October 11, 2012

What is Your Relationship Showing You? ~ Nikki Di Virgilio

Five year vow-renewal in Maui

 The Soul Reporter on Being a Team.


Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. ~Antoine de Saint Exupery

I remember when this quote had resonance. It was during a time when my husband and I worked as a team. Our eyes were looking outward toward the island of Maui from our suburban home in Minnesota. While we faced the same direction, we tore down the life we were only beginning to build.

We sold the house we were married in, and many of the items contained inside. Together we defeated the naysayers, and continued to say yes to our dream. We would defy the $5 a gallon milk prices, island fever, prejudice for haoles, a terrible school system, rust eating our cars, and even cockroaches.

But, we never made it to Maui, and soon our eyes began to drift away from the island of Maui, and also away from each other. It’s been 10 long years since we sold our cul-de-sac home, and we’ve watched our life go to hell ever since. We’ve also watched our marriage do the same.

It’s time to rebuild. But how?

First, we have wondered if we should rebuild together. After all we have been through, do our eyes still look toward the same direction? After all the gazing at each other, and projecting what is our own at the other, are we still a team? Through the rubble of our life and our marriage, is there anything worth salvaging, which holds us together?

I remember in the beginning of our marriage—I wanted to leave many times. Of course, I made him be the reason why that would make sense.

But, what it really was is this: I did not like the woman who was showing up in my marriage. She went against my marriage vows. She was not who I expected.

I suppose I thought, after we “jumped the broom,” the past would be over and I’d turn into the fantasy woman I saw in my mind. The image of her stained my mind, and she was not the controlling, belittling, insecure and sad woman who kept showing up.

The glare of me in the marriage was often too much, and I wanted to run away.

But, I didn’t. I have stayed. I no longer freak about this sad, controlling woman. In fact now, it is rare that she visits. Yet, she left some damage. My husband took my rantings all those years. He swallowed my belittling remarks. He absorbed the fear I had of him and myself, and it wasn’t until I had changed that I noticed he was not seeing the new me, but was reacting to the old me.

I hated this because I  knew the effort it took to change, and I wanted to be acknowledged for this. It wasn’t happening, and I kept playing defense. This is just one dynamic, which built a wedge between us, and has us questioning: can we trust each other? Do we want to rebuild together?

Further, for me, is this a marriage only to learn about myself and face my demons? Was he just the catalyst to my metamorphosis? Or can I also be that woman I vowed to be with this man? Is there a purity present within our commitment? Simply—can we rewrite our story?

These remain unanswered questions. But, what I can say is this: marriage is a mirror that will show us what we hold inside—our fears, insecurities, jealousies. It will also show us our dreams, our fantasies and illusions. If we dare to look, we may want to run for the hills or find a new partner, blaming it all on the one we are with. But, the opportunity for growth, healing and change is too great to do so.

Although marriage is complex, and we go through periods in which we feel separate and against each other, could it be even in these moments we are still a team? Could it be that bond between us is so strong and flexible that it can withstand the moments, days, months, even years of our dysfunction?

Rumi’s famous quote comes to mind: Beyond wrong doing and right doing is a field. I will meet you there.

And I wonder—can I meet my husband there? I will let you know.


(This is the third in an on-going series of articles by the author exploring the dynamics and growth of a marriage in turmoil and metamorphosis. You can read the first and second installment here).


Editor: Lori Lothian

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