Marriage is a series of compromises; everyone has a different idea of their necessary percentage of YES. Mine is 50% which means about half the time, I hold back from doing or saying, buying or selling, something I want to do or say, buy or sell. It’s not that simple either. I need to be 100% in control of my own mind/body/spirit and I need a 100% YES every time I make a plan to visit my kids and grandkids.
Maybe these compromises are why the idea of a do-over, of a blank slate, is so appealing. Movies and novels use this theme all the time. The amnesia patient. The partner running from a violent relationship. The secret wish, expressed fervently, to go back in time and correct what seems to be a mistake. Even the widow who discovers her husband is not who she thought he was…liberating her from grief and granting her the blank slate.
I’ve thought about leaving my 32 year marriage once or twice during a rough patch when my calculations said I was getting the short end of the stick and when nothing I said or did seemed to make change likely. I’ve planned my escape out and the most appealing part of it is not being responsible for anybody but myself. Not having to compromise. To start over and do life exactly the way I want to do it.
Now I’ve kind of got that blank slate (for a limited time) without rancor, grief or divorce. It feels as lovely as I’d imagined and nowhere near as lonely. Of course my husband left our Florida home less than a week ago for Michigan, and I’ll see him again in a few months. I’m sure I’ll have my lonely moments. I concocted an ambitious plan of self-improvement to help me stand strong in my newfound freedom. So far, it’s working.
For example, the stubborn door lock to our new home. Some days the key would open it right up. Other days, it stuck. Yesterday was one of the stubborn sticky days. Jiggling the key, I saw a can of WD40 in my mind. I knew just where Al kept it, although he obviously had not gotten around to using it for the lock. Never mind, how hard can it be? I thought. The answer is not very. I gave it a couple of quick squirts and the lock now works like a charm.
I felt a sense of achievement disproportionate to the action. I texted Al about it. I posted on Facebook as proud as if my latest novel had hit number one on the Amazon chart. My marriage works because we are each comfortable in our own spheres and neither of us treads far into the others’ domain. But now, for the next little while, I will be taking on some Al tasks and he’s back home in Michigan doing the stuff I usually handle.
I didn’t expect any of this. We found a place we weren’t looking for and entered into a new way of life we’d only vaguely contemplated. The whole thing happened quickly, which is so not our style, but it felt right. The blank slate was a bonus I wasn’t thrilled about at first. Since I retired, I’ve been restless and at loose ends. Also, sometimes, lonely and depressed. I thought that lonely and depressed part would just be worse if I was all alone. But the opposite has happened. At least for now.