My husband will leave again soon. Another trip. Our lives punctuated by when Daddy is here and when he is gone. The kids are older. Their needs are not so difficult as when they were toddlers. They are old enough not only to assume responsibilities, but to care for me when I need it. Even the little ones know that right now mommy needs them to step up, to use their energy where I don't have much. So we manage well.
How are we doing? It is a hard question to answer. I pray, I pray, I pray, and I wait. And there is silence. Both from God and from my husband. He's cordial now, talking in the family. We discuss kid's schedules, grocery lists, and other mundane things. That is an improvement from his month of silence.
His indifference to any assistance in the house has been hard for me this last month as I've struggled with sickness and trouble breathing. I wish for a husband who would say a few simple words: "How can I help?" or who would simply pick up the iron instead of saying, "I need more shirts". He knows how to do all housework and I'm struggling to breathe. But I'm not willing to face an argument, so I silently struggle on.
But he has not exploded in anger for a few weeks. There is some good in that, and collectively, the kids and I slowly let out our held breath. (Except for me.. breathing out is still tough to do without Ventolin!) We enjoy the lull and pray it lasts.
This is how I feel. It is as if he is trying to hold two very large, heavy balls. Balls too big to be held with one hand. Both his family and his anger. And he can't. We've helped him before by propping him up, by living in reaction to him. We aren't any longer. We aren't against him at all. We just have decided to be stable. Both balls are too big to hold without dropping one. I hope and pray he makes the right choice and chooses to drop the anger.
Having been through my own struggles to be free from the past which can burden our present too much, I am very aware that it is not so simple as "dropping the anger". We are willing to help. Part of that willingness is the willingness not to be part of the problem. Not to add to the anger. Not to get involved in it. Also the difficult and often misunderstood decision not to ignore it, not to prop him up, not to pacify, not to allow the anger to dictate our lives. By stepping out of the circle, I have opened myself up to harsh criticism that I am "abandoning my husband" or "taking over the reins of the family". I haven't. I am here. Praying for change. Hoping. But choosing not to be an enabler of anger. I chose to be an enabler of healing. That choice is painful. I have to endure loneliness. I have to wait for his timing, not demanding my own. I have to ignore anger thrown in my direction. I have to forgive the pain, choosing to say that my pain is not as important as his healing. I have to stay. Stay here, stay stable, stay loving... in a relationship where I am getting nothing in return. I have to stay strong... allowing him to feel the consequences of his choices rather than to rescue him and brush the problem under the table.
He will only deal with his problems when he wants to. I have to trust God that God will ultimately speak to His child and deal with him in His way. I have to trust that as God's child, my husband will respond to the discipline of His Father. I have to trust enough to step out of the way and quit demanding that He do it in my way or in my time table. It's been a long wait, and the wait is lonely and hard. I really have no clue as to what is going on in his heart and what God is doing. I wait and I watch. I think I may sense a softening, but I don't know. Perhaps it is only wishful thinking. Perhaps it isn't.
Yesterday, I crumpled to the ground and sobbed. I let myself for two minutes. Then got up, wiped the tears, squared my shoulders, and went on cleaning my house. I have to be able to go on. To chose stability in a life of unstability. To pray and hope. If I give in to my own feelings and try to dump those on my husband now - my needs, my pain, my wants - he can't face himself. I feel God is telling me to leave him to Him. To leave myself in the hands of God, and let my husband be first of all a child of God, and then a husband. Let him deal with God face to face and deal with whatever the root of this anger is - whether it is wounds, pain, or feelings he hasn't yet been able to hand over to God. Only then will he be able to be a husband. If he can't carry his own pain right now, he can't carry mine, too. Especially when he knows he is causing my pain.... and he isn't even able to stop that since he can't even carry his own yet. Leave him to heal with God and then he will be able to heal in our relationship.
It isn't an easy position. There is something in each of us that wants to say, "hey, what about me?!" To demand our needs be filled. To insist on our rights. To say that this is not fair. It isn't. I've fought for my rights long enough. Demanded that he stop being angry. That he become a good husband.
I don't know if he can be.
At least not until he becomes a good child. Not until he is secure as a child of God. Able to open the wounds of his heart to God and find healing there.
I feel if I fight now for "a good relationship" that I will lose everything. He isn't capable of it now. So I am not "fighting for my marriage". I'm fighting for my husband. By being stable and uninvolved.
Even Jesus went off a distance to struggle with God alone. There are some battles that must be fought first with God. All others stand by watching and praying.
That is all we can do.
For me, it is hard. I am a communicator. A talker. I love conversation - not the shallow group conversation of a party, but the heart to heart of a friend over coffee. Right now, I'm carrying pain - yet unable to express it much. I'm lonely, deeply lonely, yet unable to reach out much. After awhile, what is there to say? We just wait. Wait, watch, and pray.
I have faith in God's ability to deal with His own. That holds me on dark days. I've seen Him deal with me. I also know that God does not force His children. He wants their hearts, not their fear. So He waits. He calls gently. And He allows them to go further until they realize how much they need Him. And then He is right there.
So while I have faith.... I have no assurance that the end is around the corner. I wait, hoping, but knowing I need the strength to endure with patience.
I was thankful God never forced me to heal on His time, but waited for my heart. Now I need to chose to be thankful that He will not force my husband, either.
Wait with me.