A good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude. ~Rainer Maria Rilke
I've been married a long time. "A long time" is definitely a subjective notion. I grew up in a divorced house, making my marriage seem long. My grandparents, on the other hand, were married for over 60 years. They literally lived and died together.
I never thought I would get married. I always thought that I would have children, but the marriage part of the family equation seemed a bad fit. Being married for 15 years continues to surprise me. It feels as if I must be talking about someone else, someone more stable and committed, more dedicated to the whole idea of marriage.
Being married has been hard for me of late. It's one of the reasons that I haven't been writing much, I think, as if laying down the words somehow moves me into dangerous, uncharted waters. And writing here is scary, and takes a modicum of bravery every time I do it. I've gone through these moments before. I should remember that.
Our move away from Italy has had many unexpected challenges and successes. It has been a journey of chance, and each day I am more convinced that I did the right thing. I cannot say the same for my husband. His reaction to stepping into a different world, as a citizen, not a traveler, for this is a very big distinction, has been hard, hard, hard. It may be because he is a man. It may be because he is Italian. It may be because he is proud. It is probably all of these. Is it that women are more resilient and adaptable to change? The majority of the expat blogs I read are women who have transplanted themselves into other cultures. I'm not so sure this is because of the stereotypical idea that the woman always follows the man. Could the woman actually be stronger, more able to adapt, more willing to feel a fool half the time?
And the intense culture gap, like a fault line between us, has never felt so enormous. My very way of thinking is foreign to him sometimes, and I realize how much our surroundings can camouflage our true selves.
I grew up thinking I wanted to be alone. I find myself slipping into fantasies of just that, remembering when I was untethered to any man. Fantasies are fantasies, they are not real. But it scares me all the same. Just as writing all of this down scares me. And so I wait.