I joined the gamer widow ranks but a month ago, stumped on how to proceed with my husband being “gone” so often that the “widow” title seemed fitting. This was not to say we weren’t in love. We were. In fact, we were still so in love that I would sometimes catch myself in the very process of memory-making and think, ” This is what it’s all about, we have it, it’s here”. Lack of love was not the problem. The problem came when this enjoyment of such moments was eclipsed by the fear that the sun would go down with these “lovers” in separate rooms.
In reading and listening to the experiences of those in similar situations I began to believe the only route to peace-keeping was acceptance; tolerance; and “letting go” of the hope…and sometimes resentment. I looked inward, certain there were changes I could make that would will him to change, will him to act . Each strategy seemed to make his fortress of retreat more necessary for his survival. In even approaching him I began to envision him peering at me through a small, sliding port-hole of a large door with inspecting eyes which begged, “What do you want?” If I then made clear my intentions were only to demonstrate my affection, find out what he wanted for dinner, or tell him a story…the 1-foot thick door would be pulled open slowly and I would enter, tip-toeing over literal eggshells to hug him and settle down in his company. However, if instead he heard, “We need to talk” through the peep-hole, the slide was closed and the reply given, “Go ahead!” through the door. And I would. I’d “go ahead” even though I knew he couldn’t hear me. He was somewhere deep inside his creation; his stronghold of defence, feigning listening badly. It was this imagining that led me to talk with someone else. Someone wall-less for a start.
Everyone will have their own brand and type of support system; the people they turn to. I found mine, and went there. 4 hours and a waste-basket of tissues later I felt justified in my concern. I was willing to make sacrifices to have more than just a marriage, I wanted an awe-inspiring marriage, and I knew then that it wasn’t wrong to want that. I drove home rehearsing my request that he think about “sacrifice”, and whether he’d factored that into a successful marriage. I planned to explain how “compromise” sometimes isn’t enough…that if something is truly destructive it just doesn’t make sense to say, “Just a little bit? Please?” To explain how the bed was cold and the stone fortress was really not in harmony with the feng-shui of our home. 30 minutes of rehearsing, and 32 kilometres later I was home. Target: Stone fortress hidden inside young-marrieds’ apartment; Mission: Share willingness to work and make more than compromise, but GIVE UP things to make more than a marriage, but a great marriage; Only established game-plan: Don’t say, “We need to talk”.
I don’t remember how it started, and I don’t remember all that was said, but I can recall this:
• I expressed my feelings and hopes for us rather than the reasons why he should quit playing the game;
• I repeated that I loved him and wanted to show that in my actions;
• I begged him to consider my request in a space free of the “wedge” (between us); and
• It hurt.
4 nights of worrying, 2 packets of M&Ms and scores of prayers later the hurting stopped. Location: At the door of my school classroom; Event: A message from the office for the teacher; Contents: “Your husband loves you”. Having heard and seen nothing of the man I love for days (even with the fortress in our lives this was highly painful and unusual), this note dissolved every illusory chain I felt now imprisoned me. I re-entered the classroom and taught two damn good lessons.
I don’t know that it’s necessary to fill in the finer points of how this night ended, but I will list you this:
• The account and game are gone;
• He found a new job; and
• I’m no widow.
I believe each of us lives in unique circumstances and relationships and expects unique things from their relationship. I know we have different methods and ideas about the solution, and even how we perceive the problem we’re attempting to solve.
I can’t advise anyone on what will work for them or what they should want. But I can tell you what I wanted, and what I got, and the three things it took.
I wanted to support my husband in 100% overcoming his addiction. We tried “moderation”, we tried, “I can control it”, we tried it all. I wanted wholesome recreational activities together and apart, I wanted active, affordable, reasonable activities with consequences in the real world; fitness / a stronger marriage / skills / peace of mind…instead of “hand-eye-coordination” and “friends” who are 90% likely to be in some way something other than who they say they are.
I got it. I have it. I love it.
WHAT IT TOOK:
1. It required hurt for both parties, not anger
FOR ME what made this time different was that I hurt more than ever. Every other “discussion” was dominated by anger and his pain. This time was governed by love, expression of willingness to change on my part, and importantly expression of hope that he was willing to do the same.
The results hurt. Both of us. And I feel it had to. Arrows that hamper one’s movement may be painless on piercing our armour, but will tear and bleed on being pulled out. It had to hurt, and it required time and space. What I hadn’t considered was that I needing to be willing to hurt while he figured it out. I believe if I had continued to wear my cape and non-verbally proclaim, “It’s your problem, so you’ll hurt while you give it up and I’ll watch” we would still be arguing. Offering to hurt with him, even if more than I had foreseen, has made all the difference.
2. It required a respected third party
Fishing, away from the distraction of his addiction, with a listening and encouraging friend separate from the situation worked something miraculous. In speaking to this other person since, and telling him of that note I received in class he said, “I’m glad he took my advice”. In asking why he’d made that specific instruction he explained, “I’ve learned that opposition to a happy marriage will creep back in without invitation and with the door of opportunity left only slightly open. In order to ensure there’s no opposition to moving forward the door needs to be closed before the couple even enters the room of reconciliation. I told him he had to do something between now and his seeing you for the first time that would guarantee you hugged when you saw each other, not worked up to a hug.” We hugged.
3. It required believing it could be an awe-inspiring marriage, and shutting up when it looked like it was happening.
A devout perfectionist and romantic, I desperately resisted accepting this was what marriage was about. The moment I conceded that “this was him” and “this was it” I knew I was signing the prophecy of my future for more of the same.
Since that hug I have never raised the subject since. Neither of us has apologised for anything and no one has accepted any blame. The problem is gone, and we’re moving forward. The “me” of two years ago in our marriage would have insisted “sorry’s” were said, accountability was taken, and things were “put in place” to prevent a repeat of the episode. The me of now believes every “nagging” word and every heated “discussion” about the game has been enough. He’s acknowledged his mistakes enough THROUGH HIS ACTIONS (i.e. stopping), I don’t need to hear it. I don’t want to hear it. I want to move on. After all, a “Sorry” isn’t enough, it’s the ACTION I wanted.
I’ve acknowledged my mistakes by giving him the space to work it out. I didn’t run after him when he slept somewhere else and beg him to tell me what he was feeling; insist we talk it out; and come home and play “happy family”. I showed THROUGH MY ACTIONS that I knew my nagging and single-direction talking were only making things worse. For him, my apologies after each “We need to talk” had only sent mixed messages - I wanted him to stop, but then I was sorry for nagging. Finally I said what I felt and hoped for, and then SHUT UP, instead of then blurring my message with apologies.
Space and time have proven him, and I am the happiest and most secure in my marriage I have ever been. If we can get through that, we can get through anything.
The beauty of leaving widow-hood is realising the one we love was never dead at all, but rather was “blinded potential” inside a fortress of defence we think we cannot penetrate. Thus, without death, my husband is neither “re-born” or resurrected, but I have renewed and improved our mutual association, renewed our willingness to make sacrifices for each other, and renewed the reasons why we “signed up” for an eternity of each other’s company in the first place.
See you in the forums,
- The Katipo
Submitted by: The Katipo