Quiet desperation

As my sixth wedding anniversary approaches, I'm inspired to reflect on a couple of model and not-so-model marriages in my life.  And I am truly humbled and thankful for the man whom I married.  He is the best husband I never imagined for myself.  Intelligent, patient, disciplined, understanding, compassionate, and most of all full of integrity.     

They say 50 percent of marriages end in divorce -- most likely, an urban legend. What of the other actual 66 percent (or at least those that don't end in divorce)? As my mind's eye takes a random sample of family and friends, I suspect some of the women (and men too) live marriages of quiet desperation.

Silent hopelessness. It's feeling despair, but going on with your life, never letting on that you're feeling it. Living a life of "quiet desperation" means the feeling people get from simply going with the flow and doing what is expected of them in order to fit in and pay the bills, without ever exploring what it is they truly want out of life.  They know there's something wrong, but they're too polite to complain and too busy to think about it much.  Or perhaps they understand that they've made a commitment to another person, children, to their family. And after so many years, whatever affection they don't experience in their five-, fiftteen-, or thirty-year marriage, they are left to happen upon elsewhere . . . else someone.  That a woman -- a wife and mother -- would live in quiet desperation as her husband berates her through the decades overwhelms me. While there may be no physical abuse, day after day, week after week, month after month or year after year of spousal rebuke . . . can leave someone emotionally drained (I can only imagine).  No doubt there may be husbands or partners who have experienced similar journeys.

For those who have lived lives of quiet desperation and have found freedom in new loves . . . with discerning respect . . . 
by artist Lorna Robertson

heart's desire at twenty-something
loses its way in the clouds
no sunlight
bound by commitment to culture, to partner, to family
no way out of the overcast

heart's desire at fifty-something
loses its way into someone else's heavens
the slightest silver lining
breaks through muted melancholy
shrouded Sibylline lingers lovingly
in promising pentecost