Nearly twenty-two years of the same stealthy preparations. A pre-dawn routine executed with precision. On this particular morning, I sought extra discretion. My mission was to slip away unnoticed. Avoid interaction or confrontation. No words. Simply brush her cheek with a kiss and leave her sleep undisturbed. Gently close the bedroom door, descend the stairs, and traverse the minefield of aging floorboards without setting-off a creak or groan.
My destination: the office. The goal: a quiet morning of coffee, reading, prayer – you know – the litany of good, noble, and righteous things that are fodder for humble tweeting.
I wish there was something tweet-worthy in those moments. My morning maneuvers that day were a cover-up. A ruse. An attempt to distance myself from the week’s tension. Tension with what, I’m not sure. I can’t pinpoint a particular issue or conversation or event. Life just felt like a slow plodding through fog and a 45-degree drizzle. I don’t enjoy being wet or cold and those days gave me feelings of wet and cold. I responded with observable annoyance and emotional withdrawal. And as I began that day in question, my aim was continued retreat…to somewhere…alone.
I slipped out the door and was soon bunkered in my dimly lit office. My escape seemed assured. The coffee was poured, email checked, and Bible open. I was alone, and it was quiet.
Until my computer loosed a tinker bell chime. A new iMessage. From my wife.
My cover was blown.
Here’s our brief exchange:
Are you meeting someone for breakfast?
No. I’m in my office studying. I meet my mom at 8.
Can I come up and have a meeting? 🙂
a meeting?? about what?
Just a couple things I started to write but are complicated. Easier to talk.
Ugh. She was on to me, hot in her pursuit. I was hemmed-in. Trapped. She was coming to crash my pity party. What did she want to talk about? “Complicated” is code word for “you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do, buddy!” I found small consolation in her use of a smiley face emoticon.
I sighed, then slouched in my chair. I was upset and disappointed. Not with her, but me.
I didn’t want to see her. Well, I did…and didn’t. I was seeking escape so I could spend time floating like deadwood in the mental whirlpool of ‘woe is me.’ I wanted to craft my case for why I deserve better. That morning I wasn’t interested in reason or rescue. I didn’t want to chat.
But she did. And she’s my wife, so we talk.
She is also the person I fear the most. I fear her, not because she is unkind, but because she knows too much — too much about me. Marriage necessitates deep, personal revelation. A sacred vulnerability brought forth through committed trust. With transparency comes risk in our engagements because neither she nor I are free from mistakes. We misjudged and misinterpret. We make assumptions. We say things we shouldn’t and cause each other pain. This reality can be frightening. Sometimes distance seems a safer choice. It did for me that morning.
But marriage is a covenanted oneness. A relationship that pursues and protects and breaks into early morning darkness. It brings warmth to a cold heart. It protects from the mist that dampens a spirit. How wonderful is it that someone who has experienced the most offensive, disgusting, repulsive things about you makes the willful choice to seek. To find. To confront. To love.
My wife has heaps of grace and saintly patience for this stubborn man. I am blessed, and grateful.
I really did hope to escape that morning. On occasion I need some time by myself to get straightened around. My wife knows that and gives appropriate space.
She also knows when to track me down.