Marriage Moats- How Much is Too Much?

Published: Wed, 08/12/15

Marriage Moats

Caring for Marriage

How Much is Too Much?
Photo: Joy Feerrar  
There are a fistful of days that stand out in the drone of ordinary life. Today is one of those days.

Benjamin's anxiety has become increasingly weighty for our family and last night I reached a tipping point. I insisted we head to the ER. John was reluctant but as much as I was unsure about what the repercussions would be, I knew we had to go. In affirmation the twins were wearing the shirts from their sister with the logo about stepping into the unknown. 

"The really crazy thing would be to do nothing."

Benjamin came compliantly enough, sitting back in the third seat, rather than the front passenger one, as is his wont. I guess he had a premonition that change was emerging.

The process for admitting a person to a crisis center is probably never speedy but this one took three hospitals and seventeen hours. I suppose if it births us into a new pattern of interaction that will seem no more lengthy than a first labor. He is signed and sealed for three days, with a likelihood of more. In that time he will be constrained in a routine of art therapy, medication, social groups and anger management. Visitations or phone calls from siblings are forbidden, as are shoe strings and belts. If he obeys all the rules he can choose a reward, like soap or candy. I wonder what he will pick.

The rest of us are frothy with emotions.... guilt, exhaustion, relief, concern. A friend brought comfort food and a hug. Two kids lay sacked on living room surfaces. But there will be no screaming tonight, or the next night, or the next. That sounds like music to me. 

I went at visiting time to take him fresh clothes. He held up his pants with his hands, and flopped in laceless shoes. I asked how he was feeling.

"I'm not sure." 

As I drove away the rain subsided, and the sky was split between nimbus black and promising blue. Then I saw it. A rainbow arched across them both, as if trying to unite them in its embrace. I thought of the two Bens, the sunny one, and the dark one. 

Families of necessity must face decisions like How much is too much? It could be an addiction, or dissent, or chaos, or debt. But all of us are entangled in relationships that ask more of us than we are inclined to give. 

In the wrenching act of giving it, we are reborn.