Death of the Fantasy

June 2, 2001

June 2, 2001

Early this morning my husband thanked me for loving him. I can't even help it, I said and then wondered if that was true. I have loved him in so many different ways over so many different phases. Our marriage turned 18 years old on Sunday. We truly have grown up together. We were babies marrying babies: 25 and 29.

Do you think it will last? my stepmother asked my mother on our wedding day, who rightly said, we'll see.

Miraculously it has. It’s a miracle because we have gone through so much together. Addiction, depression, anxiety, pregnancy loss, job loss, unemployment, self-employment, chore wars, his shutting down, my online affair, marriage counseling, separate beds, tentative reunions. At one point we didn’t get divorced just because we didn’t have enough money. Somehow the duct tape and glue of our love was tough enough to keep us together at the seams until we could heal from the heart. Even though we've been animals and monsters and vampires and zombies to each other, today I can honestly say I want to stay married to this man until death do us part.

And that is, in part, because the fantasy of the marriage died first. The fantasy where we are always steeped in the oxytocin of new love, the hope that either of us will ever change to please the other in any way whatsoever, the expectation to save or to be saved. The idea that one person can fulfill even half the needs of the other, the toxic demands of codependency. Fill me up. Save me. Change me. Change for me. Extinguishing the thought that simply being married will take the place of the tough, knotty inner work required to grow up and find a happiness of one’s own.

The death of my marriage fantasy has been long and slow but it’s a death I can celebrate. It’s a funeral I happily attend. It’s a grave I dance on. The death of the fantasy has given birth to marriage that has a chance to live.