My mom has been trying to get me to listen to relationship and/or marriage programs that are aired on the local Christian radio station. I think she does it because she wants me to see that this divorce wasn’t my fault – I did everything right. But when one person doesn’t value the vows they’ve made, there’s not much one person can do. Marriage is a two-person job.
She means well, but I refuse to turn these programs on. At first I would listen a little, but it always made me homicidal. Don’t get me wrong – there were great stories and funny anecdotes and helpful advice. It wasn’t the programs that bothered me. It was listening to people – even “professionals” talk about how to maintain a happy, healthy marriage that really got to me, because everything these people were saying were things we did… and STILL, my marriage fell apart.
We prayed together. We read the Bible together. We read marriage books and went to church and shared our thoughts and concerns with each other. We voiced our frustrations and fears with one another. We comforted one another. We laughed together and tried not to sweat the small stuff. We shared our hopes and dreams with one another. We made plans and worked hard together and knew we’d stick it out through thick and thin and always be there for one another. Divorce wasn’t a viable option. It wasn’t even on the table. Sure, we’d occasionally fight like rabid wolverines and say some stupid, hurtful things, but we never seriously thought about the big “D”.
Or at least… I didn’t.
It got me thinking… How much of my marriage was faked? As I looked at all the things we did right, it occurred to me… I was doing these things and taking them seriously and truly invested in our marriage, but… was he? I can’t answer that question. Only he can. Was I naive enough to think that just because we were doing these things we both meant them? Just because I meant them didn’t mean he did. Why had I never considered that before?
I suppose I never had any reason to question his sincerity or honesty when it came to our marriage. I never realized he may have been going through the motions, putting on a good front, pretending, lying… faking. Because if he was (and he had to have been… why else would he pull up stakes and run?), he was brilliant at it. He had the right words, the right responses. He knew exactly what to do and how to do it. He was passionate and emotional and caring and considerate and Godly at all the right times and in all the right places. But… had he meant any of it?
8 years together. 6 years of marriage. And I’m sitting here wondering if he had meant anything that came out of his mouth. Which portions of my relationship were fact and which portions were fiction? Trying to figure that out would be a lesson in futility to be sure, but I can’t help but wonder. At what point (and there had to have been a point when this decision was made) did he decide to just fake it? Because up until that phone call this June, I believed everything that came out of his mouth. Did the faking start when she re-entered the picture? Did the faking start before then? Did it go as far back as our engagement, when we were dating? But why fake it then? There’s no need to fake things that early on… if you don’t like what you see, just cut ties and run. Nothing is holding you there. And yet, I wonder… was any of it real? Or did the faking begin because he had convinced himself he could do better, that I wasn’t good enough, that I had never been good enough and that it was time to end the charade?
This summer when I was removing my belongings from our place, I agreed to meet him briefly at his request. He asked me if I had ever heard the phrase “Fake it ’til you make it.”? (Just the fact that he asked me this question made me want to punch him in the face. Who HASN’T heard of this phrase? But this was yet another prime example of how he treated me like a dumb little kid half the time.) He told me he thought that’s what he had been doing during our marriage. Faking it, hoping he would learn to love me if he went through the motions. But then, why pursue me? Why go to the ends of the earth to catch me? Why put all that time, money and effort into wooing me? Why marry me? I mean… why do any of it? You don’t like someone you just… don’t. Why commit to something that serious if you don’t really want to? And why, when I had tried to break it off with him early in our relationship because I wasn’t sure of my feelings, did he resort to crying and begging me not to leave. I mean… why?!
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I didn’t have my own doubts about marrying the guy. There were plenty of times before and during the marriage when I wondered if I had made a mistake. When I had to learn to love him. When I had to put forth the effort to love him even when I didn’t want to. But sometimes that’s what marriage is, and putting forth the effort and sticking to my vows just established and solidified my love for him. Even when I was afraid I had made a mistake, I had entered a contract before God. I made my decision, I had to live with it. You don’t just get a “do-over”. Or maybe you do. Looks like he did anyway…
I just… I don’t know. Maybe none of this is making sense. Maybe I’m just going around in circles (I’m fairly certain I am…), but I just want to know when the faking started and why? (I know a lot of what I’m saying is probably baffling as it seems to fly in the face of an earlier post where I stated I had never loved him. I loved him. But it was something I learned. It didn’t happen entirely naturally. And I did love him when I married him, I just didn’t fall in love like I expected to. And okay, maybe I was blinded by the intense amount of wooing and affection going on… But I did love him. I’m horrible at acting. I was not faking it. Just to be clear.) I don’t know how he could have faked the tenderness, the compassion, the love. Maybe he did. Who knows? Or maybe convincing himself of that just helps him sleep better at night.
I will probably never get an answer to all these questions. But maybe just being brave enough to face them is a step in the right direction.