Friday, August 07, 2009

Serious admiration

...for this woman.

Her husband woke up one day and said "I don't love you. I'm not sure I ever did. I want out."

I've thought about that scenario every now and again, because I've seen it myself a couple of times. I've always considered my marriage to be an exercise in continuing choice: I choose to remain with my wife and she with me. Marriage, contrary to the single man's assertion, is not a prison.

I can't imagine Eva ever saying such a thing to me. But if she did (I've told myself) I'd let her go. Our marriage is not a prison and nor am I a warden. No doubt I'd be deeply hurt, and I sure wouldn't just throw in the towel without a good and long talk or ten--but if leaving me was Eva's perceived best option, who am I to stand in her way?

Now I read Laura Munson's reaction and am humbled before it. Because here's a woman who lives up to, indeed surpasses, every spiritual principle I try, and so often fail, to practice. You know the saying "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"? Munson doesn't allow herself the option of suffering. When her husband came out with those stinging words, instead of reacting with pain, anger and melodrama, she took ten mental steps back and looked at the situation with a cool and level head. She saw her husband had a problem. And she positively refused to allow him to make his problem hers.
In short, she called his bluff. She told him he could have all the distance he wanted, so long as he didn't hurt the family. His initial reaction was puzzlement, followed by anger, the very anger a child feels when the script isn't going the way he thinks it should. Then he resentfully took the freedom she freely gave, pretty much ignoring her and his kids for a few months. (She told the kids that "Daddy's having a hard time, as adults often do. But we're a family, no matter what.")
And wouldn't you know, her approach worked. Her husband got over himself and his little crisis of pride. Sounds like he realized--maybe for the first time in years--how lucky he was to have married the woman he did.

This is how you play a midlife crisis. And this is an example of living life without suffering. All I can say is, bravo Laura Munson.


Wife said...

I can't imagine ever saying this to you my love, but if I was ever to lose my mind and say something this hurtfull, I would hope you reacted the same way as Mrs Munson. I feel the same way about you my husband. If you ever find yourself needing out, I would hope I have the courage to let you go, no matter how hard it was for me. Luckily I don't believe that is in our future. You have already stuck by me in the hardest times I thought I would ever live through, and made me laugh every day, and loved me anyway. Why would I ever leave such a man???
Love you babe.

Rocketstar said...

Ken, thank you so much for this article man, great stuff. I am having my wife read it and I am going to steal this article from you (with credit of course) and re=post chez moi.

Great article, I love her analysis, right on.