Journal Relationships

Playing Chicken: A Marriage on the Brink of the End

Playing Chicken: A Marriage on the Brink of the End

I will not do it. I will not say, “Go. I don’t want this anymore.”

But I want to.

For almost six years I’ve sat, waiting for my husband to leave. He says he wants to. He tells me he’s done and that he’s going to go, that he doesn’t want this. Us. Our family. Multiple times a week, when our life is too much, he quits. But he never leaves. I think it’s because he wants my permission. He wants me to tell him to go, where to stay, and what to do. He wants me to plan his exit for him, so the decision won’t be his. I won’t.

There we sit, playing chicken.

Waiting for someone to make the first move out the door.

Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of love and laughter. Small bursts of lightness, I can feel the air crackle with hope that we’ll be alright. Children are born and I think now it will change. It will be better. There are also moments when I cry at night wondering what I’ve done to make it all go so terribly wrong and how it would feel to say goodbye to more than a decade of my life.

I try to focus on me, because if you’re going to fix a relationship you start with yourself, right? I begin healing wounds and letting go of resentment and anger. I make progress and feel lighter, almost healed, and then it happens. Again.

“I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”

I know I’m not fun. I know I am not attractive in that way anymore. I know I’m unsure and moody and rarely feel up to a raucous night in bed. I know that I am lonely in the thick of mothering small children. But I’m trying.

I try to be athletic and to keep the house uncluttered. I try to make good food and to grow our children into people we want to be around. I try to overcome my anxiety and let go of those mental hurdles holding me back. I try to carry the burdens of everyday life so that he can focus on his job and, maybe, even healing himself. I try to forget and forgive and move forward. I try.

I know it’s not enough. I’m not sure I’m enough to keep it together.

So I sit. And wait. The game of chicken continues.

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