Someone very close to me recently discovered that her husband of many, many years had an affair. As you may imagine it was a devastating discovery. I watched my friend go through a myriad (nice word) of emotions: sadness, anger, bitterness, self-loathing, hatred. The list goes on. She has finally come to the point where she has accepted what has happened and believes that it was not her fault. In the process, she lost eighteen pounds in a month due to the stress. She’s finally to the point where she can eat a complete meal. She and her husband are working on their marriage and it really seems as though they are going to get through this.
My friend told me that she was not ready to walk away from her more than 20-year commitment. I (as a twice-divorced woman) never, not once advised her to leave him. Never. When she asked me what I would do, I responded with, “You can’t do what I would do.” She looked at me thoughtfully and agreed. We’re two different people and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. She freely admits that she doesn’t know when/if she’ll ever be able to trust him again but they both are committed to saving their marriage.
I admire the hell outta her.
Because even though I’m not sure I have the strength or courage to do what she is doing, I have to applaud her for it. It’s easy to cut and run. It’s easy to say, “He doesn’t love or respect me so I’m gone.” That stuff is easy. Staying in the midst of the most horrifying disappointment is hard. Looking in the face of the man you love and seeing visions of him with another woman … and still not leaving. Yeah, that shit is hard.
Over the years I have learned plenty from my friend. I always believed that if there was a Marriage 101 course to be taught, she could teach it. Yet, even though by anyone’s standards, she was the perfect wife … her husband still strayed. I will never understand that mess. Ever. If it could happen to her …
Anyway, I’ve always known (maybe not always) that there was a difference between love and commitment. I’ve blogged about the fact that my commitment just wasn’t strong enough in either of my marriages. When the love ended … I was ghost. During my quest to live without fear, I am placing a helluva lot of emphasis on my commitment to my current relationship (because running away is a sign of fear). Over the almost seven years that we’ve been together, I thought it was over plenty of times. Plenty. But it’s different now. Our love is different. Our commitment is growing stronger. We have so much to look forward to and I like imagining our future together. We have our moments and Lord knows on most days he gets on my daggone nerves but I cannot imagine it any other way. I have to remind myself often of my commitment. Not my love, but my commitment.
It’s all lovely and logical but I still find myself wrestling with the idea of commitment. In a perfect situation, commitment is not solely about the other person. It’s about the relationship. Honoring the relationship, the union. Theoretically, there shouldn’t be a problem that two people in a committed relationship cannot work through. Given that they are both willing. I’d like to believe that I am.