Negotiating change within a long term marriage

A friend in my bible study told me the story of how her mother, after 25 years of marriage, just walked out and got a divorce. No warning. The kids were grown and in college or on their own and she had just had enough of a bad or unfulfilling marriage. My friend relayed that eventually, after the shock wore off, her dad just blossomed. He had a new girlfriend who made him happy. He had to develop relationships with his adult children, because her mom was no longer there to field the calls. It was an unexpected outcome to what could have been a horrible situation for him, being he was the dumped party.

It’s a much kinder way to end an unfulfilling or worse marriage. In my childhood, I remember the grandmothers and great aunts growing up. Several of them were widowed because their husbands died of coronary heart disease in their 40’s and 50’s. Rather than being torn up with grief, these women lived full and active social lives without husband or constraints.  Remember, this was the ‘death do us part’ generation. Now with the perspective of almost 30 years of marriage myself, I can see that it must have been really liberating. Not that I am wishing for a divorce or death to do us part, but it is honestly much harder to imagine a second act for myself, knowing that major changes need to be discussed and negotiated. It is almost like another courtship.

“Hey – this is the person that I am in the process of exploring. Is there room for these new facets of me?”

If I am totally honest with myself, I could do a lot better meeting my husband’s needs. I get really tired. After giving the best of me to the Fortune 500 Company and the rest to running the household, there is precious little left over for him. So any kind of re-invention has to start really, with improving and nurturing this relationship and the man who has literally built a mansion with his own hands for us.   So really, it is not about re-inventing me. It is about re-inventing relationship and community. If every soul has a mortal sin, this one is mine. It is better to not ignore it and commit to changing it, especially in this season of Lent. But like every athlete or musician knows, one can’t store up excellence in performance. It has to be worked every day. This is not a six week personal improvement plan. It is the plan for the rest of a lifetime.

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