Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Question

Ok. I talked to my husband yesterday. Well, let's rephrase that. I listened to my husband yesterday. I could have argued with him and won hands down. But I just listened. My internal dialog would have liked to scream rebuttals to what he said, but I just listened. My heart would like to write out on ticker tape that the hurt that he wants me to "just get over it" is largely inflicted by him. But I just listened.

His big complaint right now is two-fold. Well, there is a third, but I don't see that as hugely valid.

1. I don't respect him. (Such as, I told people his problems.)
2. I don't trust him.
and the third...
3. I have no friends and am not happy.

I will discount number three because it is blatantly untrue. I have friends. I am different than him in that I prefer a few friends that I know well rather than many that I superficially visit with. He could be possibly upset that I am not friends with who he wants me to be friends with... but we'll address this one later.

The "I don't trust him". Well, no, I don't. He has proven who he is. So trust would be foolish. I can trust him to fail again. That is what I can trust. But... laying quietly in my bed at night practicing silence - the silence not of my mouth, but of my mind - I wondered. Love is a choice. Is trust a choice? Can I trust him as a choice, knowing ahead of time that he will fail? Can I trust anyway, choosing to give him what he does not deserve? Am I safe enough in my Father's arms to do that?

I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm not much of a person for snap answers. But I'm asking it.

The "I don't respect him". Well, again, no. Hard to do, you know, when he yells at me and the kids. When the very things he teaches, he does not do. I like openness. I like doing what you say you will do. I like dependability. I value these things. And I don't respect him. Yes, I know we have to respect our husbands. So I am puzzled here. For what?

I tried to explain to someone today that honestly, I respect my husband like (democrats, go plug your ears) I respected President Clinton. I respected the office of president and the position he had and the respect the position entailed, but his character and person, I did not respect. That is how I feel about my husband. I respect the position he holds, but not his character. I respect some skills he has - he is a charmer, a people-person, a easy talker, things like this.... but not his character. I respect his vision and goals... but not his character. I think his actions to hurt me when he is angry are not respectable.

So, I guess my question is, - and don't answer if you have a perfect life and a wonderful husband who is always kind and good but only occasionally throws his socks on the bedroom floor - how do we respect husbands who perhaps ...umm.... well....

See, too many marriage books talk about respect and stuff like that, but their examples are people who leave their dishes on the table, forget to mow the lawn, don't work hard enough to provide.... not for people who blow it and get so angry that they think it is funny to hurt their wives. Not for people who will keep going with the verbal taunts and accusations until they get you to cry and then are happy. Not for people who will clam up for weeks on end giving you the silent treatment because they are angry.

So, those of you who have been to the edge of failure and worked your way at least part way away from that edge, how do you respect a husband?

And to how I'm feeling today? Well, I had a talk with someone yesterday, and I left in the evening to go sit alone and cry. Because I feel hopeless and alone. People tell me this, "You need to decide what to do. No one is going to fix your marriage for you." I agree. I'm not expecting anyone to fix it. But I was hoping someone will tell me what I am supposed to be doing. No. I have to decide that.

I feel like I have been given a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer (usually fatal), and then taken down to the hospital dispensary and walked in the door. "Here are many choices of medications. Some of them might help you. You need to decide what to take." And left alone. The very bulk of meds on row after row of shelves is mind-boggling. How could I chose? And even if I managed to luck on the right choice, how would I know I was taking it the right way and the right dose? A few people said, "well I can give you some books" (if you've suggested some, don't feel guilty.... likely I am not talking about you.), but I feel as bewildered as if I was shown the medical journals and the infamous, big, blue PDR (physisian's desk reference - a book about ten inches thick of microfish writing about every drug known to mankind.)

I feel completely bewildered and alone.

I'm cold. Shivering cold. Tired. Unable to retain heat.

I'm so bewildered that I am tempted to just walk out of the room without trying any meds. How could I ever know which to try? Perhaps I am just better to go home and pretend everything is fine. To put on a nice face and smile and to cover my inside self in a head to toe shawl. Wearing the veil. Covering cloth which turns women from individuals into a shape of cloth, indistinguishable from the next shape.

I feel bewildered and alone today. I've picked up this one med, and am turning it over and over in my hand looking at it. Is this the right one for this situation? Or isn't it? How do I take it? Is it a cream you rub on or are you supposed to swallow it? How much? I don't know. And I feel exhausted.

I agree that no one is going to fix my marriage for me, but I had hoped someone would know what to do. No one wants to take that responsibility, so I stand alone in a large room with rows of meds. I'm sure one of them might fix this, but which one?


Karis said...

Ellie, I have no idea what to tell you which frustrates me, and in fact, there is a lady in our church who just got saved three months ago who I also have no idea how to counsel her. With her, part of me is "rescued" from this lack of wisdom because of my French abilities, but the part of me that aches for her doesn't want to be rescued from not being there for her even though I don't know what to say even if I was talking to her in English. Her husband (that's what she calls him -- he has another wife too so I don't know how all that works out here) does not treat her well AT ALL because among many "reasons," she hasn't gotten pregnant. Several years ago, her first delivery went wrong and she thinks that's why she has been unable to get pregnant -- how can he hold her responsible for not getting pregnant? It enfuriates me. She cried in church when she heard preaching of God's unconditional love, grace, and mercy, and she got saved that day. But of course, her problems continue -- as we all know, salvation doesn't suddenly make all good here in this world. Not sure why I'm telling you all this, but I guess it's just because I wish I knew what to advise her and you.

I have only been married for 9 years, and while my husband and I have had to work hard at our marriage at certain times, I don't have experience to draw from in these situations. I have deep sympathy but not firsthand empathy that would help so much. I completely understood your analogy of a diagnosis and rows of medicine and being alone as you chose what to take. Bless your heart.

I can't come alongside you in advice for respecting husbands who don't make it easy, but I am here as a long distance listening ear.

Sharon said...

There was a time when my husband was asking me to trust him and give our marriage a chance again, and I asked a friend "How can I trust him when everytime that I decide to fully trust him, is when he breaks that trust again". My friend said to me " You can't trust him, but you can trust God." That is what I say to you. We have now been married 25 years and I'm glad I listened to my friend.

Shan in Japan said...

Single girl stepping in to say that I haven't a clue which medicine but am praying that someone who does, will!

(Ironically, my word verification is 'tries'!)