Monday, August 27, 2007

The inner sanctum

Do we ever really know what takes place inside of a relationship, even our own? What lies behind a marriage is mysterious to me, and seems untouchable. I rarely write about the inner sanctum of my own marriage here, mostly for the fear of messing it up somehow. I pinch myself regularly to have been married for fifteen years. My "relationships" before meeting my husband could best be described as molehills, or trainwrecks. They were either much ado about nothing, or blood and guts. Meeting my husband was such a whiff of fresh air that in the early years of our relationship, I was sure that this air would fizzle out. That's what it had always done before.

My marriage is a mystery to me. What keeps it going forward, and without any real agony. My marriage has been one of the things in my life that has lead me to believe in a sort of destiny, or karma. This mystery is something I tread on lightly. Why fix it if it isn't broken? But our recent move from my husband's homeland to my own has added a new wrinkle to this mystery. Where once I was the foreigner, now it is my husband who is the straniero. This brings with it a diffferent set of roles and rules that we are both grappling with. As any of my regular readers have probably gleaned from my writing, I am a bit of a spoiled brat, and I regularly make ample use of my husband's broad shoulders. When I first arrived in Italy so many years ago, I remember the terror, or comedy, of doing just about everything. I got through those years by leaning heavily on my husband, and now I am trying valiantly to offer him the same support.

But my husband and I are different creatures. Men and women are different creatures. He is fiercely independent, one of the things I love about him dearly. So he is plowing forward alone, the eternal lone ranger, dust in his wake.

I wish he would let me help him more.

One thing I have learned about marriage is to let things ebb and flow. Relationships have seasons that are eternally changing. Relationships have peaks and valleys.

In between is the inner sanctum. The part we don't talk about.


cathouse teri said...

A tough obstacle. He's used to being the strong one. Much harder for a man to be weak and be the needy one. You're doing well to remain aware of this. He will need constant reasurrance that he is still providing the strength.

Tricky, tricky business. :)

All the best to ya, sweetie.

Carol said...

Like all your other posts, this one has such wonderful energy -- calm, insightful, and truthful.

I have never written about the "inner sanctum" of my marriage on my blog because... well, because I'm at a loss. The inner sanctum echoes...


Farfallina - Roam 2 Rome said...

That picture is simply beautiful, and your post insightful and from the heart :)

I'm not married, but I was engaged to marry a man from Norway. Men and women are so different, but when we come from different sides of the ocean... things get more "complex", beautiful, but intricate and "mysterious", isn't it?

anno said...

Writing about "the inner sanctum"... very brave. I've often held that a working marriage is a mystery that does not hold up well to analysis. Kind of like thinking about walking.

Beautiful post, and good luck navigating this tricky new territory.

jen said...

i really agree with this....the mystery of the hidden fabric holding us together.

this was lovely.

Brillig said...

My husband grew up about half an hour away from me. And yeah... we still feel like we're from opposite ends of the planet a lot of the time! I can't imagine actually BEING from opposite worlds, the way you two are. You're handling it all perfectly--of COURSE! I love your idea of the ebb and flow of marriage. That really speaks to me. Beautiful post!

Jen said...

My mom said something brilliant once:

"It's just important NOT to talk about your relationship too much."

At the time I felt she was being old-fashioned and unenlightened. She didn't mean you couldn't talk about it with your friends or whatever (although moderately, of course) but she did mean that spending too much time squinting at it was a waste of time and heart. Talk about things to overcome, do differently, fine, but you're right... that inner sanctum is something that should be felt rather than spelled out too distinctly, I think.

Kataroma said...

Very nice post. It must be very strange for your husband to suddenly be the straniero.

I feel the same way about my relationship - impossible to explain.

sognatrice said...

I *love* Rodin--lived across the street from the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia for 3 years...not a bad location ;)

And I love this post. You say so much without saying too much--and that, cara, is both impressive and inspiring.

Rebecca said...

Fascinating , though, I bet, to see your husband in this new role. A fresh take on your relationship - how wonderful!

jennifer said...

Thanks to all for your observations. I like the tricky business analogy alot. That's a perfect description. I also really like Jen"s mother's advice. So, so true!
I was nervous about writing this stuff, but I am trying to "let it all hang out here." Thanks to all for making that a bit easier!

cathouse teri said...

Oh, I forgot to tell you. When I was in high school (in Utah), I was in an art class. One of our assignments was to go get something ceramic and paint it in class. So I went to a ceramic store (in Utah) and bought a little copy of THAT statue (in Utah)! And I took it to high school class (in Utah) and happily painted it antique gold!

I dunno what happened to it, though. I am always leaving things behind.

It's amazing I was able to raise children and never lose one! (Or did I?)

Fourier Analyst said...

I would be moved to jealousy if I didn't know exactly what you mean! But know that he too is as resilient as you are and it is "tempering" that makes steel stronger! I love how your writing manages to capture the poetic flavor of your romance!

Gunfighter said...

"Relationships have seasons that are eternally changing. Relationships have peaks and valleys."


The Passionate Palate said...

Jennifer - this is my first visit to your blog, but not my last (found you through Bleeding Espresso).

Insightful post on marriage. Oddly enough, I am married to an Italian too but we have always lived in the U.S. Even though he has lived here for 26 years, he still relies on me heavily to help him negotiate the intricacies of American life. We talk about moving to Italy all the time, but I worry that he wouldn't have the patience to do the same for me there. I guess it does boil down to the fact that we are all different and handle these situations uniquely. Very intersting to read your thoughts on it, though. Thank you.