Last night, I walked into my bedroom and announced to my husband, Tomorrow I will blog about marriage.  He stared at me for a moment, blinked and then asked incredulously, Our marriage?

Not only is he uber private and uncomfortable with my sharing our stuff to anyone who will read it, I think he was also trying to think up a nice way to say, You? You’re going to write about marriage?

Truth is, I mostly suck at being a wife. Just this morning I actually yelled Shut Up! to him.  That was unnecessarily mean, he replied.  And he was right.  And that was just a regular morning, without a lot of drama attached to it.  So, no, I’m not writing because I hope to inspire anyone with my wife-ing.

I tried to explain to him what I wanted to say about marriage, but I got a bit tongue tied and flustered.  I don’t want to tell the whole world how great ours is, or even try to talk other people into tying the knot themselves.  I’ve just been reading so many beautiful blogs about marriage lately (here’s one from Lysa, one from Sarah, and finally one from Amber), but in my real life, tons of couples around me are still struggling to figure it out.  It seems like marriage is messy and needs to be nurtured constantly.

Marriage also has been on my mind recently because a few weeks ago one of my favorite girlfriends got left in the lurch by her husband of seventeen years.  Although I’ve had plenty of friends get divorced or go through rough patches, this is one situation that has hit closest to home.  It’s the one that made me say, omg, if it could happen to them, it could happen to us!  Our stories are similar: Two high-achieving men married two talented, gorgeous, vivacious young women who birthed them beautiful babies.  With great gusto we gals poured ourselves into motherhood and raising children who feel good about themselves.  We completely ignored the corporate world around us and trusted those men with our very souls to take care of their families to the best of their ability.  This allowed them to pursue, travel, climb and achieve.  Yeah, maybe the bearing of power, responsibility, accountability and stress was not always fair and balanced.  Some of us hoarded the veto power on all parenting choices while others of us may have hoarded all of the big financial decisions.  Perhaps some of us saw exciting parts of the world while others of us saw all the parks in town and had to get our thrills from occasional trips to the emergency room.

But somehow we stumbled through those weighty, exhausting years of parenting.  We fell asleep before we hit the pillows – sometimes as couples, sometimes with various children lying diagonally around us, and sometimes separated by continents. We read picture books until we thought we’d vomit at another rendition of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and we racked up millions of frequent flyer miles. Hindsight is 20-20, so we can all look back and see moments where our marriages were especially vulnerable.  But, boy, has it gotten so much easier.  The men have proven themselves and despite the current economy, simply do not need to work as hard as they once did.  We are not dealing with the back breaking season of parenting that includes diapers, spit up, car naps, double jogger strollers and train set clean-up.  Instead we’re trying to raise bully-proof kids and teens with loads of self-esteem.  Rather than pondering what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we’re trying to figure out when to allow facebook and ear piercing and how to raise musicians without becoming tiger moms. We are all thriving in our various roles.

And then he walked out.

Our friends have three children. She has not worked outside of the home in fourteen years.  The court awarded her $2500 a month in child support and no alimony or any part of his 401K.  For fourteen years he has worked his way up the corporate ladder and has arrived.  She will eventually get there, but she has a long way to go and is beginning this working journey late in life.  And seriously, if you are looking to hire an entry-level professional, are you likely to go for the forty-five-year-old mother of three whose last work computer did not include the Internet, or a fresh college graduate?

While I was driving my husband to work last week, I slammed my hands on the steering wheel and my voice became a little yelly as I got him up to date on what the other slime ball-used-to-be-our-friend husband has finagled.  Here’s the deal, I said to him.  I am trusting you not to do this to me.  Every day that I choose to work a part-time job, volunteer precious hours at your children’s school, cancel my plans when they are sick, or stay up late helping with a school project is a day I am trusting you.

Last year’s popular essay by Katy Read tried to address the imbalance of the working father and stay-at-home mother.  It shook me up then as much as it shakes me up to call my friend right now and feel what she is feeling.  When I read it last year I remember saying to a friend.  Yeah, we’ve put all of our eggs in one basket haven’t we?  She said, Yep, and we put them all in our husband’s basket.

Last night when I told that sweet man I wanted to write about marriage, I didn’t mean to imply that we’ve got a great one, or that I think I’m holding the key. And I don’t mean to suggest that stay-at-homing or working are better choices.  We’ve all got to figure out the best plan for each of us and for all of our kids.

I guess I’m writing because I want my husband and all the husbands out there to understand this:  Your wife trusts you.  Buddy, don’t screw it up!

And just to my own long-suffering, patient one I need to add this: I know it’s not always easy for us, but thanks for sticking it out with me thus far. I want to take walks with you when we’re eighty-five-years-old, and I hope we still want to hold hands.

14 Comments on “Trust.”

  1. jewel says:

    of course I’ve probably totally missed the message here…………….14 years without working and no alimony? only $2500 in child support?! and none of the 401?!!!! I’m going to call my divorce lawyer tomorrow and thank her-she was worth every nickel!….I’m outraged! someone teach me how to blog what I learned on my journey in the event there are other people like me, who also put their eggs in ‘his’ basket….if I knew then what I know now………

    • joylibby says:

      jewel – you are so lovely. 1) Be grateful you live in California! 2) You have much to say that the world needs to hear 3) We miss you at Pause – there’s not nearly enough tearines week to week! Hugs, Girlfriend!

  2. Shelly says:

    This past year was a year of divorce it seems. Most of our friends seem to be in some sort of mid-life crisis. Three couples have split, including our very best friends. We’ve taken family vacations together, held fundraisers, participated in little league sports and all the way up to highschool with our boys, hosted our couples Christmas party every year up until this year, and even helped each other through cancer. Now the husband is still here and she has moved several states away. Sobering. That’s what this past year has been. And enlightening…causing me to look at my own marriage and want to fill in the gaps and repair what is broken. Next month is our 20th anniversary and I am counting on holding hands at 90 🙂

    • joylibby says:

      Shelly, YES – what is happening around us? And how can we shore up our own relationships? These are the questions… And it’s so hard to remain supportive of both and not take sides! Thanks for your sweet comments!

  3. Love your heart and perspective Joy…thanks for sharing both with us.

    • joylibby says:

      Karen — I miss you! I totally envisioned us getting together every month or so. Where has the time gone? I’ve been following your journey of going back to work — loving following you!

  4. Previous "could have been husband" says:

    After reading that I am soooo glad Marci gave in and said yes. I think I remember from a certain speech that my options were limited and that YOU were next in line on my marriage radar! Prior to reading that I had no idea that you were a “bad wife”. Thank God she said yes. Otherwise I might be stuck with you! Haha

    Great post Joy!

    • joylibby says:

      BJ — OK, here’s what I love about your comment. 1) That you took the time to do it. 2) That you remember the speech I gave at your wedding. Seriously, how many grooms remember anything about their wedding day??? Very impressive. And yes, Marci is no doubt a much better wife. Treasure her!

  5. Your last line made me cry.

    You have written out your thoughts with so much honest and I think, well, I think you are right. There is a whole lot of trust that is held in a marriage.

    • joylibby says:

      Trust is all we’ve really got at the end of the day, Jen. Trust in God, trust in those who care for us. Watching someone else abuse that trust throws mine into stark view. Thanks for visiting my virtual sister!

  6. Anonymous says:

    My dear friend…my husband told me he is leaving after 16 years of marriage, and 20 years together. I haven’t had the courage to call. Your post is beautiful, just like you. I’ve got tears in my eyes and I’m speechless but I find myself often in this position often these days. You have no idea how much I miss you and your amazing spirit.

  7. Brett Dresden says:

    A very interesting and insightful essay. It’s interesting that you make a note that you believe that you “trust” in your husband, and for him “not to screw it up”. I believe, in the circumstances you describe, it is a realistic feeling to have – that being said – as the main breadwinner in our household, I implore you to note that I (we husbands) put the same trust in our wives.

    During our pre-children days we both worked and were successful in our fields. When our son was born, my wife indicated she wanted to stay home, be a mom, and focus on raising our children. I was fine with that, and stepped up my focus at my job and in my profession. I quickly ascended and soon the fruits of my labor were being recognized with a new house, new cars, the country club membership, private schooling, etc. I travelled fairly extensively, but made sure to make the recitals and little league games. My wife enjoyed her life. She had the freedom of living her life in the manner she wanted. She would drop the kids off at school – go the the gym, take a yoga class, go to lunches, etc. I do not want to imply that she was spoiled, but she had, for all intensive purposes, a good life.

    Then the economy hit the skids and my mom got sick. I was in real estate development, and went from making $250,000/year to being unemployed. That was followed by losing our house, our cars, income property, life savings and our well established credit. We suddenly were sharing a home with her sister, followed by living with a friend of mine. We didn’t have a car for two years!

    My wife could have taken the easy way out, and left – she certainly didn’t choose “that” kind of lifestyle. But she didn’t. She knew I trusted in her, just as she (and women like you) trusted in me. She tightened up the laces and re-enterered the workforce as a 40-year old in the 20-something world. She held our family together while I was out seeking new employment, and we now are back on the road to recovery.

    It reminded me of a time when we were vacationing in Hawaii with our then four-month old son. I said to her as we looked out over the Pacific, “Honey, we could lose my job, our house, cars, credit, etc…….but as long as we have each other, our family and our friends, we will always be truly wealthy.”

    When that all came to fruition, she replied, “Did you really need to test me!”

    At the end of the day it is a two way street. I feel fortunate that I trusted in her the way she trusted in me – and we are, truly wealthy!

    Brett Dresden

    • joylibby says:

      Brett – Thanks for taking time to write. You and your wife deserve the big trophy for mutually supporting each other during tough times. So often couples allow difficulty to rip them apart rather than make them stronger, so it’s a testament to the inner strength of you both that these recent awful years (for so many) have been an opportunity for marital growth. I agree trust is a two way street and I hope I can someday soon write a post about all of the trust you hard working men have placed in us and how honored we are to be married to men like you. And I would add that most of us wives (can’t speak to all, of course) respect who you are as a person, not the job you hold or the luxury you offer us. At the end of the day, we want YOU in bed with us, not your work identity, your paycheck or what our society tells men they need in order to be successful. Sounds like you married a keeper, my friend.

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