I wrote this, drunk, on a subway back from a fancy restaurant in SoHo one night. I was on my way home after following a saddening conversation with my dearest and closest sister. I hope it sheds some sort of insight into the perils of marital distress and the anxiety that relational rifts can truly have on those close to you.
” I once foolishly believed that marriages could work out. That they could be happy and joy-filled, and I don’t know… purposeful.
I’m not sure where my belief sprouted from. I certainly never got a healthy picture of marriage from my parents. They stayed together, God knows why. My emotionally abusive alcoholic father controlled the dynamic of the household. If he was angry, it was like walking on eggshells. His temper flared at the slightest thing – talking about college, for instance. Or anything, really – even down to the milk he put on his morning cereal.
None of my siblings ended up in happy marriages, either. My oldest sister married an abusive alcoholic as well, my brother ended up divorced at the ripe age of 35, and my three other sisters carried their own share of grievances – from affairs and infidelity to heartbreak in vast religious and philosophical differences.
But when my sister, my beautiful sister, sat on the floor of my college dorm room and started crying, I’ll never forget the feeling of panic that washed over me. Sobbing she cried claims of having never loved her husband, of not knowing why she married him, and feeling trapped now that they had a child together.
“I always wanted to have a way out” she said, “because Mom never left.”
And then because I didn’t know what to say – couldn’t know, really, I didn’t have the experience to give advice to a married woman – she blew her nose, wiped her tears and said “I’m fine.” and got into a cab.
Her marriage had been so much stronger than the others. Little did I know, as the youngest sibling, that they had their own share of heartache. And when I looked into her eyes, I saw such grief and disparity. It was one of many times I swore to myself I’d never get married.
She promised me that not all marriages were like that. That there were lasting, good, and strong marriages out there. But somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to believe her. How could I? There wasn’t a single one I had witnessed. “