Four days ago, I was absolutely positive that my marriage was completely over. It seemed like neither of us had any reason or inclination to stay anymore. We sat on the sofa discussing things like splitting our debt, when I would move out, what to do with the dogs…all the little things that seem so tiny but add up into a giant ball of marriage. I asked him what it was that he had written for his marriage counseling assignment, “What would be the number one thing that would make him want to stay in this relationship?” I was thoroughly thrown by his answer; he wanted me to be completely engaged when we were together, instead of my constantly worrying about the house, or the dogs, or the kids, or the car, or the million other things that have my attention instead of him.
It took a while of more talking, but my brain finally registered that what he asked for had nothing to do with what he said his major complaint is, which is our finances. I realized that I had no idea what he really wanted, and neither did he.He kept saying he wanted things to go back to the way they were when we were dating, but he couldn’t tell me what he enjoyed about that time. I also realized I couldn’t expect to receive anything when I wasn’t giving anything either. Suddenly, our entire conversation shifted from splitting up to compromising.
As we spent hours and hours just talking, we agreed on the things we both like, admitted the things we’re not so fond of, and started working on making things work. The biggest compromise of all was on home improvement. He hates it, but I really can’t do it all by myself, and he doesn’t want me to pay anyone to do these things, either. We agreed that one day a month, we would spend the entire day working on a room, or a project, or going through a pile of clutter, or whatever, together; the rest of that month, I might work on stuff, but I would stop at 5pm, and I wouldn’t stress about things being done “RIGHT NOW!!!!”
Ron agreed that he would stop calling my craft supplies clutter. That was something that would always piss me off, and I would bite my tongue. It was like the argument we had years ago about winter clothes and summer clothes. Having lived in climates with more than two seasons (hot and hotter), Ron couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t switch out my clothes, storing the off season clothes until they were needed again. I grew up with many a Christmas Day spent running around in shorts and a tank top, and I’ve experienced cold fronts as late as May. In other words, in Texas, there isn’t any way to predict what the temperature (hence the clothing selection) will be based strictly on what month of the year it happens to be.
Craft supplies are a lot like that. I have a lot of different crafts that I do; cross-stitch, crochet, card-making, chain maille, jewelry, collage…and I had no idea how many of them start with C. Anyway, I work on projects based on my mood, or the need for a gift, or for a contest entry. There really isn’t any way to determine what supplies I will need on what day. I can keep them organized (which I don’t), but I can’t really put them in storage. For one thing, a lot of craft supplies are heat sensitive. For another, bugs LOVE things like yarn, glue, and paper as much as I do.
Ron is a very logical person. He is an accountant, which I think says it all. Although I was in the software field for years, I was programming or designing; even within the confines of logic, I was still creative. Even now, I may work in what may seem to be a logic based field (social media), but it has an extremely creative aspect to it (graphic design). Ron has absolutely no need to create. He likes to run around and gather berries, mine gold, and build town halls, but that’s as creative as he gets. So he doesn’t get it. I don’t want him to get it, but I do want him to respect it. He agreed to do so.
It is pretty amazing what can happen when two people completely give up; there’s nothing left to lose, so you might as well be honest. With honesty comes respect, with respect comes compromise, and with compromise comes a relationship that was better than where you started. We still have a long way to go, but at least we both agree to the same path, “together” together.
“The secret of a happy marriage,
maybe you should write this down
If you want to keep a love together,
the best way is to end it now
Because when you both know its over,
suddenly the truth comes out
You can talk about your secret passion,
you can talk about your restless doubt
When there’s no pretending,
then the truth is safe to say,
Start with the ending,
get it out of the way
Now there’s no defending,
because no one has to win
Start with the ending,
its the best way to begin.”