I’m married to her. Have been for quite some time now. We’ve been through the wars. Hell, I put us through the wars. (Though sometimes I wonder if this is the right construction, if it’s ever right in the context of a marriage to blame one person for anything – I have a friend who told me, “In all marriages, all pathology is distributed equally among the partners, by definition.” And this certainly has been borne out in my observations of other couples…. Though I recognize that, by all outward measures, it would seem self-serving for me to apply this dictum to my marriage. And it’s impossible to operationalize in the context of bad behavior by one member of a couple. None of which is, in any way, to deny the undeniable truth that I put us through the wars.)
T was amazing when I met her, and has been amazing throughout our relationship. Today, we are stronger than we’ve ever been, and this is, in large part, because of her openness, kindness, generosity, devotion, intelligence, and basic goodness. She may well be the most good person I’ve ever known. And she has a lot of other really spectacular traits – both physical and otherwise.
People who read this blog often say she’s amazing, knowing little about her other than that she’s stuck with me through all my shit, meaning that she’s amazing for sticking with me through all my shit.
This always pisses me off.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m enormously grateful that she’s stayed with me. I hate to imagine what my life would look like without her, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel gratitude for her and, not least, for her (daily) decision to stay with me. But I don’t think that a decision that she made, that she makes every day, is evidence of her being amazing. This construction suggests that a) I’m somehow really challenging and difficult, and b) she’s a martyr.
There have been days I believed either or both of these things. Certainly I am really challenging and difficult. But am I more challenging/difficult than other people? I’m not so convinced. I think we all are challenging and difficult, and I’m not sure that there’s a percentage in declaring one or another of us more challenging or difficult than another. Surely, I’m challenging and difficult in highly particular – and perhaps unusual – ways. But am I more challenging and difficult than, say, the “average” guy? Whatever that is? I’m not so sure.
And is she, really, a martyr? Well, the concept of martyrdom implies a whole lot that I’m not sure is right. That I’m not sure I’d want to be married to.
My wife isn’t married to me as a favor to me. She doesn’t (I hope) stick with me because she has some sort of affection for pain. My wife stays with me because she loves me. She stays with me for the same reason I stay with her: because we have a complicated, challenging, wonderful life together, one that is far better together than either of us can imagine without the other.
So yes, my wife is amazing. But she’s not amazing because she tolerates me.
I wonder if you’re being a little harsh on commenters with this post? I imagine that they are reacting not just to the story of a woman who stayed with her husband despite sex addiction, but also your many remarks about T’s understanding, patience, and openness to working things through. That is a story of strength that you tell, and is very different to a story of someone who stayed but bitterly because of, say, a trust fund, or an idea of divorce as too sinful/shameful/whatever. Which might indeed be martyr-ish (esque?).
And even if you hadn’t provided as much background as you have, I think our cultural and social training sets us up far better to respond to some challenges than others. I am sure plenty of people stay with partners who are challenging because of stuff like mild but personality-changing alcoholism. Or that are really, deep down, wedded to their work not their families. These could be similar (or bigger!) emotional challenges compared to unconventional sex activity, but we’re better equipped by social supports and our culture to deal with them. Oh, and they don’t come with the same risk ‘public shame’ if you should be found out.
I hope that you feel like you can accept a few more of those off-the-cuff compliments as just that. 🙂
Two things. Yes, your wife is amazing. And so are you 🙂
And the other one… I never got to comment on it, but I preferred the old colours. But that’s just me I guess 😉
I preferred them too….
And thank you!