I remember the early pain of my marriage. It was misery, trying to understand and relate to someone who seemed alien and unreasonable. How can love lurch so unerringly and deeply into pain? How can I descend so quickly to attitudes and behaviours which I despise?
I learned I was not alone in this. My partner's anguish was clear enough, but I met other men who betrayed the same pain. Some were reticent, others openly bitter: "Saturday is 'Keep wifey happy day.'" The words reveal enough, but the bitterness with which this was said to me, was an order of magnitude greater.
Twenty years on some of us live in a more harmonious relationship. Other partnerships have not made the distance, and still others live, I suspect, in a quiet defeat or despair. In those early days a friend said to me, "After twenty years there are still days when I don't understand Allie in the least bit!" I know now what he meant. Living with a wonderful woman, there are still times when I am just as lost as in the beginning and the pain is as acute as ever.
How are we to live with this strange person we love and yet from whom we can feel so distant? I have chosen 3 areas to investigate.
April 5 1999
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