Remember when I mentioned that things were pretty good in my marriage? Well, right after I wrote that, they started chafing again. It was to be suspected, our good periods never last all that long.
And honestly, we’re not even in a bad place, it’s just not good. Our marriage is not unraveling, but it feels threadbare. Sometimes I wonder though, if this meh-place, which is defined primarily by apathy, but also includes significant tinges of frustration and irritation, is worse than being truly angry at each other. If we can’t care enough to get angry, is there anything left?
Things were already starting to chafe, even before our weekend away, but it was the three days in the snow with my parents that really highlighted it for me. On the one hand, I’m proud that we never actually got mad at each other, on the other hand, it’s kind of frightening how little effort that takes these days, even when we’re clearly not happy with each other.
I blame myself, for my marriage. If I had spent a fraction of the energy contemplating what it would actually be like to be married to my husband, as I expended on being afraid of never having kids, I probably could have foreseen this. But I was blinded by fear. All I wanted was children, the rest of it was ultimately background noise. Even at the time, when the stories I told myself about our relationship were so compelling, there was a part of me that knew I was really doing it to have kids.
It wasn’t that I knew it wasn’t going to work, our marriage I mean; it wasn’t that I lied to myself about that. I honestly didn’t know if my husband was the right person for me (I still don’t). But I had never been with anyone else and I figured that even the people who thought they knew, couldn’t really be sure. Marriage is a gamble, always, whether you want to believe it or not.
That is what I thought–and I still believe it–but I fell back on that without looking at what was there for me to see. I convinced myself that I couldn’t be sure, so that I wouldn’t be forced to be to make as honest of an assessment as was possible at the time.
Would I have ended up with my husband if I hadn’t been so blindly driven to have kids? I don’t know. I think there is as much chance that I would have as not. The truth is, I can’t know. And it doesn’t matter even if I could, because we’re married now and we have two kids and we need to either make this work, or walk away.
It’s not that we’re anywhere close to walking away, but I worry that a after a few years more of this kind of apathy we might be.
And yes, I realize that means that I need to pull us out of the apathy. I need to do the hard work giving a fuck again. But it’s so hard to feel like I’m the only one. As long as we’re having somewhat regular sex (once a week is good, twice a month is passable), and I stay off my husband’s case, he could do this indefinitely. I honestly don’t think he cares. Would he appreciate it if our marriage were better? I’m sure he would. But even if he recognized that he would be happier in a more satisfying marriage, I don’t think he’d do anything to change it. He just doesn’t have the drive when it comes to personal matters like these. He’d much rather wait it out, taking the past of least effort and resistance, than do the hard work necessary to change things. Even if someone guaranteed him it would work, that we’d both be happier with each other if took the time, I don’t know if he’d dedicate the time and energy to actively work on himself, let alone us.
I know that I’m supposed to be okay with that. I know that I’m supposed to work on changes in myself, because that is the only half of the equation I have any control over, but it’s damn hard to put in the effort when I don’t think my partner would (or will) do the same.
I don’t know. Things aren’t bad enough for me to suggest we do something radical, like see a marriage counselor. Maybe I need to go myself, to work on my own apathy. Because I am the only one I can change in our relationship
I mean, if I did the work, and revived our marriage, I would gain as much as my husband. How can my resentment run so deep that I would refuse to put in the effort myself, knowing what I would gain? Clearly I have some work to do on my half of the equation. I just honestly don’t know if I care enough to do it.
And maybe that is really the only thing that has changed. Maybe we’re exactly where we’ve been a hundred times before, and the only thing that’s different is that I don’t have the energy or drive to work on myself. I want to care enough to do it, but I just can’t muster the enthusiasm to make it happen.
Because honestly, what is the point? I keep coming back to that old adage: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I truly believe that insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. But I guess it’s never that easy in a relationship, because the peripheral components are always changing, and so the situation is never truly the same. Maybe that is why I kept thinking I could change enough for the both of us, because so much else was shifting in our lives.
I don’t know. I’m surely making it out to be worse than it really is. I know many people are in less satisfying marriages. And I am thankful to be with my husband, even if I wish we could be more for each other. Things probably are good enough, and it’s so easy to fall back on the “well the kids are young and shit is hard right now, we’ll work on things when it’s easier” mentality, which is my husband’s attitude about everything that he might want to change. Maybe that is just what I should do. Wait it out, work on other areas of discontent in my life, and hope that we can find our way back to something more meaningful when we don’t have to work so hard to manage it.
I mentioned before that this is my year of embracing loneliness, but it’s more than just learning to live without the expectation of friendship, it’s about becoming self-sufficient, about relying on no one but myself for my own contentment. I really do believe I have to get to this place to have meaningful friendships, and maybe it is the key to my marriage as well. I’ve come a long way in my journey to being okay alone, but I definitely have more terrain to travel. Hopefully as I near the end of that journey, I’ll be ready to fight for my marriage again. In the meantime, ambivalence will have to be good enough.