I’ll be honest, we didn’t last long in therapy. I could blame the expense or the time commitment, but the truth is he just didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to push him. By this point I was making myself sick doing everything possible to make him happy in our home so he wouldn’t up and leave me. I could tell every time we went to therapy his sole purpose was to prove that we shouldn’t be married, and more importantly that we never should have gotten married in the first place. It’s not even that we gave up on therapy. He stopped making the appointments and I acted like I didn’t notice or care that this weekly ritual had ended. He stopped pretending to fight and I began pretending it didn’t make a difference.
Before our journey into therapy ended, we did complete a big assignment. Our therapist suggested that we go out on a “first date.” My husband was to call me, invite me out on a planned date, and on the date we would re-meet each other. We were supposed to go into this pretending we didn’t know anything about the other person. A true first date. To me, this basically meant that he actually had to spend a whole evening with me. I was beyond excited. I mean, we had killed it at dating back in the day…maybe we just needed to remember what had initially attracted us to each other.
Problem #1 occurred in trying to find an evening for a date. Since I was trying desperately to be a non-nagging wife, I decided not to mention the fact that we hadn’t completed our assignment and the deadline was fast approaching. I didn’t exactly know what the hold up was, but finally I felt the need to confront my husband on this situation. My arguement was this, if we were going to pay for therapy, then we needed to take it seriously and do what the man asked of us. This was a MARRIAGE we were trying to save. Please try. We had to at least try. I needed him to try.
He called me while I was at work to ask me out. I remember thinking it was hilarious and being excited all at the same time. He played his part well, acting like he didn’t really know me, which tickled me, and we decided on a time and place for our date. I found the idea of going on a date with my husband thrilling. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because we had spent so little time together lately. Maybe it was because this was going to force him to actually look me in the eye and speak to me. Maybe it was just because I loved him and wanted to be with him.
The second problem of date night was the World Series. His team was playing and this meant a lot to him. At this point, we had been together over 7 years. His teams had become my teams. I had been forced to watch countless hours of baseball, football, and hockey. I had the gear. I owned jerseys, hats, t-shirts. I even knew the rules! We watched Sport Center every night. I wasn’t a moron. I knew this was a big deal, but so was our marriage. And sometimes you have to make sacrifices in life. He was going to have to miss a game (a very important game) to take his wife on a date. I could sense his urgency to end the date early, so he could get to the TV, from the moment the evening started. I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth, and tried not to think about baseball. And off we went.
He had the advantage of already knowing what restaurants I liked, which was great. He had thought ahead. He took me to my favorite wine bar for a glass of wine before dinner. We started with small talk. We talked about our family, what colleges we had attended, what we did for a living. I wanted to keep it light and fun. I had spent way more time than usual picking out the perfect outfit, doing my hair, actually putting on make up. I was trying my best to buy into the whole “first date” idea. If things kept going like this, then it was actually going to be a fun evening. It was interesting for me to listen to him talk about his life from a different perspective than what he had 7 years prior. We had grown and we had changed, but we had done it together. For the past 7 years, his experiences had been my experiences. In my mind, I loved the idea that we had become who we were by living this life side by side.
And then, things started to go south. Here’s the thing about sharing your feelings in couples therapy: If you’re honest, then the other part of your couple knows your hot button issues. I had been honest. We went from the wine bar to one of our best-loved restaurants in my favorite area of the city. We had reservations (always a plus). We ordered, and then the conversation turned. He began trying to discuss subjects he knew I was uncomfortable with. He made statements he knew I would disagree with. It was almost as if he was looking for a fight. And then it hit me. This was just a show. He had put together the seemingly perfect date, just to prove that we weren’t compatible. He wanted to go back into therapy exclaiming with pride how much effort he’d put into our evening, with the discovery that we just weren’t suitable for each other.
I felt my heart sink. Yet again, the realization that this man sitting across the table just didn’t want me. I looked into my husband’s eyes. I knew this man, and he was a stranger all at the same time. I refused to fight with him. Refused to play along with his little game. If he wanted to prove how wrong I was for him, he was going to have to do better than this. We finished our meal, and he asked if I’d like frozen yogurt for the walk home. And, as so often happens in New York, when we got to our frozen yogurt place we found that it was out of business. I’m sure in his mind this was some sort of sign about the future of our relationship…but here’s the thing about New York, there’s always another frozen yogurt place up a block or two. I cheerily suggested we try the next place. We were ending this thing on a high note, so help me God!
He walked me back to our apartment. We ended the assignment at our door. Then, we went inside and he finished watching the game that meant more than marriage and I went to bed still pretending this has been a successful evening while trying to convince myself that I was worth more than baseball.
This was the end of our adventure into therapy.
James 1: 2-3 “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”