March 31, 2021

The Almost Book

Difficulties have, at times, smothered each one of us. They’ve reigned down from the heavens like acid, leaving us with no means of escape. We’ve all been through something. Marriage is not immune to such nipping. In fact, marriage is like prey lying injured in a field, naked and afraid. It’s constantly nipped at, or at the very least circled by life’s vultures.

What I’ve learned is that marriage, from the perspective of individuality in the relationship, is less about how you’re feeling, and more about what your partner is going through and why they are going through it. If you are able to move past behaviors and outcomes, further into your partner’s soul, and directly into the reason you see certain behaviors and outcomes, then you’ve allowed yourself to explore the why of a situation. When we have taken the time to understand the why, we are able to realize the five thousand pound steel beam crushing us against the earth is actually just a five pound foam beam.

It’s at that point in time when we realize we’re more in control than we thought. We can then choose to walk beside our partner or walk away from them, in either case gifting them with grace; grace to say, “I know we can’t work and I’m not going to hurt you any longer,” or grace to say, “I know we can work and I’m right here walking beside you.” For a million different reasons, not every marriage needs to continue, but I have respect for those who at least make it to the “why” before deciding to leave.

I’ve struggled mightily at times in my marriage. One reason is that marriage is just hard. We’re very different, and taking steps to understand those differences is crucial. In addition to this, our marriage is unique with respect to our circumstance. I would venture to say that most marriages aren’t carrying the chronic stress we are, although I know many marriages have a lot of stress, and I would never diminish the challenges a couple faces. But marriages aren’t necessarily designed to withstand the constant erosion chronic stress can place on it. Some marriages overcome that while others don’t—and that’s okay!

During the two years it took me to write The Other Boy, there were plenty of low times in my marriage. I found it extremely difficult during those times to write a book for someone who it seemed I was in a skirmish with. I stopped writing a few times and even made threats to myself that the book would never get finished. I was prepared to let the manuscript die a long, slow painful death in the middle of an underground cavern, but as time went on and I neared the core of why my partner was in so much pain, I was able to overcome my own feelings and stay the course. Eventually I got to the point where I was able to write even when she and I were bickering.

Instant humility never tasted so good.