I remember the first time I heard someone say regarding relationship longevity that it’s “not 50/50, it’s 100/100." The idea being that each person has to put all of him or herself into a marriage for it to be healthy and happy. That it requires a tremendous amount of work and sacrifice and it requires you to be all-in all the time. Not two halves of one whole. Two people giving 100%.
It’s funny, I’m not sure how old I was or from whom I heard it, but while my head was in the process of exploding, I do remember thinking “I’m totally going to start saying that. That sounds super wise and enlightened.” Then, a year or so into my prolonged honeymoon period with my awesome mate, I considered this idea again and thought, “we totally do that. All-in. Relationship mastered! Please excuse us while we go brush each other’s shoulders off.”
It’s true: Sheldon and I do make a habit of suiting up and showing up for one another each day, bringing mutual respect, admiration, and affection to the table. It’s not hard for me to love him. On the contrary, I’m a decade in and still catch myself thinking “what Archangel did I have to blow to land this current life scenario. I mean, SCORE.”
I don’t gather that it’s hard for him to love me either. I spent a lot of my life trying to hide all my crazy, met him in circumstances in which that was basically impossible, and then discovered that all these bits of myself I considered to be defective were what drew him toward me. A classic case of the whole “not in spite of, but because of” idea. One that hit me anew and like a ton of bricks when I noticed that in the moments when I felt most vulnerable and sheepish, he wore the biggest “omguhhh I’m OBSESSED with you” grin.
We’re two of the lucky ones.. And I don’t think either of us takes that for granted. Not ever. Here’s the thing though: for the past 8 months, because of a combination of difficult circumstances and choices, my husband is as depleted and discouraged as I’ve ever experienced him. He comes home from work and has literally nothing left to give. There’s no time or energy to take care of himself and certainly none extra for listening to complaints about teething and tantrums. It’s rough Chez Magner lately y’all.
I was complaining to a close girlfriend about this recently and trying to troubleshoot how I can process and let go of my resentment so that I can better support him. Because he really needs support (and I really have resentment). She said to me, “what nobody tells you about marriage is sometimes it’s 100/0. You need to think about all the times when you’ve had nothing left to give him and consider that maybe it’s your turn.”
But seriously, why are people so brilliant? It cracked me wide open, thinking about how I’ve pretty much always been the pitcher of “worse” in the “for better or worse,” whether I was sick or trying to get sober or in the throes of “2 under 2.” It’s my turn to give grace, to hold space for his struggle and support him, because God knows he’s done it for me. He's always been the shedder of light, bearer of responsibility, provider of perspective and levity. I stomp around and thrash and whine and he makes it better. That's the deal. That's our thing. But that's not fair.
This is when it’s particularly crucial that I don’t expect my spouse to be the gate keeper of all my needs. Because that is too much to ask of any human, even one you’re pretty sure could be your soulmate. He’s empty now, y’all. It’s sad a lot in my house. And he needs me big time. So I’ve got to lean on my tribe and fill my tank however I'm able. It’s my job to get love and joy where I can so that I can be the light my family needs.
Okay, so maybe no fellating of heavenly entities occurred. I have to remember that he's a human being with human struggles, and it's too much pressure to consider him otherwise.
(But I still think I probably cracked a knee cap for someone important)