Published December 03, 2007 by
In ten days my parents will be celebrating their forty-second anniversary. Will my son, who sleeps peacefully in his crib in the next room, be able to announce with pride in the year 2020 that his parents are about to celebrate their forty-second anniversary?
Tears are rolling down my face, wetting the keyboard, when I think of the answer. I hope they create a power shortage in the computer so I won't have to keep thinking. Neither a blackout nor an earthquake would be able to ease the pain and frustration I feel. They might postpone the ongoing crisis but I would still wake up the next morning to familiar scenery.
If I could paint a marriage, what color would I use?
What images would I create? Probably I would scout some museums and borrow the images of history - di Cosimo, The Discovery of Honey, Munch, The Scream, Cezanne, House in Provence, Hogarth, The Graham Children, The dream picture I see for my marriage is Picasso's Peace.
Whoops, I must stop! The baby has just awakened, crying.
I'm back after comforting and hugging him. I restored his need for security and he dove back into the world of dreams. Marriage doesn't bring this original unconditional love most of us get from our parents. Who cuddles me when I have a bubble in my tummy?
Being married to a doctor makes it even worse you're the last patient on the list. Joe was conditioned to become a physician, to fulfill family expectations. He had to save the people his parents lost. My "outlaws" were so busy trying to reach their goals, they forgot there was a child in need of love, fun, games. If you never received love, how can you give it?
I don't trust Joe to be alone with Dan. He's irresponsible. He doesn't read about or understand child development. He thinks after he permits, and he erased the word "no" from his vocabulary. A child needs boundaries; he teaches none. Also, when he's paged, the call becomes his focal point. He becomes deaf and mute to his immediate surroundings, including the baby.
Otherwise he's a sweet, loving father who bonded nicely with his son. Dan adores his father, but I don't think he misses him even though they see each other very little. I made it a ritual for them to spend time together in the morning. No matter what time Dan wakes up, I change him in our bed and go down to warm up his formula. Then Joe gets up to feed and be with him until he leaves for work.
On many levels my husband wants to learn, but the fear of the unknown is bigger than the ease of learning. When our son was born and through the first six months of his life, my husband couldn't tell him he loved him. "He knows I love him," he kept answering me. As the baby progressed in his milestones, so did my husband. By the time our son had crawled, the words "Daddy loves Dan" echoed through the house.
Guess what, my dear husband just called, announcing over the cellular phone that he'll be home way past midnight. He wanted to know if our one-year-old pulled any new tricks today. I gladly volunteered one. "He walked by your picture and stuck his tongue out." Do I sound hurt, angry, humorous, or simply stupid? Yes, all of the above.
I must say, Joe's a good and generous man. He's hardworking and has a great deal of responsibility. But marriage is also a job with responsibility. A marriage is never a fifty-fifty deal. There are times when one spouse gives forty and the other sixty. There are other times when it's eighty-twenty. Like nature, we all go through cycles and seasonal changes. The leaf must fall off for the tree to rejuvenate and the soil to be fertilized.
We, earth's most civilized and advanced creation, marry, and I don't understand why. Are we the most civilized? Many years ago I came across Nahaman Bialik's vivid ballad "The Wolf," about the Holocaust. Even the wolf was horrified, astonished, and ashamed of the most systematic slaughter and vicious man-made atrocity. Am I comparing marriage to a holocaust?
Should divorced individuals be called marriage survivors or should married people be called married survivors?
By looking back at my previous paragraphs, I think my unconscious unraveled the cause of my disharmonious relationship. My dear husband is the eldest son of Holocaust survivors. They taught him to use various distancing devices, false analogies. He believes in the most primitive psychological form of defense, which is denial. He's passive and waits in the hope that he won't have to come to terms with reality.
I'm a second-generation Israeli who was raised as free as a bird with no fear of concentration camps or annihilation. I believe in prevention. I'm an air force brat and learned to gather intelligence, analyze findings, recognize facts, make assessments, and interpret their implications. I gained mastery by safeguarding against real danger.
How can our marriage survive the continuous battle of his destructive drive and my life drive? How many more anniversaries will be celebrate?
Most essential of all, with a great deal of love and planning, our marriage produced a healthy seven-pound-five-ounce baby, whom I dearly love.