A Marriage Story

Anna and Sam have been together for nearly two decades. They are not madly in love with each other. They never were. But together they have built a comfortable home and a peaceful life and it was more than she had ever wanted. As individuals, they are polar opposites. Anna is very giving and just. She also has a sensitive side which she tries to hide from others lest it would make her seem weak. This sensitivity renders her emotionally tender and also fuels her creativity by forcing her to look at things from different perspectives. Sam is aloof, rational and incredibly kind in nature. He would openheartedly shower praises on outside people. However, when it comes to his wife, his generosity is dispensed in carefully measured quantities. This bothered Anna, but every time she questioned him for his stinginess towards her, he would dismiss her by saying that his actions come from a good place and by being overtly sensitive she is reading too much into his harmless gesture. Although from inside she never really approved of this patronizing side to her otherwise generous well-meaning husband, she would quietly accept his answer and go about her life as if nothing happened. Maintaining peace in the household at any cost was one of the first lessons she had learned while growing up in a combative family where love and affection always came with conditions. Raised by a domineering hyper-critical mother and an almost absent and distant father, Anna had learned to hide her hurt feelings from a very young age and often played a mediator between her warring parents.

The exposure to a volatile environment from childhood made her very good at keeping up with pretenses. She learned to conceal her true self and always appeared bright and cheerful to others. In doing so, she unwittingly became a pushover and a people pleaser- a trait she soon started to resent herself for. In those rare occasions when she did retaliate against some kind of injustice or meanness towards herself, she faced indifference, shame, and ridicule which ultimately enforced her inner fears and insecurities- to be liked and accepted, she has to be agreeable. Confrontation is bad; showing emotions is vulgar; demanding explanations against unfairness is rude; maintain peace, always; people who do not question others and appear pleasant and happy all the time are loved by everyone- these are the mantras she started to live by.

However, things began to change after the birth of her daughter. Anna completely devoted herself to the child’s upbringing. All the un-spent love buried inside her came pouring in on the girl. For the first time in life, she felt safe to express love and affection and did an exceptional job of being a hands-on mother. The arrival of the girl proved good for her married life too. All the former awkwardness and unspoken unpleasantness between the couple was immediately pushed under the rug and the child became a buffer between the loosely connected parents.

But today, Anna is faced with a different kind of challenge altogether. Her daughter has turned 18 and is soon leaving home for college. The thought of separating from her only child disrupts Anna’s cautiously constructed peaceful life. All her life, she had chosen peace over everything, but after the girl leaves home, she will be forced to come face-to-face with some uncomfortable questions regarding her passivity and inability to assert herself in challenging situations. In the absence of their daughter, a new phase of getting to know each other will start between the couple. The ancient resentments are bound to re-surface and there is no running away from that. This time, the mature and less-confused version of Anna is not sure if she will like the man she had lived almost half of her life with. And she also fears that Sam would not like this new transformed Anna either.

 ©Piyali_RB

Picture: KELLEPICS via Pixabay

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