Dispelling the Dream: What Helps

“I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?”
-Excerpt from A Dream Within A Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
Being in a dying marriage is like being in a dream. There are moments of complete bliss and complete terror. The moments are so erratic that very little makes sense. And the things that do make sense you want to remake into your own understanding to keep them from hurting so much. During this time of limbo in my life I decided to read, and write, and watch. I wanted to hear from the couples that made it through infidelity, and I wanted to hear about the couples that didn’t. I’d either say, “oh that was eerily like my story” or “ohhhh that’s terrifyingly like my story, but no way will we end up like that. We are different. They don’t have as much history–they haven’t loved as long.”
Well, regardless of my musings, I have been fortunate enough to come across excellent books, TED talks, forums, etc. that have really helped me make sense of my marriage and the state of my own heart. Some resources have been more helpful than others, but I personally love reading multiple perspectives and seeing which angles fit my life. When my husband and I were working on reconciliation we did a few self-help activities that I would definitely do in the future with the current willing spouse or other future spouse. And, I just can’t give up. I can’t give up on my own healing and journey, and I can’t give up my dream of one day having a wonderful marriage with a wonderful person. Even with the sorry state of my current marriage I still believe.
Below I will post a list of my favorite books and sources that have helped me dispel the current dream of hope and hell I’m living. Hopefully, others will find these resources helpful.
1. The Holy Bible (preferably ESV) but if that’s not your thing, I get it.
2. Surviving Infidelity: Making Decisions, Recovering from the Pain by Rona B. Subotnik (Author), Gloria Harris (Author)
5. The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference by Shaunti Feldhahn
6. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes and Spencer Smith
TED Talks
1. Why Happy Couples Cheat by Esther Patel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2AUat93a8Q
2. How to Spot a Liar by Pamlea Meyer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_6vDLq64gE
1. http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp
2. http://www.dearpeggy.com/
Not yet read but highly recommended
1. Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley P. Glass and Jean Coppock Staeheli
2. The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7-Step Program for Saving Your Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis
3. Divorce Busting: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again by Michele Weiner-Davis
4. Getting Through to the Man You Love: The No-Nonsense, No-Nagging Guide for Women by Michele Weiner-Davis

The Art of Ache

“Marriage is not a house or even a tent

it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge of the desert

the unpainted stairs at the back where we squat outside, eating popcorn

the edge of the receding glacier

where painfully and with wonder at having survived even

this far

we are learning to make fire”

-Habitation by Margaret Atwood


Marriage is…interesting right? It is bound by culture, religion, and pretty much anything a person can think of; yet, somehow this union, this fusion, (at least in my mind) should make one free, should make one boundless!–ready to take on the world and accomplish everything with their loving and willing partner by their side, of course.

I will get to it then. I have been married for almost three years. I dated my husband on-and-off for four years prior to our engagement, and we have been best friends since the age of 8 (I’m 25 now by the way).

I have found that marriage is much darker, much bleaker, at times than anyone could have possibly ever warned. Prior to getting married, single/divorced/married people would say, “oh it’s hard” “oh its’ tough” “oh you’ll make it through”, but no one went into detail really. After all, where I come from half of the vow is keeping your business to yourself, even if that means you end up more alone in your marriage than you have even been in life. Anyway, no one talked about how something so beautiful on the outside could rot so quickly on the inside. No one talked about the sickly sweet smell of a dying marriage and the pain and soreness those festering wounds would cause.

This is where I am, in the sickly sweet insides of a (dream) marriage deferred. I will get to the story at some later blog post, but I have learned that with the joys of marriage can come at a seemingly high cost for some of us. I cannot say I was not warned, and yet, I sometimes feel bitter that no one opened up to me about the day you find out your husband has been cheating, or the day you look him in the eyes and it feels as if almost three years of marriage and 16 years of friendship have completely disappeared. No, I am pretty sure no one said anything about the pain of laying by the love of your life while they are islands away in spirit. I think if someone had told me that, I would have listened. Surely.

Regardless of what I wish I would have been told or where I wish I was in life, now after months on end of fighting myself, my God, my ideals, I finally let the pillars of my belief fall. Have you ever tried it? It’s a complete crumbling of the innards–of the sense of self. It’s neither fun nor pretty, but it’s pretty damn necessary if you want anything to change. And so, back to the crumbling, falling, and whatnot; I have deemed it The Art of Ache. I am learning to ache in a new way. I am learning that it is awful, but somehow I am still grasping at meaning–I am still grasping at love–and I am still grasping at my husband.

This is my journey. It’s the story you never read. It’s about being in the limbo of a dying marriage. It’s about trying to breathe life into something that has already been decaying. It’s about believing in going against the odds regardless of what that looks like to others. So, here’s my blog. I would say this blog is for the married, unmarried, divorced, etc. I would say that suffering, loss, and sacrifice transcend all of the wonderful identities we shroud ourselves with to feel safe. And I would invite anyone who has ever been in such a painful limbo like “surviving infidelity” to join me in living the art of ache.