I got home one night and, as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, “I want a divorce.” She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words. Instead, she softly asked me why. I avoided the question, and this made her angry. She threw down the chopsticks and shouted, “You are not a man!” We didn’t talk to each other that night. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage, but I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!
With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement stating that she could keep the house, the car, and a 30% share of my company. She glanced at it and tore it to pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy, but I could not take back what I had said. She finally cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see in the first place, and the idea of divorce felt more real now.
I got home very late from work the next day, and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have dinner, I just went straight to bed and fell asleep.
In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but requested that for the next month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month, and she didn’t want to disrupt him with a broken marriage.
She also asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day, and requested that I now carry her out of our bedroom to the front door every morning for the month’s duration. I thought she was going crazy, but to make our last days together bearable, I accepted her odd request.
We were both pretty clumsy about it when I carried her out on the first day, but our son was joyfully clapping his hands behind us, singing, “Daddy is holding mommy in his arms!” His words triggered a sense of pain in me. I carried her from the bedroom to the living room, and then to the door. She closed her eyes and softly said, “Don’t tell our son about the divorce.” I nodded and put her down outside the door.
We weren’t as clumsy on the second day. She leaned on my chest, and I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t really looked at this woman for a long time. She was not young anymore. There were fine wrinkles on her face, and her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.
On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me. On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by, and I suddenly realized that she was getting very thin.
One morning it hit me how she was burying so much pain and bitterness in her heart, and without really thinking about it, I reached out and touched her head. Our son came in at that moment and said, “Dad, it’s time to carry mom out!” To him, seeing his father carry his mother out had become an essential part of every morning. My wife gestured to our son to come closer, and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might start changing my mind. I carried her in my arms, and her hand naturally wrapped around my neck. I held her body tightly, just like on our wedding day.
On the last day, when I held her in my arms, I could hardly move a step. I knew what I had to do. I drove to Jane’s place, walked upstairs and said, “I’m sorry, Jane, but I do not want to divorce my wife anymore”.
It all became very clear to me. I had carried my wife into our home on our wedding day, and I am to hold her “until death do us apart”. I bought a bouquet of flowers for my wife on my way home, and when the salesgirl asked me what to write on the card, I smiled and said, “I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart”.
I got home, flowers in my hands, and a big smile on my face. But my wife had died in her sleep while I was away. It turns out that she’d been fighting cancer for a few months now, but I was too busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon, but wanted to save me from a negative reaction from our son (in case we push through with the divorce). In the eyes of our son, at least, I would still appear to have been a loving husband. I carried her out for the last time…
The small details of our lives, that I initially thought were boring and unimportant, are what really matters in a relationship; not the mansion, the car, personal property or the money in the bank. These things may create an environment conducive for happiness, but they cannot provide happiness in-and-of themselves.
So find time to be your lover’s friend, and to do those little things for each other that build intimacy.
Photo by Thava Raj