If You Think It's Intense Out Here, You Should See What It's Like Inside...
"Solace, haven, fear, all of these are words which have created moods that one has learned to accept without ever questioning their value."
My husband and I have been married just over 24 years. It is actually a miracle to have found him and the difference he makes in my life, each day, could not have come from any other source. When I met my husband, I had already been married and divorced twice, both for short periods. The reason for this, in my mind, is because my first two husbands were unfaithful to me.
When I was growing up, my father was unfaithful to my mother and it had a devastating effect on our whole family. It all started, for me, when I was 4 years old. I was in the tub, bathing and playing with my floating toys. My Mother came into the room to get me out of the bath, as I had been in for quite a while. She was crying. I asked her what was wrong. She said, "Your Father is having an affair." I was 4 years old. I didn't know what that meant so I said, "What is that?" What she said next changed my outlook for the next several decades of my life. She said, "He does not love me anymore." Well, what went through my little 4 year old mind was that if he didn't love her anymore, he didn't love me, either.
Up until that moment, life was basically bliss for me. After that moment, I would never trust anyone to become close to me again until a day in April of 1986, when my world stood still. My Father told me he loved me every day of our lives together until I left home at the age of eighteen. I never believed him again. As if this had not already nailed the coffin shut, when I was 13, he told me, in front of my Mother, that it was my fault he was unfaithful to her. He said that she spent too much time attending my school events and should be spending that time with him. I had just become a majorette with the marching band and my Mother was about to take me back to school to march in my first half-time show during one of our school's football games. I was not able to reason, at such a young age, that my Father should have accompanied my Mother and I to this event. Instead, I was pierced through the heart by his words as the life force drained from my very being. I was crushed. I began the life of the living dead, that day, and it would take much to snap me out of it. When I was 19, my Father was killed in an accident. It threw me into the tailspin of my life. I felt desperate to find a way out of this self-destructive course my life had taken. This lead to a time of intense searching in my life to try to find meaning in a world so self-absorbed as to cut down the life of another without a second thought.
I learned much throughout this time of educating myself about what is truly important. The things I did learn made vast differences in the ongoing adventure of my life. What they did not do was help me find a way to trust another.
When each of my first two husbands asked me to marry them, I told them that I loved them and wanted to spend my life with them, but I also told them that the one thing I would never tolerate was infidelity. I would never accept unfaithfulness, ever. They either didn't believe me or it was not important to them to have me in their life. It did not matter to me. They both made their excuses. The first husband said he did it because he was bored. My second husband said, "It's only sex, it doesn't mean anything." People act like their excuse for breaking their promises is equal to keeping the promise. It is not! I found myself listening to more promises of, "I will never do it again." I tried after that to believe them, I really did, but when I found each of them being unfaithful again, I threw in the towel of trust once and for all, or at least I thought I had, at the time.
When my husband, Bruce, asked me to marry him, my response was, "Are you insane?" "I do not intend to ever marry again." I told him what happened in my first two marriages and how I had become cynical about the issue of trust. I said, "You can trust people to do what they do, but you cannot trust their word or their promises." I told him I would live with him as long as it worked for the two of us, but that I could not even consider the idea of marriage. He said, "I see you as a person who wants to share their life with another and although you don't see that right now, I will wait patiently, because when you do recognize this I want to be first in line."
Over the next year, we spent much time doing what friends do. We have a great deal in common, so finding ways to enjoy each other's company was not difficult. One of the things we had made the commitment to do, as friends, was to take courses together that would grow us as individuals and as a couple. We signed up for a course called the Six Day. This event, per the title, lasted for six days. It took place in northern California. It consisted of inside, very intense class work that challenged the very core of our beliefs about ourselves and others. It also included an outdoor course which was rigorous and pushed us to the limit of our willingness. At the end of the course each of us had to stand on a stage alone and tell all the other members in attendance what we were committed to, going forward. Bruce stood on the stage and said that he was committed to having me have trust in my life, so powerfully, that it would actually allow me to experience trust for the rest of my life and enable me to alleviate it as an issue, for all time.
We were not allowed to sit next to someone we knew throughout these six days, so after the seminar was over I looked for Bruce and could not find him. I went outside and in the far distance I saw him walking away with another woman from the seminar. Even after all that had happened in those last many days, the first thing my mind went to was that he was off with someone else and could not be trusted. He came back after only a few minutes and when I confronted him, he said that he was trying to help someone who had lost something. I was beside myself with grief and I could not shake the feeling of having been betrayed yet again. We went to the car and Bruce started to discuss it with me. I was speechless. I sat there listening to him say over and over that he could be trusted. I heard him say that he had just made a public declaration to support me in having trust in my life, but I could not answer.
We were parked next to a very busy road and Bruce decided to move to a safer place. We drove to a convenience store and sat in the parking lot for almost 4 hours. Many people passed our car, but it was as if we were invisible. No one seemed to notice us, at all. He did everything he could to assure me of his intentions. I still could not speak. All I could do was cry and feel the deepest, darkest despair. At a point he said that we should return to the hotel and have some dinner. We had not eaten since breakfast.
We went back to the hotel. I had finally found my tongue and began to tell him how profound an issue this was for me and that I thought he was wasting his time trying to have a relationship with me when I was sure he could find someone better to live the rest of his life with. I told him that I had no intention of doing anything for someone else ever again that I did not want to do. I told him that he could depend on me for only three things. They were, 1. I would intentionally recreate my love for him every single day like it was brand new. 2. I could be counted on to be a great partner and friend. One who was trustworthy myself. And, 3. I told him that I would create an opening for him each day where I would see him newly, even though he might have done the same things over and over forever. I told him that he could not create other expectations of me because I was not here, on this earth, to fulfill his expectations. I was here to fulfill the purpose for which I had come. I told him that before he ever asked me to marry him again, he should know who he is talking to. I proceeded to tell him all the reasons he should not marry me, and there were many, many of them. After I had finished reading him 'the riot act', he said, "That is the most powerful thing anyone has ever said to me."
We talked peacefully throughout the rest of the evening, but my nerves were raw, and I was weary of so much talk. I prayed most of the night to try to find light in the darkness of my soul. As the early light was dawning, we awoke and were on our way. I had exhausted every single ounce of energy I had ever had around the issue of trust. Several days after returning home, Bruce asked me to marry him again. This time, what he actually said was, "On what day will you marry me?" I said October 17, 1986. The rest is history.