Monday, June 30, 2008


She is getting anxious, worried. I can see it happening layer by layer. It starts with money.

"You're going to have to make some money this month."

She has a profound grasp of the obvious. She doesn't understand that just because I don't run around like a chicken with its head cut off doesn't mean I'm not concerned about the state of our finances.

"Have you sent in that rebate yet? We could really use the money."

The problem is that there is no room for both worry and trust - they cannot occupy the same space. Like matter and anti-matter it's an explosive combination.

"Have you gotten back to Eric yet? And have you contacted Brian?"

Level two - not only am I not making enough money but it's because I'm not working hard enough. Here's where we run into issues - you see there's a kernel of truth, a logical validity to all of her points which makes them unassailable from a reasonable point of view.

"Do you have any idea how much we have to pay per month for our insurance? Did you know when you signed up for it that it was $140 per month?!"

Level three - not only am I poor and lazy but I'm stupid too. If this were a computer game she'd be a grand master. Accusation, guilt, manipulation wielded with such skill for so long that she doesn't even realize she's doing it.

Okay, I have a confession to make. Well, two confessions really. First, I understand where she's coming from. I really do. What it comes down to, ultimately, is that she's scared. Like the three blades of a propeller spaced around its hub, the three layers of her worry cluster about that central fear. Fear of being dependent on somebody else. Fear of being let down. Fear of being held responsible for something that's not her fault. Fear of being hurt. And when she's afraid, in order to protect herself, she stops trusting because trusting makes her vulnerable.

My second confession is that, even though I understand all of that, when those blades start spinning and they get too close, it hurts. It REALLY hurts! It cuts right in to all of my own fears: of being rejected; of being ridiculed and mocked; of not being trusted; of not being able to provide for my family. And when I get hurt I retreat behind walls of sarcasm and unreasoning anger to protect myself.

Here we are at an impasse. Both of us have retreated behind the ramparts prepared for a siege which neither one of us have really launched. Rather than being two suburbs of the same familial city, we have pretended to God-like power and thrust mountains and dense forests and deserts between us, breaking the unity that should be ours as husband and wife.

I want to tell her that even given the logical undeniability of her accusations (and they all have roots in reality) they are not an excuse not to trust. If she won't trust me, and I can accept that even though it hurts, she still needs to trust the true provider of our family - God. He has never let us down and never will. I want to tell her that I know what she wants from me and yelling at me, accusing me, manipulating me won't get it for her. It has, in fact, the opposite effect. But the truth of the matter is that she already knows this and telling her would only make things worse.

So here's my third confession: I love her. Even hurt and angry I still love her. I would rather be hurt by her than anybody else. And I would rather live in unity with her, at the risk of being hurt again, than be protected by the artificial topography of anger and mistrust. Will she forgive me? I can only trust that she will.


Velvet Verbosity said...

I've been where she is. I've been where you are. Nothing tests a relationship like worry. All I can give you for advise, and I think it's good advice, is to take those confessions, those understandings, and apply them. If you know she's scared, then tell her you understand and offer her some nurturing. If you know she is attacking from a rampart based on fear, then acknowledge and it will dissolve and the two of you can return to being the team you both want to be.

At the same time, you can comfort yourself, acknowledge your own fears, and soothe them.

Love, real love, gives. You've got nothing to lose (except pride) by extending outward, and everything to lose by staying behind your defenses.

Ash said...

Thank you, VV. That is good advice - thank you for taking the time to write it!