We are in a restaurant discussing the fate of our marriage. The cards are on the table and the chips fall as they may. We spend the next hour talking about finances, what our lives would look like sans one another, and what this rupture would do to our innocent children.
He says: ” If we were to stay together there would be a lot of changes and I am not sure you would like them.”
“What changes might those be?” I ask.
“Well, I’ve never told you this before but I am pro-life like they house I was raised in. I might want ours to be a pro-life household too. I would want our children to be raised this way.”
Whiplash has slapped me hard because I have shaken my head so violently trying to make this man come into focus again. You mean after 30 years of togetherness you felt like you couldn’t say something about this? WTH.
“And I want to be treated like the man of the house.”
Somewhere I hear the words obey mentioned.
I stare at this man I’ve saved and who has saved me numerous times over the past 30 years. He looks the same on the outside but obviously there is a lot changing on the inside. I’m not sure I like it. Actually, as a feminist I know I dislike it…a lot.
“What does this mean to you? Man of the house?” I ask… while I am thinking to myself…so you are finding your voice and now you want to roar. Roar out all the misunderstandings. Roar out all your “unheard” convictions. Roar out life as you imagine it should be while you figure out who you want to be. You want to be heard after feeling unheard all of your life. A hurt that started with your mother and one that you feel continued on with me.
My eyes stare back, unblinking, both locked into a battle of silent conviction.
“At the end of the day I want to know that my word is the final word.”
And in the end the only thing I can say is nothing. Because talking to this man before me is like talking to a stranger who speaks a different language, has different values, and wants different things than I do. Things I never knew about. Things I never guessed. They are not the things that delight me. They are sharp and they sting the inside of my heart and of my head.
So I look down at my feet and stare at my crooked big toe observing how it leans to the left, as does my philosophy, and the tears start to glide silently down my face as my awareness of how deep this situation dwells in a land of which I know not; and it seeps from the very center of my pores.