After seeing Elizabeth Edwards on TODAY talking about the affair of her husband, former Senator John Edwards, I was both saddened and angry. Mrs. Edwards called the other woman "pathetic" and suggests that she seduced her husband with lines like "You are so hot." I feel sorry that Elizabeth Edwards has had to go through her private pain in the public eye, all while she is battling breast cancer and taking care of her young children. But I must say, hearing her blame the mistress is infuriating, and by making such comments she is making herself the one who looks pathetic.
The one responsible for this affair is John Edwards. The concept of "seduction" should be left to screenwriters and romance novelists. It has no place in a real life discussion of adult behavior. And do you really want to say he fell for being called "hot". If that's what it took to tempt a married man launching a presidential campaign then he was on the verge of it anyway. If it was not this so-called pathetic woman it would have been the next one.
If that wasn't enough to get me worked up (and it was), when asked about the speculation that John Edwards fathered a child with the mistress, Elizabeth Edwards said she had "no idea" about the child's paternity. Maybe I need to wait to hear the rest of the interview on Oprah on May 7th, but isn't this a piece of information you would be a little bit more eager to have?
I understand that marriages are very complex, especially those like the Edwards that carry the burdens of losing a child and an illness such as cancer. We do not know what has happened in their relationship to bring them to this point. I just hate to see a woman who has demonstrated courage and grace in the face of so much adversity compromise herself by suggesting that the responsibility lies anywhere other than with her husband.
I'm sitting here with my computer trying to come up with something thought provoking, but I just can't concentrate. We're at the 3:11 mark in game 2 of the Bulls-Celtics series. It's playoff time and my husband and I are sitting together watching the game. Damn! The Bulls just lost. Okay, before this starts to sound like a sports blog, let me bring it back to marriage.
I wouldn't say my husband and I are fanatics, but we have always enjoyed watching sports together. I remember talking about sports on our first date and he made a joke that I had just met one of his criteria. Our second date was at a sports bar. I'm pretty sure that was my suggestion. Since then we've logged many hours watching basketball (and football, baseball, tennis, etc.) But we don't just watch the games, we give commentary. Sometimes I'll bring up something I saw on ESPN (I love Pardon the Interruption) or he mentions an article he read in Sports Illustrated. Mostly it's just stuff we think of in the moment, "The refs are calling this one tight." or "He's a streaky shooter." If you watched a game with us it might get a little annoying, but for us it's part of the fun.
I think couples need these kinds of experiences. Simple moments that connect you. Maybe these small things are what help keep us together when big things like kids and money can pull us apart. Of course I can't credit basketball for the happiness in my marriage. But, when we're watching a game and saying the Bulls need to start rebounding, I can look over at him and be reminded that we really are good together. And let's face it, sometimes we need that reminder. So, bring on game 3 and I will have a little of my own love and basketball.
I'm starting to feel like myself again. Last week I was experiencing a sense of instability, like the ground beneath me wasn't firm. As I moved beyond the feeling, I realized there were 3 distinct reasons I had become so anxious. First there was The New York Times article I read by Layng Martine Jr. In it he described the way life has been dramatically changed by the crippling car accident his wife suffered on the way to their summer home. Ultimately the story is beautiful and triumphant, but after reading it I sat frozen thinking about how life can be changed in an instant. Then came the sudden death of actress Natasha Richardson due to a skiing accident. I didn't know her, nor am I very familiar with her career. What I do know is that she was a wife and mother, and now her husband, Liam Neeson must deal with his shock and grief while being strong for his children. Falling apart is not an option for a parent.
I probably could have navigated my way through that emotional minefield because again, I don't know any of those people. I am often troubled by tragic events in the lives of strangers, but I have learned to hope for the best for the families affected and then move on. But, when one of our friends was suddenly hospitalized and later scheduled for surgery, anxiety washed over me. The guy is my husband's age and in the same profession. His wife works part-time from home, but like me, she primarily takes care of their two young children. I worried about him and for her. I also worried for myself, because more than the couple from The New York Times article or famous actors, I look at this family and I see my own.
The morning of the surgery I took the family some food my husband and I made. It was the only way we could think to help. Then I went on with my day. And I waited. I waited to hear that their family would be okay, and then maybe I could believe mine would be okay too. As the day progressed and there was no news I feared something had gone terribly wrong. Late that night I was relieved to learn the surgery had gone well and our friend was settled back in his room.
All of these experiences have highlighted the fragility of the life I have built with my husband. I am reminded of the scene from the movie Jerry Maguire when Marcee (the wife of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character, Rod) is talking to Jerry after Rod is injured on the football field. She says, "My whole life is this family, and it does not work without him." (Forget "You complete me." THAT is the most romantic line in the movie.) Those words describe exactly how I feel. But despite these worries I know I can't white knuckle my way through life. I want my family to drive to our summer house, and to ski, and to live. So here I am trying to shed the fear and trust that the ground beneath me will hold as I take steps forward.
In my post entitled "An Unexpected Blogger" I made reference to a "friend from high school". He and I were at a party together where a discussion started about relationships and marriage. In response to our single friend who is in a committed relationship and contemplating his next step, my high school friend uttered the words that have stayed with me ever since: "Marriage is easy." I have heard people say many different things about marriage but NEVER that. After he made the comment, the conversation shifted and I never got a chance to ask him what he meant.
Months went by, but those words were stuck in my head. Did he know something that I (and pretty much everyone else I know) didn't? By the way, I know his wife. In fact, I've known her longer than I've known him, and she is no pushover. So I knew that wasn't the explanation. When I started Marital Musings I knew I had to at least ask him to share his opinions with not just me, but with all of us. I wasn't sure that he would. Then I went on my blog and found that he had posted a comment. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
"Yes, the friend who said marriage was easy is still married and in year 13. I guess I need to qualify, huh. I am at a very comfortable point in my life and marriage that allows me to make the comments that I made. Trust me, we have been through MANY bumps in the road. But wifey and I have arrived at a point where there is ultimate trust, comfort, support, and a very satisfying love for one another.
Our schedules are extremely hectic due to our kids, work, our time, and our individual hobbies (that I highly recommend). I am not ashamed to say we are comfortable and happy with that. We do not take one another for granted, for that has happened in the past and it aint fun. I guess you can say we have had our major issues and we have gotten stronger because of them.
Certainly, I likely over-simplified my "marriage is easy" comment. Of course it is never EASY, however the fact of the matter is we are at point where it is NOT work. I will never say that things could not go wrong or we could not move out of our comfort zone……nothing is guaranteed. But after 12+ years of marriage, seeing many of our peers miserable, seeing many of our relatives (parents on my side) go through multiple divorces, and reading everyday about the increasing divorce rate throughout the world; we have just made many confirmations that we married the person we were meant to marry. We are great friends which allows us to be great spouses and parents. Neither one of us is perfect, but I think we are perfect enough for each other."
Last night my husband and I were in the bathroom getting ready for bed (remember, the couple that flosses together stays together). I said to him "You'll never guess who I am thinking about asking to write a post on my blog." I didn’t mean for him to actually guess. I just said that the way you do when you want to build up a little anticipation. The other person is supposed to say “Who?” and then you move on with the story. Instead of following the protocol, my husband decided to venture a guess and said, “Me.”
Actually I was thinking about a friend from high school I ran into at a party. He made a comment that “marriage is easy” and I definitely want to hear more about that. But, I understand my husband’s reasoning. If your spouse is writing a blog about marriage and wants a guest contributor, it makes sense that it might be you. I must admit, however, I had not even considered him. It’s not that I wouldn’t want him to write on the blog, it just never crossed my mind to ask. Even if I had thought to ask, I wouldn’t have because I know he wouldn’t do it. This was all running through my head when I realized his “Me” was still floating out there. So I decided it would be interesting to hear all the reasons why he wouldn’t do it and I said, “Would you?” Then the truly unexpected happened when he said, “Yes.”
Well, if I’m being completely accurate it wasn’t an emphatic yes. It was more qualified. He said he would think about doing it further down the line. I was so surprised he didn’t say no that I didn’t even ask why he needed more time. What is he waiting for? Is it that he wants to make sure he has something compelling to say? Does he already have something important to say but he wants to wait until I have more readers? Can it be that my husband is secretly a diva who will wait until he deems Marital Musings worthy of HIS musings?
Clearly, I still have a lot of questions for him, but the biggest question I have is for me: why hadn’t it even occurred to me that he might do this? I guess because after 9 years together I thought I could predict how he was going to respond. This experience has reminded me to stop predicting so much and start asking a little more. I often think about the ways I am changing as I get older, but he is also a work in progress and probably has many more surprises in store for me.