in charge of domestic duties, one and all. Homework. Cleaning. Laundry. Shopping. Cooking. You know the drill. She now works a hair over part time and I do all the work of parenting and homemaking. When we last were communicating, through letters (hand-written on her part; always typed and edited and rewritten on mine), she spoke again and again of how horrible I am as a person, especially toward the kids. I noted that she was no saint herself back in the day when I was actually working fifty plus hours a week. She dropped off the tots at the gym childcare, worked out a few hours, then came home for a lengthy nap. When all the children were awake and in the house, she shoved earplugs into her head, fed them simple boiled or microwaved foods, and dumped them into bed by 6:30 pm. Mommy needs her special time.

I am absolutely certain of this: my shortcomings are equal to or greater than S.'s at her worst when it comes to parenting. At times I am short, easily frustrated, and downright mean. However, I have noticed that I am not the only adult in this house who exhibits such behaviour. And when I hear the same tones of frustration and anger from her lips, I can't help but smile a smug little smile. Ha! Bitch! You ain't all that.

So it goes with a debased relationship. Everything becomes a special case. Ordinarily you would want to encourage someone to avoid yelling at children, cursing at computers, or seething at poor drivers. Ordinarily you would quietly pray for a soul captive to anxieties. In our case, though, it is a cause for celebration! You suck worse than I do, you sucky sucker! Your moral high-ground is nothing more than a farce, you silly woman! The greater her sinful disposition, see, the better my position. I quietly assume the high-ground simply by watching her falter in the flesh.

Friday, May 18, 2007

It just happened.

I shaved my head a few months back for a few reasons. One. I looked like a freaky homeless guy when I woke up in the morning. Having four inches of hair is not something which looks even slightly decent on my increasingly barren hairline. And if one is going to cut one's hair, it might as well be drastic. Two. It provides a sort of tonsure. Now, I have shaved my head in the past as a more proactive spiritual exercise, a la Acts 18:18. This time the smooth scalp isn't serving such a purpose explicitly and purposefully, sort of like when you fast because you just need to clean out the ol' GI rather than focus on prayer.

Third. So I can immediately notice when the horns of cuckoldry appear. I wouldn't want to be brushing my wavy locks some fine spring morning only to have the brush snag on any well-developed nubs.

The Counselor noted this week that S. has communicated no desire to be physically intimate with another man. She has written as much in one of her recent notes. If we were to separate, she says, she would be faithful to God and not remarry. Please. I may not be the perfect mate, but I sure know her better than that.

The fact is that she yearns for that male connection. That's why she has a date next week. That's one of the reasons she gave for being reluctant to visit with The Counselor (the main one being that I had contaminated her by my mere suggestion of seeing her. The other, that she isn't a man, and "I prefer talking with men.") She prefers the company of gentle-spirited men who are wired to immediately speak on emotional topics. I imagine she feels about such men the way I would about a vibrant, feisty woman who can more than hold her own in a theological discussion. GrrrrOOWww!

But at least I understand that the desire for physical intimacy is the natural and inevitable outcome of feelings of intimacy for most women, and my wife is surely not a asexual creature given such circumstances. My cuckolding would be entirely expected were she to find herself enamored by first conversation and laughter. Then follows the flush of giddiness from an accidental brushing of the hands during a nice, chatty walk. These are the feelings which she hasn't enjoyed (or worked to create) in such a very long time! This is all she wants, which her violent, wicked husband has kept from her for years and years and years.

That's pretty much all it would take, I'm sure. I truly believe that she is not consciously intent on adultery, but I also see very clearly that she doesn't understand herself in the slightest and thus takes no precautions to avoid adultery (even in non-physical manifestations). I can almost feel those bumps on my head right now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

O! The Slander! Even my close friend in whom I trusted

who ate my bread - she has lifted her heel against me.

I have told two, maybe three people about the details of S's insanity (You, of course don't count. Because you don't really exist. At least not in a sense of running into you from time to time). Her bitterness and belligerent indignation have not found their way into most of my conversations. To wit: on Saturday the kids and I took a lovely long drive northwards to enjoy the graduations of a few old friends (one a former student of mine getting her B.A.; the other, a high school pal who is now fully PhD'd). On the way we stopped by for a surprise visit at the home of some old friends from our mountain days. As we were leaving, Mr. D. asked me to tell S. that they missed seeing her. I confided that things were not going well, that she had checked out of the marriage at least six months ago. I left it at that.

S., on the other hand, sees it as her duty to lay out her low opinion of me and my shortcomings whenever remotely tangential to the conversation. She wrote a former coworker with concerns that in his new position he was slandering his old school and stealing prospective students. He politely defended his actions in black and white, but S. felt somehow violated: "To be honest, I thought I totally pissed you off with my email. Your response felt like an attack." [Phew! At least I am not the only human being who wears the calumnies of her bizarre interpretations of human emotions.] But not one to stop there, she needs to tell this man where the roots of such paranoia lie: "I have a feeling it's because I've been dealing with a lot of this from my husband for so many years and never respond well to any hint of harshness."

Do I know this guy? Is he some longstanding family friend? A Christian able to dispense grace, pray or hear with wisdom? Ahhhhhhh - NO. I notice in her correspondence that she brings up "troubles with" her husband on a regular basis - she might as well program that into her signature S. L. T______, "Things with my husband are difficult."

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!

It is one thing to bare your heavy soul with trusted old friends who have spiritual resources (although I even have a hard time with that when I am entirely left out of the loop, unable to temper her aspersions with some perspective. One woman told S. that she is "doing all the right things and the Lord will honor that in your life". Quite a statement from someone without much knowledge of events), but to speak ill of your husband - a fellow heir of salvation - before the goyim! Such foolishness is this!

Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life!
Let them be turned back and disappointed
who devise evil against me!
Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away!
Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

An analogy

I fully understand why S. has grown so upset and feels that she has a right to dissolve the marriage after fifteen years of persistent failures on my part. That is to say, it makes sense within her insulated framework, within the S. Grammar of Relational Love.

Here is how it might look if I were to believe and act as she does:

Ever since childhood I have had a vision of what it means to be married, what it is to be loved. And that means waking up every morning and having my soft-eyed spouse pleasure me in all sorts of new and enlivening ways. Monday through Saturday, we wake up and the marriage works. I feel loved and fulfilled and treasured.

But it does not even start off like that. The honeymoon is ok, but there are plenty of mornings when she just gets up and takes a shower, or eats breakfast or reads. How strange, I think. This bodes not well for the love of this marriage. Sure enough, the first few years of the marriage see a few mornings here and there where she demonstrates such love. All is right with the world, and I know she can do it if she only will try. But those mornings never establish a pattern, and she falls right back into those other habits - eating, showering, dressing.

Years drift into one another. I hope every morning. 99% of mornings I am disappointed. She is not who I thought I was marrying. This is not how things are supposed to be. She could do it, but chooses every single morning not to. Her priorities are abundantly clear to me! I mean nothing to her! She refuses to love me, and instead loves all those other activities.

Finally, I realize that it is always going to be like this. She is never going to wake up with a burning desire to perform fellatio. She will never give what it takes to make this relationship work. It is self-evident, no matter what she or others might say, that without morning pleasuring a marriage does not exist. Rather than be hurt morning after morning, I will simply break off contact, deny all hopes, and let this dry, brittle relationship turn to dust and blow away with the wind.