Friday, February 1, 2008

Alphabet Soup - Letter "U"

U is for UNITY; I write this from the heart. UNITY is a choice I make in my marriage.

Unity does not mean I agree with everything my husband may say or think or believe. It means I openly acknowledge my bond with him and am committed to keeping that alliance strong in spite of our differences.

UNITY was put to the test in my household recently.

I have been on pins and needles waiting to hear if I might get a job that I had applied for. I live in Oregon and the job is in Michigan. I am ready to make that move. However, over the course of the last several days it has become ever more clear that my beloved husband is not. Up until now he was hedging on expressing his reservations about it. I guess he was hoping I simply would not get the job, thus avoiding him being in the hotseat of putting the kabosh on my dream. But as the preliminary interview went very well and I was ready to start showing our house to potential buyers, the jig was up and the cat out of the bag.

While he too appreciates the positives a move back to the Midwest could bring us, and would welcome the chance to be closer to family there, he is not ready to give up his job here to make that happen.

So we have very DIFFERENT ideas of what is important at this season of our lives. We have very DIFFERENT priorities of what matters most. There is no way to compromise on this. Either we live here and I am disappionted or we live there and he is disappointed or we live apart and we are both unhappy. Someone has to give. In this case, that will be me.

I have cried more tears than I can count about this. I really thought our agreement was that once he hit 62 and could take social security I would have the freedom to take any job I wanted - where ever that might lead. I knew it would mean some sacrifices. But I thought he would support the chance for me to find a career move that was right for me since I'll be working another 15 years. I've done cross country moves multiple times for him and made sacrifices every time. I thought this time it was my turn to lead us, and that I could lead us back to where our sons and grandchildren are. I really believed we were on the same page with this choice.

Apparently once we got away from the talking stage to the putting things in boxes and calling movers for estimates stage he had second thoughts (and third and fouth and fifth.) Bottom line - he would go if I was insistent, if I demanded, if I said I would be miserable if we stayed here. But he would not be happy about it. Sure, I could get my way. But that would simply open up a wound of another sort, one I am not willing to breach. So, although I've done my best to convince him why I believe it really would be best for ALL of our family - including him - to take this leap of faith and trust that we would land on our feet once we got back there, I will not throw a fit or issue ultimatums. Sadly, right now it seems he just can't get past his fears and reservations about the unknown factors. That frustrates me beyond words. Still, even if I'm convinced we are missing out on something we both would really value, I cannot, will not ask him to do it if he does not believe it is the right thing.

I feel so much sorrow and anguish over this. But what I do NOT feel is a wedge between me and him. I choose not to.

I adore this man I am married to. I honor him for his integrity, his work ethic, his righteousness. I love his quirky sense of humor and so appreciate the way he makes me groan & laugh with his kooky ways. I am inspired by his sense of adventure and ability to play...something I can definitely learn from when I am taking life oh-so-seriously. I am humbled by his commitment to service and kindness to others. I am grateful for how handy he is around the house and truly appreciate his willingness to take part in projects big and small to make our home better. Besides that, just in the day-to-day maintenance stuff he's more than willing to do his share of the cooking and cleaning and all that domestic stuff that otherwise could be overwhelming if I felt it was all mine to do. I love his passion for his music, his reliability and strength. He is one of the most decent human beings I know. He gives me room to be who I am in so many ways. Granted, in this one specific instance it does feel like he is holding me back and limiting my opportunity for growth. But in countless dozens of other ways that only the two of us know, he has given me the nurturing to flourish into the woman I am today. He truly has been my dearest friend for the past 26 years. I choose him, where ever that may leave me.

Do I wish he was supportive of this move? You betcha! Am I sad as sad can be that it will not work out as I had planned? Absolutely. But I refuse to allow this difference to become a seed of bitterness to tarnish the bond we have for each other.

Unity does not mean we have to be a reflection of each other. Unity means that we make the deliberate choice to honor and support and uphold each other in love.

I choose unity. Even when it is really, really hard. Even when my heart is breaking into a dozen splintered pieces, I choose love.

So often I hear people say things like "I can't help the way I feel."

I don't buy it. I say we CAN choose to overcome our passions. We can choose honor and love in circumstances when the world says we are justified to be angry, indignant, outraged. I feel pain. I feel sorrow. But I choose not to turn it to anger. I choose love.

When I need to be reminded of this, I can turn to the words of Gordon B. Hinkley whose recent talk "Slow to Anger" can be read here. Such powerful words! Tomorrow is Gordon Hinkley's funeral. He will be deeply missed. May his memory be eternal. And may I continually strive to remember his words.


Jen said...

Oh am I so sorry to read this. It sucks. My grandparents faced a similar situation moving to Oregon. My grandma wanted to be near my mom, grandpa couldn't fathom not living in Utah for his entire life. They finally compromised by snow birding, but then g-pa's health mandated they had to stop that. Which meant staying in Oregon year round and he was not happy about it. Now, after 3 years of working up to it, he's announced that Oregon is his home, and that he loves it there. But in many ways its been a miserable 3 years getting to that point for both of them.

I'll be praying for you that you will be able to find a way to follow your dreams--and your heart--simultaneously.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Do you know how much you have inspired me with this post? You've had a big disappointment, your husband is the cause, and yet you are choosing to love him for all that he is instead of holding this against him. How beautiful -- I need to take this example and use it. I do hold things against my husband. I'm a grudge-holder. I've been trying to overcome it, and I'm doing better than I have in the past, but I still have so far to go.

I'm going to remember this post for a long time. Thank you for demonstrating the importance of choosing to forgive and to love.

Laura Young said...

Oh man this is SO hard. What a great demonstration of what so few are able to do, though...make tough choices between equally strong and compelling values. We like to think that there are ways in life to "have it all" but the truth is, very difficult decisions like this are the norm. We don't have many people standing up and demonstrating this though. People don't want to know that marriage, even really wonderful ones, carry their share of pain. Thus, younger couples so rarely have good role models of marriages that truly work. In this time of increasingly scattered families, and baby boomers coming into retirement, these kinds of decisions are going to be facing many many couples.