Amicus Usque Ad Aras
“I do not envy married couples, I simply envy all married couples together; and even when I do envy one couple only, it is the happiness of married life in general, in all its infinite variety, that I envy - the happiness to be found in any one marriage, even in the likeliest case, would probably plunge me into despair.” Franz Kafka, Diaries, October 17, 1921
Life is not easy. Marriage is hard. Relationships take work. My marriage has been hard. My husband and I have both contributed to the good times and the bad times. As an alcoholic, I have wanted to run and get away from the pain and chaos of the bad times. When my thoughts were overrun by emotions and then further clouded by the pall of alcohol I wanted to bolt! Emotionally I got to a point where I just could not handle the difficult times. His way was not to acknowledge problems and my way was to run. Either way, we did not communicate. I hate to say that it took something as dramatic as my alcoholism and our being on the verge of divorce to get us to a place where we both realized that no matter what we will never again allow our marriage to be a casualty of our emotions or the lack thereof. The first ten years of our marriage were great! We had fun, we lived life, we were on the exciting track that most young couples find themselves. We bought a house, we started our family, we had great friendships, we did fun things and had fulfilling careers. Life was what we had imagined. Then, life became hard. Life became life, and it was not fun anymore. It had ups and downs, but there came a point where we both thought we had not signed up for this. But, we did sign up for this. When we married in January of 1988, we repeated important words of commitment to each and we vowed to be together if we were sick or if we were healthy, if we had money or if we did not have money and if times were good or if times were bad. We would stay together. We didn’t qualify our vows by saying:
I will stay with you if you keep things fun and easy and exciting and fresh or if we don’t have financial worries. We didn’t say, you can count on me if you don’t get sick, and you don’t throw any curve balls or if you don’t make any mistakes or gain a few pounds. If you will do all I have envisioned for this life then, you’ve got me forever. If you get all of this right, then, til death do us part. No, we didn’t put conditions on our commitment to each other. I forgot how great it is to be married to your best friend. I forgot that no matter what, we started with a bond and commitment which we built and even when we thought it could be dissolved, it could not. Even when we wanted to dissolve our marriage, we asked ourselves, why. We remembered that we are better together than we are apart. We have the variety of the love, fun, fury, misery, anger, excitement and trust. It is not as exciting and new as it once was but thank God for that. Through recovery I have the clarity and I no longer desire the emotional excitement that the beginning of our relationship brought us. I want the mundane of our commitment, because only with this commitment do we have a real honesty and trust which leads to all kinds of excitement that only two committed people can share. This is not an indictment on divorce nor an admonishment on the sanctity of marriage; this is a reminder for me that my marriage is as good as it gets. Recovery is giving me the clarity to understand that when life gets uncomfortable, the only place I must run is directly back to my commitment. Even if we have separate dreams and visions, we are together. I would be envious of such craziness and chaos we call our marriage because even when we are at our worst, we are together, and this usually brings out our best. In 1988 I had the phrase inscribed inside my husband’s wedding band, “amicus usque ad aras.” I am going to keep that promise and be his friend and his wife until the very end.