But Sunday's installment of "Modern Love", the always-unpredictable column in the Style section of The New York Times about love in its many, many, many guises, called out what I suspect may be causing anguish for many intimate partnerships these days. Combine the times with the natural progressions of a relationship (longterm monogamy + children + mid-life crisis...) and we may have some trouble on our hands.
What's to stop us from letting the challenges - no, horrors - of losing jobs, facing loss on a material scale and often having to move into plans C, D and F from ruining our love lives as well? The "Modern Love" column, entitled "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear" is a love-affirming story about a woman's courage not to let any of these things loosen her grip on what she knew to be true, her, love.
The author, Laura Munson, gave me the words I've been looking for. Not just to deflect lash-outs from the frustration of being identity stripped 48 years in: no work, no income, no big ideas. But they're safety-net words to keep me from falling for the irrational, words which will stand in for my own defensiveness and exasperation.
The words are: "I don't buy it".
Munson writes, "You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “The End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.
My husband hadn’t yet come to this understanding with himself. He had enjoyed many years of hard work, and its rewards had supported our family of four all along. But his new endeavor hadn’t been going so well, and his ability to be the breadwinner was in rapid decline. He’d been miserable about this, felt useless, was losing himself emotionally and letting himself go physically. And now he wanted out of our marriage; to be done with our family.
But I wasn’t buying it."
Cruising is OK. I love my Husband for being able to say "it's only temporary". He's right, as hard as it is to feel unsettled and distant from one another. If you're experiencing something more angry, we all do during the darkest of these days, come back to Munson's words. It is a transcendant approach.