Marriage is hard. Texting a friend, “I’m sitting in my car alone in an empty parking lot eating a pizza because I don’t want to go home.” Hard.
Even the good days require effort.
Forty. Some of my friends have a decade or more of marriage at my age; even one or two have crossed the 20 year mark. My nearly 5 years seems frivolous. But then I count out what we’ve covered: miscarriage, serious illness in one of our parents, 5 moves-5 cities, a could-have-been-fatal health event for me, and those years grow exponentially, maybe a short time on the trail, but treacherous terrain nonetheless.
Even so, the hardest days have been watching as events unfold-- things that happen to L__ as I sit on the sidelines; losing one job was difficult, but another move and a new company within a few short weeks helped righten the world.
Until it wasn’t.
And six months later, the same scene on repeat.
Everyone said it didn’t matter what he did for a living, that his job didn’t define him. He and I said it often enough; it became our greeting.
People were supportive, loved us in any way they knew how. Well wishes and phone numbers and leads and contacts were offered. All in his industry. And then the next layer, a little different field, but someone knows someone and he thinks there is an opening.
I quit counting after 70. 70 resumes, applications, a handful of interviews and more than 60 days on the calendar and no offers. No new leads. There were no more home cooked dinners and lazy nights watching $1 DVDs,; mentions of God’s plan and timing were only through gritted teeth. He began to wonder what was holding him back. Days I told him I couldn’t think if a thing; other days I told him the truth.
The only job offer came from a single mom in her late twenties; she needed a delivery guy for the chain pizza store she managed. She didn’t ask him about his undergrad experiences or anything about his master’s thesis. She asked if he would work hard and show up on time. And then gave him a t-shirt and a hat and told him to start tomorrow.
A couple of friends asked, “How does he feel about having to take a job like that?”
Most of our conversations ended in, “But just while he looks for something else.”
But there wasn’t something else, and this became our new normal.
I quit asking if any other offers had come, and he no longer sent me the rejection emails. But the rhythm of the familiar returned: laundry, food, and children can always ground you. And then like He frequently does, God revealed subtleties, nuances in what were now our days: my husband had stopped sweating all the time, something he had done since long before I met him; his stomach was no longer painful; his high blood pressure lower than any time in recent memory. We had a cheap Mexican dinner without a single phone call, and some late nights were spent with inappropriate comedy in seven minute YouTube bits.
We quit referring to his new job as temporary.
And on the good days the new normal was enough.
And most times we believe each other.
And then there was today—his turn—his apology that he wasn’t the man I married.
I told him that it was OK—that I really preferred the pizza guy.