As a retic & turf bloke I sometimes find myself laying lawn in the rain and those days are nothing but a long miserable grind. Even with a raincoat on, my clothes get damp, my boots sodden and the rolls of turf weigh almost double because they get waterlogged too. Everything is difficult and depressing, harder than it should be, but you keep going… you slog on, because you have to, because there is no other option – no way out.
As I look back on our married life, I would see that the hardest times haven’t been the sharp disputes and angry arguments, but rather they have been the ‘slog’ times when it feels heavy and dark and like there is no alternative on the table, with no future except to keep going.
On those days I’d rather lay 200 rolls of waterlogged turf in driving rain than keep pushing on in a relationship that seems to have lost its rudder and has drifted into darkness.
But it happens from time to time as for various reasons our lives begin to become parallel tracks rather than one interconnected track. (And yes – I write that in the present tense because it is not a ‘one off’ past experience that we are now immune to.) It happens slowly at first as we get busy, distracted and pre-occupied, self centred even… but then one day a little while later you look at each other with indifference or maybe even resentment and wonder ‘what happened?’
Well… a lot happened, but not much of it happened together, intentionally, or with the other person in mind.
The end result is a room-mate, a co-parent, a financial partner, a domestic assistant, but not a wife or a husband. And with those new identities comes a dark and disturbing loneliness, of being in the same room with someone you know and love (you think) and yet with whom you have little sense of heart connection or worse still a growing resentment and disappointment, (because its easier to blame than accept your own flaws.)
If you’ve been here then you’d know the inner angst that comes in these times, and the immense challenge of making a course correction when you have sailed so far off track. I’ve met couples who have never made the much needed course correction and who have slowly drifted into being co-habiting strangers, because its too difficult to even contemplate parting ways. There are kids to consider… finances… and even if we don’t like each other any more its just more convenient to stay in the same home even if we live separate lives.
That’s a dark picture, and I have tried to paint it that way intentionally because when you’re there the temptation is to look away and carry on hoping that the tracks will magically reconnect and the spark will re-kindle on its own. But if you’re reading this and saying ‘oh no… that’s us…’ then the challenge (if you are willing to accept it) is to pick up and move back towards the other person.
I’m no fan of divorce as a solution, nor I don’t subscribe to the idea of ‘falling out of love’. I do see that we can drift apart as we choose not to love, but equally I see that we can choose to love, to give and to put the other person first even when the raw feelings are leaning in the opposite direction and often that reignites the embers that are struggling.
These days we are better at spotting our tracks starting to diverge, but equally we are better at choosing to take early loving steps back together knowing that our marriage is built on more than a bag of warm feelings.
So if you’re there, then maybe its time to call it for what it is…
And then… someone has to go first.
Someone has to be the one to acknowledge the need and take the initiative. Maybe its you… Wherever you have drifted to, I believe its possible to come back from, but it starts with a single step… and then another…