Sarah spoke quickly about the man she’d been married to for almost 20 years. “I’m done. I just don’t love him anymore … and if I’m honest, I don’t think I ever loved him …”
I was stunned. Shocked. Bewildered. Confused. When did this happen? How did this happen? Sarah always looked so happy when she was with her husband; smiling and laughing at the mall, at dinner, at concerts in the park, at church. What was going on?
So much was going through my brain at once I was completely incapable of forming words. Which may explain why Sarah took one look at my paralyzed face and sighed, “Ugh. No one gets me. How can you? You don’t live my life!”
She was right. I didn’t live her life, but Sarah and I were the best of friends. Complaining about our husbands was our favorite giggle pastime. Or so I thought? I had no idea her complaints were something to address concern.
Sure, we all can agree that the grab-him-and-throw-him-on-the-floor feeling comes and goes. But with three teenagers, a golden retriever, bunny and decades of ups and downs with one person, the investment grows too large. Why would anyone just quit instead of trying to figure out what was really the problem?
Sarah tried to explain, “See, when I got married, I knew my husband was going to be a huge success with his career. That’s why I married him. Then when he kept changing jobs, and never really focused on anything … we struggled and struggled, and well, I just lost respect for him.”
Now I was really confused. Struggle? How did she struggle? Sarah lived in a nice neighborhood, drove a nice car and had three kids that never wanted for anything … where was the struggle? For a moment I felt sad for her husband. I pictured her kind, sweet husband working endless hours, doing whatever he could to make her happy and gain her approval. And perhaps the approval never came? He was never able to live up to her expectations?
Of course Sarah had every right to feel this way about her husband and her life. Who was I to judge her?
So I asked, “Who cares about a career and job? Those can be replaced. You married him for him. And I was there when you said the words, ‘for better or worse, richer or poorer …’ He adores you. Why not support him and encourage him? It may turn things around if you find a way to appreciate him and love and accept him for what he does and who he is?”
Sarah laughed, “You don’t get it, Laurie! I’m not a Tee-Pee girl. You are a Tee-Pee girl. I am not.”
“What’s a Tee-Pee girl?”
“A Tee-Pee girl doesn’t care where she lives or what her husband does. She loves her husband unconditionally and will love him and live with him anywhere. Even in a teeny, tiny, ugly Tee-Pee!” she said.
I laughed, “Well? Isn’t that why we get married? To take the risk and be with our one love forever, no matter what, through thick and thin? Even if you end up in a Tee-Pee, as long as you are together working toward the same goal for your family?”
Sarah shrugged, “Well, not me. I don’t think I married for love, I married my husband for security. Because I was sure he’d build a safe home for me and our kids …. and well … it just didn’t work out that way.”
My heart sunk. Marriage was love. Unconditional love. A lifelong journey with fun teammate. You go in together. Win or loose, you stick with it. You choose to do life together. It’s so easy to stay close during times of joy and laughter, it’s the times of hardship where we can’t quit. We must turn to God for help and direction and just hang on. I prayed Sarah would see that.
It’s been over a year since my Tee-Pee conversation with Sarah. And sadly, Sarah and her husband are now divorced, sharing custody of their three kids.
Is Sarah happier? She says she’s about the same. But laughs when she tells me that her ex-husband is now making more money than he ever has in his entire career.
There was a long pause. Till Sarah said quietly, “Maybe I could have been more supportive?”
I was silent as I reached to embrace my friend as she began to cry.
Every day we wake up and make a decision to love our spouse. Being a Tee-Pee girl is also a choice. What do you choose?
Copyright 2017 Laurie McDermott
About the author: Los Angeles award-winning writer, Laurie McDermott, is a Catholic mom of three. Laurie is also an accredited Marriage Coach and believes it only takes one person to save a marriage. God brings two people together … not apart. To work with Laurie, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.