I have heard couples refer to the term, ten-year plan in recent years. What does that mean? It's basically the waiting period where cowards like myself and my husband feel like we can wait it out until our kids are essentially old enough where a split would not be as detrimental to their childhood. The plan assumes that once they have reached a certain age (in our case, 20 and 17), they are busy developing their own adult lives, and are hopefully less dependent on our foundation as a family. In theory, that should work. But the reality is, that foundation is a bit shaky isn't it? What does that foundation look like for those 10 years? If we are both counting the days? And how does that really translate over to the posterity? And yet, what are the alternatives?
I think my husband cannot stand the sight of me. I think he is counting the minutes until I am no longer a part of his everyday life. A divorce at these ages would certainly not facilitate that. So staying together means he just tolerates me. However, in cases where I try his patience, he has zero tolerance. For example, when I forget something (all the time!) or misplace something(my keys) or just plain screw up (his cell phone on our trip to Arizona); his reaction is considerably more harsh than is reasonable. Oh, I'm not saying he can't get angry with me, but there is a difference. His reactions are quite far from those of someone who loves and accepts me-faults and all. What I can't reckon, is whether it's my inherent character flaws that he hates so much the problem or does it just boil down to a basic lack of forgiveness, grace and compassion. I remember that I once had to force myself to concede those very things in order to regain the once compromised feelings I had for him. We have both been in each other's shoes, so-to-speak. I don't advocate one of us is better than the other. Perhaps I have just been there longer. I have a few years on him when it comes to dealing with the pain of being let down and hurt by the one you love the most. But I don't think so. I don't think it will change. And it scares me. How does that really affect our kids? Are we really doing them any favors?
I was getting dressed for a game, and my sweet friend Shelly was putting on my make up and doing my hair. She kept going on and on about how beautiful she thought I was. But I don't feel beautiful. I never really have. She went on to suggest that Paul thinks I am too-she says she can tell by the way he looks at me. And I have not felt those gazes in so long that I am wondering if it was just a figment of my imagination. How can others see something I do not feel? And the strangest part is, I wasn't sure I felt that way about him either. But then, out of nowhere, we were standing in the hotel lobby waiting on the elevator. One of the housekeeping ladies was trying, unsuccessfully, to maneuver her cart into the elevator as a group of us just waited and watched. After a couple of minutes, Paul took the cart gently and guided it with ease where it needed to go. Then she looked up at him, and he just smiled. Just a simple smile.
It was a smile I used to know. One I have not seen for many, many years. It actually took my breath away. In that instant, he just looked like my Paul. He looked so beautiful, so kind, so warm. I can hardly put it in words. It was just that side of him I used to know that said, "I will take care of you. You will always be safe on my watch."
Now I feel more like he is just existing to meet obligations and because he loves his boys. And I understand that-I do. I feel the same way sometimes. And yet, I get these fleeting glimpses like that of what it used to be or what it could possibly still be, and I find myself wondering-are we just on the ten year plan now? Are we just waiting it out until he can go find a younger, newer model-someone who has no mileage and who doesn't have the faults I do? And I will go live in a condo in Aurora with a cat?
I don't know the answer to that. I don't know a lot of things. I do know that it is not what I want. It is not the best option, even it if is the easiest one. I do know that smile, and I would give anything to have it back.