We had been on the road all day, and home was only an hour away. We had just completed a week-long road trip, and it had unfolded seamlessly. Our week had been filled with no car trouble, beautiful sites, and pleasant conversation. And then out of the cloudless sky, lightning struck.
“When we get home, let’s turn the office into a bedroom for you.” I received my husband’s words with a great deal of confusion. What on earth was that? So I asked, “What does THAT mean?”
Very coolly, he gave an explanation. As he continued to drive, eyes straight ahead, he told me that he no longer wanted to sleep in the same room with me, and, if he could have his way, he wouldn’t live with me at all.
I was in a state of shock—absolute shock. What alien had just possessed my husband’s body? I thought we were happy, stable, and incredibly in love. What in the world had I missed?
I was too stunned to cry. I, too, stared straight ahead. After minutes of silence, I asked what had happened to make him feel this way about me. I had lived a faithful and dedicated married life to him. I loved him more than life itself. I thought he felt that way too.
My mind reeled with the painful realization that he wanted to get away from me. This was a hard pill to swallow, especially as I thought about the sex he initiated the night before. Suddenly I didn’t want to feel him touch me again.
When I went to the couch that night, I decided that I would never desire my husband again. He had hurt me beyond repair. How could it ever be all right again? I soaked my pillow in tears thinking about all the love I had poured into our marriage, and now none of it mattered.
I don’t ever want to relive the feelings of that first night on the couch. But I do remember that before I closed my eyes in sleep, I repeated a phrase over and over again: For better or for worse.
The next night, I did a lot of soul-searching. I tried to put myself in his shoes. I tried to imagine how he felt. It actually helped. Though I was still angry with him, I could see where he was coming from.
My outlook the next morning surprised me. Our wedding vows were in the forefront of my mind. I was determined that only death would part us. I would do whatever it took to get my husband back, not because I was desperate but because I loved him. And I knew he took his vows just as seriously as me. I knew he loved me.
That night, sometime around midnight, my sleep on the couch was interrupted. My husband put his arms around me and said something I have only heard him say one other time in our life together—I’m sorry.
For about ten seconds I didn’t move. Part of me wanted to reject him, to get back at him because he hurt me so deeply. My mind was telling my body to remain stiff, detached. But my heart said to embrace him. I chose the latter. He picked me up and carried me to our bed.
The next days were spent repairing the damage. He and I both had things to be sorry about. We had let our emotions control us. We had done and said things that we didn’t really mean. Those things could not be undone or unsaid. But wishing we could take them back was an important first step towards healing. Rebuilding our relationship was possible because we both wanted to be better for each other.
It hurts to think that we went through such a dark time. At the same time, that dark period shed a light on our relationship. We were forced to perform a high-scale inspection of this structure called marriage. It forced us to rip out the bad wiring, clean the mold, and repair the rotted wood. Without the uncomfortable invasion of that inspection, our structure might have crumbled. But now, knowing what we found and taking the steps to fix it, we are stronger than we were before. We are now maintaining our marriage with greater care.
Mutual forgiveness, which comes from love, made it possible for us to go on in life, loving each other more than before, desiring each other more than before, and knowing each other better than before. Just like a nightmare, you might remember how horrible such a time was, but you know it’s a new day in the morning.