I’m a pretty naive girl. I always have been. I’ve known this about myself for a long time, and this attribute has never bothered me. It’s helped me never jump to the worst case scenario, it’s helped me discover new and wonderful things in a childlike way, and it’s given me a heart that believes in the beauty of the world. It does, however, bother me when others mistake my naivite for stupidity. I am not stupid. I have never been stupid. I’m fully aware of why I make the choices I make, and none of those choices come from a lack of knowledge. They don’t come from a place of ignorance. They are not brought on by my inability to comprehend my surroundings.
So, when I decided to bring my husband to this wedding, I had a pretty solid idea of what kind of behavior I was in store for. I assumed he would be distant and agitated. It crossed my mind that he might drink too much. I even had my argument prepared in case he wanted to leave early. To his credit, he got ready and we were on the tram headed to the wedding site right on time. He sat next to me during the ceremony. He paid attention. He even pretended not to notice all the sympathetic looks my friends who knew about our current situation were giving me. He didn’t take my hand or kiss me or offer to help with my wrap, but that was fine. We were doing ok. We looked normal. And when I cried, I was able to pass it off as happy tears for my beautiful friend instead of desperate tears for the loss of the love I craved so deeply.
After the ceremony, we chatted with other guests and found our table in the reception hall. We were sitting with another couple we knew who were engaged, a good friend of ours who had been at our wedding, and her brother. Everyone at the table knew about our problems. They were all onboard to pretend that nothing was wrong. We were all doing ok. I was thrilled. For a moment I actually let myself relax. I turned to my husband and asked him how he enjoyed the ceremony. He said, “I kept thinking as I was watching them say their vows, that they truly loved each other. I don’t remember feeling anything when I said my vows to you. I should have felt something, but I felt nothing.” And then, as had become customary, I began doggie paddling again, just trying to keep myself above water. Refusing to let myself sink into the despair that was starting to swallow me whole. By now I had learned to shake it off. Feel later. Just keep moving. Don’t focus on the pain. Of course, he punctuated his statement with his all too familiar, “We never should have gotten married.” This had become his battle cry. I was becoming immune to it’s sting.
The rest of his behavior almost doesn’t matter. I’ve gone back and forth over the last week agonizing on whether to tell the entire story of this particular weekend or not. In the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must be honest, but I can also be brief. Yes, he was distant and agitated. Yes, he did drink too much. Way too much. He embarrassed himself by hitting on a group of girls at a different table. He refused to wait on the tram to take us back to our hotel, instead he wanted to get in the car with those girls and hang out with them. He was annoyed when I insisted on going along with them. He got angry when I made him go back to our hotel room with me, his wife. I killed his party. I got him to bed. I was numb. I’d taught myself how to survive this new life. It wasn’t ideal, but I was ok. I took off my pretty dress, wiped off my perfect make up, put away my jewelry; and stared down at the man who married me, but who felt nothing.
What I had hoped would happen, did not happen. He did not suddenly remember the joy of our wedding day. He did not turn to me with tears in his eyes realizing that he loved me again. He did not tell me how beautiful I was and how proud he was that I was his wife. But hoping for these things did not make me stupid. Putting up with his behavior did not make me stupid. Knowing that even after this, I would continue to love him and fight for him did not make me stupid. It meant I was his wife. And although watching our friend’s heartfelt wedding ceremony may not have made him feel what I wanted, it was a reminder to me of the promises I made to him and to God. As long as I was doing my very best to fulfill those promises, I was ok.
Yes, I am a naive woman. I believe in second chances. I believe in paying it forward. I believe that although we tend to hear more about the bad in the world, the reality is that there truly is more good. I believe in holding onto people, because people matter. I believe that humans need to know they are loved. I believe kindness makes a difference. Some may say that I was stupid to behave this way. I’m obviously divorced, so my actions didn’t pay off. But it’s never stupid to chose hope. It’s never stupid to remain faithful to your promises to God. And if getting up every morning and choosing to believe things will be better is naive, then I’m ok with that.
1 Corinthians 2:9 “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, not have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”