The Authentic Eclectic

The giant elephant in the marital bed.

Denial or die trying: facing or fixing a crumbling marriage.

An elephant’s trunk, up close, Trudi Bishop, Medium
Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash

My marriage might be crumbling before mine and my husband’s eyes. I don't think we want to face up to it. That would be a big, deep, dark rabbit hole ending in a cul de sac of hell.

If we stay in denial and ignore the giant signs maybe we might just stumble on through the tunnel and find the light that brings us back to one another.

If that’s what we want. I am unsure what either of us want anymore.

The elephant seems to be growing daily. There is no longer room for it and us in the bed we share.

What was once a huge super king, large enough for each to spread out comfortably, where we could spoon then starfish, limbs just touching, connecting us as one, is now the tiniest of cliff edges I cling to every-night looking into the nighttime abyss. Pillows walled up behind, protecting me from the crushing elephant silence that now shares our marital bed.

There are times the trunky intruder doesn’t join us. These are far and few.

I have contemplated moving to a different room. This would initiate an awkward conversation and an even more awkward explanation to our son. He doesn't like change as it is, let alone his parents sleeping in different rooms all of a sudden.

I do sometimes sleep on the cool sofa, enjoyng the warmth of our cat snuggled up on me. It is a nice change. Our cat isn't allowed to sleep on our bed. It is a bone of contention. (To be fair, our cat can be a bit “attacky” in the middle of the night — we both have the scars, so I guess this is a fair enough call).

I don’t sleep well anymore. I used to sleep through anything. Now no. I often end up in the lounge, middle of the night, herbal tea, book, cat and finally drift off to sleep. I want sleep. I also don’t want to disturb my husband who has work in the morning.

As he is prone to reminding me on an all too regular basis.

Oh there they are. The two large chinks in our marriage armour. My lack of sleeping and lack of a job. They cause little jabs by my husband at what are becoming my achilles heal.

It seems to be the small things that add up to the big holes that begin to tear a marriage apart. They seem to creep up on you in the same way the cat just appears silently, suddenly, behind you when it is close to tea time.

You know the ones. You start noticing how loudly your partner chews, it starts to grate. They fart too often — they’ve always farted. At one point early on you could laugh at them. (Farts can be funny afterall). But now, you find them disgusting. Why can’t your partner just go to the loo.

Grate, grate.

Then there are the little jibes. In front of friends. Family. Your child. At home. We never used to be like this. We were a tight unit. Impenetrable. It happens alot. I have witnessed it among friends and family. That slow demise of a relationship. Vowing we wouldn’t be that couple. We would talk. Always be honest.

Yet here we are. Tired. Jibing. Wearing each other down year by year like water on a sandstone.

I am reminded on an almost daily basis that I don’t have a job, as the sole income earner, my husband’s stress seems to outweigh any I may have. A self imposed burden weighted down by the side comments. Even our hobbies are on an uneven keel.

His are more time consuming, more expensive, more important for his wellbeing. They take precedence over all, yet I am reminded how little time he has between the job and home-life — spending time with our ever increasingly troublesome son.

I get where he’s coming from. I empathise. I really do.

But when is it time to stop. To look each other in the eye. To unpack the suitcase holding our true feelings.

The saying goes, you shouldn’t pick a sore. Is this one of those times?

My suitcase is getting heavy. It is hard to lug around everyday and every night. The little gremlins living it are creeping out, infecting the household.

I don’t know where to begin. But I think I would like it to end.

I know that these things are not the reason I see the crumbling of our relationship. The lack of honesty around bringing a child into our lives is.

We never sat down and talked it through properly. We just went on in. We brought into our lives a child severly damaged by early trauma. A child that pushes all our buttons, brings out the worst in us, the sides we both hated about our own parents. We are becoming the people we didn’t want to be.

When you let the gremlins into your life they infect everything. They suck goodness, intimacy out. It’s toxic.

The elephant has taken up so much room we don’t even cuddle. A hug is rare. Sex — what’s that?! Cobwebs are growing on my ‘foofoo’. That one is definitely down to me. I’m going through perimenopause, sex is the last thing on my mind.

Does the lack of sex lead to the lack of all intimacy and then a lack of love? Or are they steps we simply impose on ourselves as expectations from reading too many self help columns? I am beginning to wonder if it is the latter. Our sex life has always been fairly average to be fair. But we were always solid as a couple.

The crumbling started with the adoption of our son. I think. Well, it’s an easy crutch to hang it on. For now. Too many buttons pushed. Two people flailing in the wind of adoptive parenting. One only half really wanting to be in it. The other too busy with work to be fully in. Setting ourselves up for failure perhaps? Who knows.

So where to from here. We have spent half our lives together. Grown up together. Explored together. If I pick this scab. It will never heal.

The elephant is a pretty hefty creature. But when it moves, there is light. It gives me space so I can ask myself:

Do I love my husband? Yes, yes I do.

Am in love with him? Hmm. Honestly? No. Not at the moment.

Could I be again? Yes, I think so. Given time.

Where to from here? Denial? Die trying? A bit of both. Half a life is too long to give up on. While there is light, there is hope. We might just have to live with a trunky bedfellow for a little bit longer. Until we find it a bed of its own…

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Trudi Bishop

Trudi Bishop

Kiwi by birth but not always by nature. Spent most of my adult life in the UK. I’ve landed back in NZ, a stranger in a familiar land. Trying to figure this out.