My wife is a mean spirited woman. I say it quite dispassionately. My former wives were mean spirited women too, so I’m not really singling her out.
While I was with my first wife, I was still a young man, and so was inclined to be rather mean spirited myself. Back then I fought fire with fire. Things ended up getting burned. Never build your house on a bed of coals.
By the time I married my second wife I had begun to develop a philosophy of compassion and self-sacrifice. It was a philosophy heavily influenced by Jesus Christ. I embraced the notion that love, if shown with patience and as far as possible without condition, would be sufficient to defeat all evils of all sorts. I was wrong. Or perhaps the love itself did succeed, and it was just the marriage that failed.
Two years into the third time around I simply admit to being at a loss. More and more I am persuaded that just getting out and cutting losses would be the most prudent course. But when has the course of love ever been given to taking the course of prudence?
One thing that has always left me dumbfounded is how the women I have known have seemed to believe that they could say the most outrageously unkind things, make the most damning, hateful statements, yet later be able to pretend that it never happened!
I think now of employing the same sort of harshness in a counterattack, and yet I cannot bear the thought, it makes me cringe to imagine it. Why would I want to willfully inflict pain, especially at the cost of my own integrity, and at the cost of our strength and trust together? I don’t know. Why would they? Why do they?
In the end I find myself alone on the battlefield, with only my own pride to face. And I know not what is best anymore—to bury pride, or to embrace it. I have, after all, already tried both, and neither has made so much as a dint in the woman’s steely armor.
I guess the good thing about being older, and having already gone through the mill a few times, is that this sort of stuff is not the end of the world, as it used to seem. It’s just another mile on the road, another day. You begin to see life as a process of a general failure to thrive. You are no longer surprised to find that love is not pure, or often even very loving. What is most precious, and what has been most coveted, even from the earliest day, was a dream all along—and that, at least, has not changed.
Perfection does not reflect itself perfectly, for a splash as occurred in consciousness, way, way back in the beginning. Now there are ripples, now the waters move and are dotted with rain or nudged by the wind. What is the answer but to look up as often as you can remember to, to avert your heart from a world that is in a constant wavering toward chaos, and fix again upon the dream that is eternal?