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'Til Death Do Us Part...
One Woman's Story of Facing the Reality After Clinging to the Dream

CHAPTER 15
(Part 2 of 10)

CONVERSING AT LAST

"So, much of my thought process has been centered on the kind of relationship we can have together. I've gone back and looked at where we started. I've read and reread every letter, every poem, every promise and significant conversation we shared. And, do you know what? I really believe we began our life together on some very solid principles. Putting our love for each other as our number one priority-I still believe in that and I'm totally committed to it. God held a central place in our lives, and we knew that we had come together to share a life purpose. These are the parts of our marriage that I don't want to lose. But somewhere along the way, we lost our focus."

"That's a big problem," Mark said sternly.

"But one that, with awareness and both of us in agreement, we can regain. When I get away from the stress, it is so easy for me to see why I fell in love with you. I want to see the very core of you beyond the angry outbursts. I'm blocking out the negative aspects and focusing on what I love about you: your generous spirit and the openness you once had to make me a part of everything in your life; your humor and, uh, the way you used to love me. You see, what I've come to understand from the reading I've done is that, at first, our personalities fell in love with each other. Not so much you and me, but our most superficial parts fell in love. Then we got married and, after a while, our egos went into battle with each other. Again not the real you or the real me, but the part of each of us that needs to be right was in combat with the other. What I'm making my primary self-work is trying to get my spirit to dominate my words and my actions. That is the true reflection of me."

Mark didn't say anything. This was unusual. It may have been disinterest but I chose to believe it was out of a desire to hear more. So I continued: "You know what I've begun to realize? What I've just described is so easy for me to do when I'm teaching or coaching someone. It's second nature. In that setting, I don't have to think about it. I am just sharing from the very center of my soul without asking for anything in return. I give all that I have to give and, in the process, receive so much in return. It becomes far more difficult in my day-to-day activities when it comes to business or certain social or political scenes, but most especially when I'm interacting with you. I have a need to be right and for others to confirm that I am right. I don't like that part of myself. I have relived again and again how I wish I had handled my communication with Larry Brady. I still believe in the message I was delivering, but it would have been so much better if someone else had said it. And I wish I could have found a better way to deal with my frustration with Mike. It is so easy for me to see when I step back, like I've been doing, and really look at myself."

"That's good that you can admit that. It sounds like you are doing some really good work on yourself."

"I am." I looked away for a moment. I could feel the lump in my throat. When it subsided, I continued. "Where all this fits, as far as our relationship is concerned, is this. You gave me the most beautiful courtship any woman could hope to have. It couldn't have been more wonderful, and it was you who made it happen. I responded to you, but you took all the initiatives. Like I tried to say in the letter you inadvertently just received, the power of you and me together is that, while you create things and give them life, I am good at tenaciously nurturing and sustaining their life. So, after many miles of walking on the beach, I started asking myself why our relationship should be any different. You loved me enough to begin this marriage right. Now that I understand, I want to give this same intense energy back by paying closer attention to our love when times are tough. I don't know what form it will take-I am open about that-but I want to find a way to continue our marriage, and I'm here to find out if you do too. And if so, can we refocus ourselves on those things that really matter? It isn't the externals that I am concerned about. I want to look within so that we can both rediscover our authentic power. What changes do we want to make in our relationship? And how can we redefine it so that the needs of both of us are respected and we are again able to support each other in pursuing our personal and spiritual growth? What I'm really asking is whether we can pull ourselves back together primarily for us but also for our kids, for our parents, for the sake of those who look up to us, and for the good of our company and everyone joining us? That's where I am. I feel like I should stop there because I really want to know what you're feeling and want to hear what you have to say."

He got up and went to the bathroom, found some matches, and lit a cigarette. Daylight had come, and the lake was beautiful. So blue and clean. Finally, he sat back down and was ready to talk. "Well, I can't argue with anything you said. I mean, frankly, I'm surprised that we are as much in sync as we are, I mean about the part of marriage changing and not being able to meet all of each other's needs. I think I've gone farther in my thinking than you, but we are moving in the same general direction. What I've come to realize is that I loved the newness of our love, and it's gone. I've talked to Bandura about this. I went back and reread C.S. Lewis on the "Four Loves," and I now understand that there is no way to get that back. It's gone, and it will never be again. I don't like that. I deserve to have that. It was a big part of our life for me."

"Falling in love with you was one of the highlights for me too. But just because it changed doesn't mean it wasn't real. We weren't deluded. Maybe we just haven't evolved enough yet to know how to transform new love into the next phase. As wonderful as it was, I think it is nothing in comparison to what we could have long-term. You know, the stable, reliable kind of love that stays together by choice." Although I hadn't read Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled in years, I remember him defining love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." He then went on to explain that falling in love is not really love because it is emotional and not an act of the will. It is not an extension of one's limits because this requires effort; falling in love does not. Real love permanently expands us as persons; falling in love does not. As I recalled this, I resumed expressing my thoughts out loud to Mark. "It almost seems to me that real love may best be experienced once we fall out of the first phase of love and graduate to the second stage, that is, when we act lovingly toward each other because we choose to do so and not just because it feels good. This is our chance to show real love for each other like never before."

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'Til Death Do Us Part... Cover

'Til Death Do Us Part...
By Rene Reid Yarnell

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