Clumsy and Messy
Clumsy and Messy
Before my affair, we had a taste of true intimacy. While Ben was away several months for Army Reserve Basic Training we grew close through letters. Ben shared his inner world with me. I was able to receive that intimacy but was only minimally able to return it leading to an inability to sustain emotional intimacy upon his return.
In addition to not handling conflict well, we reverted to an old pattern of relying primarily on sexual intimacy. We still didn’t know how to talk through tense situations, so we'd have make-up sex and move on without dealing with the issue. Never a good idea.
In order to break those old patterns, we looked at our story - all the way back to the beginning. Why go so far back, you say? Because it all matters. It’s all important. Think of how the Bible starts. What are the first words on that first page? “In the beginning…” God doesn’t start His story with Jesus and the glorious redemption of the cross. He starts with “In the beginning” and walks us through the mess of a story called the Old Testament before we get to the Grace of the New.
Our story didn’t just start the day my affair was revealed, and it also didn't just start on our wedding day. Ben says he knows I was messed up when we started dating because I was dating him. We now know we were both a mess. The early years of our relationship and marriage were hard. Friends asked why I didn’t divorce Ben. He drank a lot and didn't keep a steady job. I like to think Grace was at work even though we didn’t know it at the time. Even so, we merely existed in the same house.
Post affair I told Ben how hard the early years were for me. I first had to admit to myself that I didn’t feel cherished, that I felt used, that I resented the alcohol, that I felt more like his mom than his wife. Then came the hard part; speaking those words to him which took a lot of courage on both our parts, but he was able to hear my pain and own the ways he had hurt me from the beginning. On a broad scale, much broader than just the affair, we learned to own our pain and to give and receive grace.
One aspect of giving grace was learning to laugh at our idiosyncrasies. I can be clumsy. I break glasses and plates like a Russian who’s had too much vodka. Only not on purpose. And without the vodka. Really. And Ben’s dresser top and office desk often look like he just dumped a couple drawers on them. Yet, he still manages to find what he's looking for.
These quirks, and many others, used to cause great discord between us. We each wanted the other to be perfect and in many ways to be God. If that were possible, we would have had the ability to take away our insecurities, fears, shame and so much more. That was pressure placed on our relationship that neither of us could live up to. Neither one of us could touch the core of the other’s soul that only God can touch to soothe it into safe, secure Love. Now, instead of demanding God-like perfection we accept and enjoy the peculiar parts of who we are. They make us unique, flawed and imperfect. Who wants to be perfect anyway?
What wounds remain unspoken and unheard from your early years? What idiosyncrasies drive you crazy and endear your spouse to you?