The digital bells rang out, calling us to a new morning. Their ringing was in surround sound, because we both have our phones set to go off at the same time. I fumbled around trying to tap my snooze screen without opening my eyes. Neither one of us were quite ready to peel ourselves off our queen size angel’s wings, but after a few more snooze taps we stumbled into our morning, with little words or eye contact.
It’s on one of our morning passes that Matt stopped, engulfed me in his arms, and with a scratchy voice said, “I love you so much.” We held each other for another minute, and finished it off with a kiss. In that moment we stood in a deep river, the rush wasn’t fast, but it was furious and alive, with a sense of certainty and oneness.
We didn’t make it to that moment without first walking through a fiery hell. When I was reading about the stages of marriage, there’s one called the Explosion Stage. It’s where life-altering events send you, your spouse or both into crisis. I’m gonna just lay it out on the table; your husband’s affair is an explosion. Also, death of a loved one, infertility, job loss, and so many more of life’s challenges can push you into the explosion stage.
Everything blows up in your faces. Shrapnel penetrates your skin, your hearts are gushing blood, and two people once in love aren’t fighting to save their marriage, they’re fighting to take their next breath. Things get ugly. The wounds are so deep, so intense, that making the pain stop consumes your every thought. You become delusional, you lose your sense of reality, and the pain causes you to turn on your own flesh and devour him (or her) with certainty that he’s the source of your pain.
And all you can think is, “Get out. Save yourself.”
Or maybe you’re the one, through all the pain, can hear a small voice whisper inside, “I’m not ready to end this.” Listen to that voice. Trust that voice. Be brave, stay on the gory front lines for as long as you can. You don’t have to give up until you’re ready to give up.
Then, save yourself. Get help. You can’t change your spouse, you can’t make your spouse stay, and you can’t save your spouse, but you can change, you can stay, and you can save yourself. Do it like your life depends on it, because it does, and even if your marriage doesn’t survive the explosion, you will.
And if your marriage does survive there’s a final stage — the Completion Stage. I think they gave it such a boring name. I mean, if you survive an explosion, then the next stage needs to have a better name than that, like Awesome Sauce stage, or Cremé de la cremé Stage, but I digress.
It’s in this final stage that something major happens. There’s a deepness to the river that was never there before. There’s openness, life, and unity. And if you truly save yourself, then you will find freedom and happiness after the explosion.
One article I found reads,
Part of being a happy man is to never lose the boy within; the same goes for women – there is the spirit of a young girl inside, no matter how many wrinkles edge the eyes. Maintaining a childlike love of life, laughter, nature, and each other is the real secret to a perpetually blessed relationship. It is also living in the present, not the past. In the completion stage of marriage, there is never a belief that the best times are over – they should always be today and tomorrow.
So, no matter what stage you’re on in your journey of marriage, I hope you remember to be brave and risk it all to stay and fight after the explosion, because what you’ll find on the other side of the fiery hell is the cremé de la cremé.
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