We can see the damage caused by yesterday’s early morning storms. Perhaps we can’t put everything back together in the exact way it was prior to the wind, hail, rain, and spotty tornadoes. But we can clear the debris, plant more trees, mend roofs and mop up the water.
Too bad it doesn’t work the same way with relationships.
We have just learned that a pair of friends have separated, ending a marriage of more than twenty-five years. With their children recently out of college and a new chapter opening up for them, I can only ask the age old question- ‘what happened’?
It appears as if nothing of substance really blew through their lives, just mid-life crisis, hair dye, sports car, bachelor pad – almost too cliche to write down. Of course, can I know this exactly? Can anyone outside of the two involved ever know the real details of marital discord?
What can we say to the injured? How can we help? ‘I’m sorry’, is all we have managed to offer. Emotional damage isn’t like a fallen tree – although the injured wife seems to feel buried beneath the weight of an oak – we can’t free her of its limbs.
And what about him? Is he hurting in some way that he just can’t quantify? Is that why he is changing himself on the outside – trying to manifest the outward appearance of turmoil? Should we feel as bad for him as we do for her? Were the last few years as happy as we perceived them to be? It is unseemly to ask such questions. We take whatever is offered and reconstruct the crime scene like a forensic specialist. Pieces are missing. What did she mean by that last statement? Waiting for a new clue, we only nod and say again, ‘I’m sorry’!
Storms do a few things for us. Physical storms cause us to reevaluate our surroundings; does that tree need trimming before a limb falls on the deck, does the roof need mending, are the gutters free of debris? Emotional storms also cause us to look at what might need attention in our lives. Do I take my marriage for granted – could I be more attentive and spontaneous – what do I need that is lacking?
I don’t know what kind of severe weather blew through the lives of our friends. But, I do know that those of us who are sitting inside of our comfortable little nests need to learn from the shifting winds. Do not wait for the tree to land on your house before you take action. Plan a romantic trip, make your spouse feel special, tell him/her what you need. Make your partner feel young and desirable within the walls of your marriage. At least then, if the storm comes for you, it will be with conviction that you can say that you did all that you could have done to weather proof your marriage.
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