Waiting for the Levees to Break

I recently viewed a Facebook video post showing a girl who, at first, celebrates how great her life had been in recent times. She points out how things were flowing so smoothly – her friendships were good, her relationship with God was growing, and her health was blossoming. Then, she loudly proclaims, “All of a sudden, [someone] comes along and fucks shit up…”

My mom, sisters, and I shared a few laughs over this video. Such a pretty girl with everything going for her was having such a hard time coping with the fact that nothing lasts forever…especially happiness. While her pain was comedic, going from complete happiness to anger to sadness in just a matter of seconds, I find myself drawn to the video, watching it over and over, laughing at her sudden and random outburst and how it ultimately turns into crying at her own overwhelming anger. But truthfully, there is something about the video that seems rather cautionary…

…It cautions of a time when everything in my marriage is wonderful, yet something comes along and turns the tide. I am dreading the day when the levees will break and the happiness of my marriage will come crashing down on me.

The possibilities play like movie scenes in my head. I imagine one and then the other. I imagine stumbling across an inappropriate exchange between my husband and another woman, maybe in the form of a text message on a misplaced cell phone or perhaps a private email accidentally left on a computer screen that was not logged out. I sometimes picture that he breaks news to me of an affair in a more civil way – asking me to sit down so he can tell me bad news, hoping that I react with patience and understanding as opposed to anger and rage. One of the possibilities I imagine is that the bad news I get won’t even be about an affair but about secrets on another level – that he is a criminal, a drug dealer, or a drug user completely unbeknownst to me. I oftentimes wonder what I would do if I were presented with one of those stories you hear about on daytime talk shows that are too ridiculous to be real. I put myself in those women’s shoes – you know, the ones who are sitting on the stage unsuspectingly waiting for their boyfriend, fiance, or husband to come out and drop some devastating news in their laps. What would I do or say if my husband told me he had numerous affairs, fell in love with another woman and wanted a divorce, had a secret family that he had been supporting, or was involved in some sort of deviant behavior that could come with a prison sentence? How would I feel? How would I handle the situation?

I can only imagine that I would be just as devastated as those women on the shows. Not only would the tears fall and the feelings of betrayal and insecurity overtake me, but I’m sure I would also feel a sense of bittersweet remorse. That I had given my heart to a man who would crush it so senselessly. That I had been such a fool to even entertain the idea that happiness could last always.

Is it inevitable that the levees in my marriage – the communication, the trust, the dependency, the love – won’t be strong enough to hold the relationship together? There are so many couples that don’t stay together whose marriages don’t last. Those people were once loving couples who tried to make it work, but their efforts weren’t enough. The percentage of married couples who get divorced is over 50%, and it’s growing. Have I underestimated the probability of having trials and how those trials could devastate my own marriage?

Even when I am not daydreaming such horrible thoughts, I am sometimes overtaken by such a overwhelming feeling of helplessness. There are other possibilities that I sometimes think of. I imagine that late in the night I will open my door to police officers coming to deliver tragic news of my husband being seriously injured or killed in a car crash. Or maybe that news will come in the form of a late night phone call from an emergency room doctor, friend, or family member. When my husband leaves home to go on a trip or just meet a friend at a bar, my mind sometimes runs wild thinking that I could have said goodbye to him for the last time. If those situations ever came to pass, life as I know it would be over.

Or am I just being paranoid for no reason? Are these thoughts just some form of self-torture that I can’t seem to control?

I had more people warning me against getting married than I had encouraging me to do it. Those people, while they seemed so unhappy and desperate about their current situation, left such a vivid impression on me. They have me convinced that devastation is lurking around dark corners, waiting on a moment of complete happiness before it jumps out at me – surprising me into the tears, betrayal, insecurity, and remorse that I mentioned earlier.

How do I prevent this moment from happening?

Currently, I am praying…

I pray to God in an effort to wrap my marriage in blessings. I pray that He directs my husband’s actions and thoughts in the way that He would have my husband go. I also pray that our levees stay strong and not break – that even when they seem to form cracks and crevices that God will grant me patience to deal with those small trivial issues in our marriage in an effort to prevent them from growing into large confrontations. I pray that He keeps providing us with the strength we need to tackle any obstacles. I pray that God pushes naysayers out of our way so that we don’t hear the doubt and negativity they so readily spout in our direction. I pray that God orders my husband’s choices and fades his temptations so that nothing stands in his way of making clear and logical decisions.

I am also living in the moment…

No one wants to live in fear. No one wants to feel as though they live underneath a cloud. I push down those thoughts of helplessness and force my mind to flash to a good memory – my husband’s smile, his kiss, his embrace, our wedding day, his gestures, his kindness. That momentary positivity is enough to bring me out of the funk and into a happy place – where we are strong and there’s no sign of trouble lurking in the distance. I work on approaching my husband with understanding and love rather than hatred and worry. I remember that God put my husband into my life, and He would not have done so if we weren’t able to make this marriage work.

Even as I write this blog, I wonder if the lesson to be learned here is that the levees will break…

…they always break, don’t they?

Has anyone ever experienced a marriage that didn’t?

Perhaps the key is not focusing on whether it breaks…but how much?

After all, even a crack is a break in the foundation – in the strength of the structure. But a crack doesn’t mean there will be a devastating flood. Every crack can be found. Every crack can be patched – better yet – fixed.

Maybe I should stop dreading the moment when the levees break and be content knowing that when they break, my husband and I will be just fine. We will be okay, and we will be prepared to fix the cracks when they begin to form.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12 New International Version

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