Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rally at the Crossroads

Ann Leary, wife of Denis Leary, published author, was featured in Modern Love: "Rallying to Keep the Game Alive."
It begins with how the family tended to play tennis; fiercely, competitively, often resulting in sore losers. Denis would even "re-invent" the game in his own favor, refusing the acknowledge the accepted rules. 

The two had married young, had two children, and soon were in marital therapy. They decided to stay together for the sake of their children, however.

Yet at one point, they stated, simultaneously, their decision to split. Following the session, they sat down to a companionable lunch.
It was all over, there was nothing to lose, so I decided to serve up my final grievances, the things I felt he needed to know to fully understand that he was the cause of our marriage’s untimely end. I reminded him, in a resigned tone, of the time he did this, the time he did that . . . 
This was how we had come to view our marriage, as a penguin marriage, a partnership devoted to raising children. We had hoped to stick it out until they left the nest, but now it looked as if that would be impossible. So we were just having a last look.
Denis carefully refolded his napkin, and then said: “I’m sorry. If I could change those things I would, but I can’t. They’re in the past. But, I’m sorry.”
I had expected him to cry foul, to react the way he did when I said a questionable tennis shot of his was out. But he just said he was sorry. And I believed him. He had no reason to make up that kind of thing now.
That simple, uncharacteristic apology vanquished all the anger she held against him. They never ended up separating. 
So things got better. We went to our counselor. We went to our movies. We worked at treating each other more fairly. And we started playing a lot of tennis, just the two of us, whenever we could. Only now we played by the rules . . .
Though we were still ultracompetitive, we were becoming intensely proud when the other hit an amazing shot, and we didn’t hate the winner when we lost. We still played to win, but now we could feel joy for the other. We wanted to improve, and now we wanted, were actually thrilled, to see the other get better, too . . .
Denis was serving in this deciding game. He served carefully, not trying to ace it past me for once . . . I hit the ball into his court, and he hit it back into mine. I placed the ball in his court carefully, so carefully, and he placed it back in mine. We rallied, not with the adrenaline-pumping determination to win at all costs, but with the patience and control that came with not wanting it to be over: not the summer, not our son’s childhood, not this game, ever.
Back and forth we sent the ball. And it occurred to me there was some sort of grace in my husband’s form, and I felt it in mine, too, as we both worked to keep the game alive just a little longer, by trying to find each other’s sweet spot, by playing, for once, to the other’s advantage. 
I was struck by this article in contrast to an "Unhitched" profile called "When Nest Emptied, Discontent Entered." In the newspaper itself it was also labeled, "A Wrong Turn Taken at a Crossroads." 

The divorce was apparently at her instigation; while he is now with someone else, he states that he should have put up more of a fight to save the marriage. 

She wanted him to be "more," and blamed her discontent on him while he loved her as is. 
“I’m one of those feminists who is hard to satisfy: I wanted romance, a partner, a provider and a man to do half the domestic work. I looked to Ed for happiness rather than finding it myself.” She thinks this attitude was in part a byproduct of the confusing times when women were told they could have it all. 
Eventually, her harping pushed him away for good, while she had always believed that he would never leave her. Dating is certainly not as fun as she thought it would be. 
Their issues now seem superficial, not good enough reasons for ending the marriage. “I’m not happier, but I’m happy. We both have changed tremendously.”[Boomers divorce so often because they] want too much. 


Alan Levin said...

Good story... if I may clarify the conclusion... often divorce is because one partner wants too much. It takes two to stay married and one to get divorced.
Now why would one partner want too much? What does one learn as a child or an adult to limit one's ability to compromise fairly, to work in a team, to share, and to love unconditionally?

Princess Lea said...

It ALL comes down to discipline, is my guess.