I know a girl. She's got babies and a husband and a full time job. She's got a house decorated for Valentine's Day, and Easter, and all. the. things., clean bathrooms, and a dinner schedule. She checks homework, wipes baseboards, and makes grocery lists in her head. She juggles doctor appointments, farming seasons, and sports season calendars. Her shower was interrupted by a five-year-old, her heart was splintered when he told her she was left wanting, and sometimes, there's a snot smear on her blouse at work. And at any given moment, hiding behind her picturesque, practiced, forced, fake smile, is a narrative that runs through her head:
I can't do this anymore.
This isn't love.
I want out.
So far out.
Out of the corner.
And she's not the only one. Across the board, women are barely holding on. Beams of light diminishing in the face of spouses that half love, half care, and half try. Diminishing under the weight of volunteering for clubs and leagues and groups and committees. Diminishing in the onslaught of a society that pits a woman against herself with photoshop, social media, and apps on phones that are quiet, secretive, ticking timebombs for marriages.
She's tired, this girl I know.
In her bones.
She's exhausted. You can only really tell by the puffiness that surrounds her eyes from the lack of sleep and the lack of anyone around her to fill her bucket back up ... Her spouse simply chooses not to notice.
It wasn't very long ago that I said I wouldn't get married again until I had it figured out - until I had it nailed down. Until I could point to a place in my own failed marriage and say, "Yes. This. Right here. This is where it all went pear-shaped."
Turns out - the answer was right in front of me the whole time.
It's paying attention.
Just three words (four if you count the contraction).
It's the noticing of the puffy eyes, or the lack of sleep, or the dinner being pushed around on a plate.
It's the noticing of sentences being cut short by laundry or the oven timer or a text message.
It's the noticing of how her boss treats her at the company party.
It's the noticing of how she rubs her neck as she walks up the stairs.
My goodness, we're busy, aren't we? All of us. Calendars bursting and dang. We are not perfect people. Are are not meant to plow through life. We are not built for break-neck speed.
We are meant for deep breaths and hand holding. And we are meant to live this life as witnesses to one another.
I'm probably not the person to hand out marital advice. In fact, on every single cute-wedding-advice-thing I come across, I write, "keep separate checking accounts!" because #mytruth. But I've been observing the still-married couples in my own life for four years now - wondering, questioning ... how it all went totally wrong.
The wives I know that complain are not complaining about things that are wild and out of control. I have no friends that are living in immediate danger.
I do have friends that are raising babies, raising money for classrooms, cooking dinner at night, folding and putting away all. the. laundry, and then going to work the next day with ironed pants and big, shiny, fake smiles and eyes that just want to shut for just ... one ... more ... second.
And the friends that I know? The ones that are like kids in Wal-Mart jumping up and down in front of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (day in the life of my kid) just begging for some kinda something from their spouse?
Somewhere along the way, her spouse just forgot. He forgot how good reciprocal love feels, and he forgot to celebrate her. He forgot how to hold her hand - he forgot how the warmth of her own hand felt in his.
He just ... forgot. He forgot that even silence is an answer.
Somewhere along the way, the idea that she so desperately needs attention was labeled "needy". And damn if that doesn't just suck a little. Needing acknowledgement isn't base. It's not annoying.
It's the difference between the girl I know staying.
Walking through life with another person has to be one of the most difficult things in the whole, big, wide world. Sharing space, time, hobbies, family, babies, chores, friends ... it can just be so tedious. And it's so much freaking work, you guys. Whew. The work.
Here's what I've gathered from my three year study:
You gotta pay attention to each other.
Put down your phones.
Shut off the TV after the kids go to bed, turn the lights down low, and look at each other.
Rest your head on his shoulder.
Ask about his day.
Ask about hers.
And then listen hard - even to the deep breath before the answer.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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