Sometimes I’d sit down with my first husband of 18 years and say, “Look at what we could have!” It was never material possessions, or a bigger house, or anything like that. It was a dream of happiness, of wholeness, of contentment, of experiencing a sense of accomplishment. He was always fine with everything just the way it was. And, frankly, I couldn’t identify with that, because to me, we were missing out on the most life had to offer.
At almost every phase of our life together I had this deep-seated need and desire for MORE. I was never satisfied to the point of contentment. There was this angst within me that was annoying, like the tag on the back of a shirt. It’s always there and sometimes, if you pay too much attention, it is maddening. So most of the time, I ignored it and tried to see the good.
I thought something was wrong with me. I thought I was clinically depressed. I thought I was so hyper critical that in my analysis, I could only see what was missing.
I had a vision. For a better life. More, more, more. Whatever was missing caused me to become unhappy. Not the kind of unhappy where I stomp my feet and complain. This unhappiness ran through my core and effected how I saw almost everything. It was my filter. And it was blue.
It didn’t start out that way. I recently read a letter that I wrote my first husband. It was written a few months after we were married. It was full of hope, full of dreams. But I learned something about my first husband. He was a guy who saw obstacles and was stopped by them. I was a girl who saw obstacles and was challenged to surmount them. An obstacle ignited my competitive spirit and this lust for life and all it offered. So I would rev us up and become the cheerleader. WE CAN DO THIS! YES!!! But often times my rallying urged into motion someone who didn’t share my vision. He went along with the plan because I had such an indomitable spirit. He grew weary. He started to hold grudges. Pretty soon my cheers fell on deaf ears and life settled into a quiet, easy world of window shopping and home improvement projects. No big vacations. No ambitious charity ventures or missions trips. Just safe choices.
Boring. I was bored. I didn’t know it, but I was. My husband would always say, “Why can’t you just be satisfied?” I didn’t know why. I didn’t know the answer to that question.
I did my thing. I traveled the world with my job. I took on responsibilities that stretched me to my limits intellectually, physically, emotionally. But it was without him. I kept chasing the zest of life. I wanted my life to count for something bigger than this quiet world we had created. I wanted God to say to me, “well done good and faithful servant.” I didn’t want to be as the servant who earned no minas in the parable Jesus told in Luke 19:11-27 . I wanted to earn a million! For almost ten years. I concentrated on raising two children and my job. I barely noticed my husband who quietly sat on the sidelines of my life and watched. Always encouraging, always supportive.
You could criticize my choices at this point and say I should have seen the rift I was creating. But hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t realize it at the time because I would ask him if it was ok, and he would say yes every time. In looking back, I do see the lesson here is about matching up with the right kind of person for you in the beginning. KNOWING this person you marry and what drives them is critical to future happiness. LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH. IT JUST ISN’T. I loved my husband very much. But we were not a good match.
It led to a very unsatisfying life for me in many areas. Not just ambition. Sexually, socially, physically, intellectually, in my soul…I wanted vibrant, spontaneous, genuine expression. He liked routine, repetition and everything tied up in a neat package. He wasn’t WRONG…but we were just SO different it made things very difficult.
I believe in marriage. I believe we could have made it. But we had a hard road to hoe. It could’ve been done but he checked out. He told me he was too tired, and gave up.
Now, my life is not a neat package. It’s a bit messy at the moment. It could be described as organized chaos. Now, the man I am married to, my Harry, is sort of the polar opposite to my first husband and instead of me pushing him…I see myself pulling back a little. Because if you recall, I see obstacles and am challenged to surmount them. My new husband…well let’s just say, he likes to deny the obstacles are even there. He just sees victory. Now, instead of sitting my husband down and cheering him on about what we could have…I’m saying….OK BUT….if we are going to “get there” we need to overcome this and that and the other thing. He pats me on the head and tells me that we will get there, no worries. WHAT A DIFFERENCE.
We have a home we are paying for in Long Beach. We have the home I own that we just listed on the market. We took two vacations this month (work related but still…) I am due to have major surgery in less than two weeks. We have to move 15 years of stuff out of my house. The open house is this weekend. He has 4 companies that want to go live with his accounting software this month (he is a one man show and this is a huge task). Its the busiest time of year for my work (as it was when we were planning our wedding last year at this time!….why do we pick fall/winter to do all our big stuff?) We’ve had to accomplish major home repairs in a short amount of time. We had to replace all four tires after a blow out on the highway while moving boxes. It just goes on and on and on.
The four companies that want to go live is a HUGE blessing and an answer to prayer financially speaking. These are companies that for years sat dormant. All of a sudden when we need the extra money they are coming out of the woodwork, clamoring for product. If Harry can pull this off, we will be financially secure despite all this extra we’ve taken on. It’s stressful, there is pressure, but WE CAN DO THIS. It means I have to prepare the house for the most part, on my own. It means many nights apart while he toils at his computer. But, WE CAN DO THIS.
Our vision? In two months time, by Christmas, we will be settled in our new home. My health problems will be over. I will run downstairs to the gym in our building do my two-mile run and another one at sunset. He will walk to his office and end his day around three when we will walk to dinner together with our dog Lucy. We will not have to drive for any reason and embrace city life from our loft. I will cook things for him in our big kitchen. We will simplify our life. We will grow his company and my photography business. We will love our kids and love the Lord. And WE CAN DO THIS!
This time my vision is his vision. The obstacles I see, I believe can be knocked down one at a time. My husband’s confidence is infectious. And when he has weak moments of fear and frustration, I am his cheerleader.
With all that we have that is stressing me out…with the sadness I feel in leaving behind pieces of furniture that hold precious memories…with all the emotion…I can honestly say, I’m completely satisfied and happy. I feel like I’m living again. I feel like this isn’t the end. Once we accomplish this we will share a new vision for a new purpose to live a full and well-lived life. But for now, this is our focus and we are giving it ALL that we have. I HAVE HOPE.
Yes, it’s scary at times. Yes, it’s risky. It’s not safe or neat and it’s definitely not boring. And this suits me. And because it suits me, I’m sitting in that place of peace in the midst of turmoil. I’m resting in trust for the God who I know and love to see us through and give us wisdom to guide our choices. It’s not reckless. It’s us taking the minas he gave us and DOING something with them. In the end, I hope our striving today brings about huge blessing to others in the future. I pray it will enable us to be bold in giving back.
Looking back, it’s NOT that I could never be satisfied like my first husband thought. It’s just that, for me, I am satisfied in the living of life, instead of watching it pass me by.