Monday, November 14, 2005

The Art of Marriage

My first marriage drove me crazy. Literally. Married for ten years, and in therapy for the same ten years. You don't even have to read between the lines. Six weeks after I said "I will" or "I do" (who can remember these things), I was crying to a therapist wondering what the hell I had willed or done. I tried for ten years, but my husband, the film-maker photographer of the family, finally crushed whatever remaining spirit I had. It was over.
Monday morning before the sun
It is hard to remember all the specific little things that make a bad marriage, but the one that stands out after all these years, is that my husband did not want me to succeed. Any success I managed to eke out was somehow an affront to his very existence. I was a straight-A student in college, and every superlative heaped upon me by my professors drew his ire, angst, bitterness, competition, and contempt. He was not conscious of his malignancy; it just grew in him silently like all cancers do. He did not set out to undermine my progress, but he pulled the rug out from under me every chance he could. We moved every year for ten years. In my senior year, I dropped out of college so we could go to one of the most expensive cities in the country where he could dabble like a dilettante in freelance video production. I was the one who responsibly found employment and paid our rent. I was admitted to Berkeley for my senior year as an out-of-state student. This was quite unusual for them, but they waived some of their restrictions and requirements to admit me. It was thrilling. I met the chair of anthropology department. He welcomed me. I never stepped a foot in a classroom there. We moved to Arizona instead.

You get the picture.

Sun not yet over the horizon
For ten years, I never picked up the camera at our house. I never arranged the furniture, hung a picture on the wall, or grew a flower. He was the photographer. He had the visual sense, the art, the inner dream that needed expression. If there was pain or joy, it was his, and I was merely a part of it. There was only one dreamer permitted in our marriage, and it would never be me.
First light on the tall trees
So, it is more than gratifying to know that some of the things that I photograph move you. It is truly enlivening and exhilarating for me. I have not been in therapy for seventeen years, and I have not described all of the things that make a marriage fail. I hope that our blog describes some of the things that make a marriage work.

1 comment:

  1. I had never read this before. so sorry to imagine your living in that environment, but it sounds like you learned a lot. you picked quite well the next time, didn't you? :) yes, we do know a lot about the joys you and roger find together and the sustaining support and respect in your marriage which wraps you both in love. so glad you found each other!