Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

Marriage Problems by Jan Beiler

Monday, March 21st, 2011

“Watch out!” I sat rigid in the mama’s seat of our GMC van as we rounded yet another sharp bend in the road. I felt edgy and disagreeable and I wished Phil would slow down.

He looked at me with mock pain and said, “Why, honey, don’t you trust me?” Normally I would have laughed and shot back something like, “All except your driving.” But today I was in no frame of mind to banter.

“What time does your bus leave?” I asked, voice flat, eyes straight ahead.

Phil glanced at his watch. “It leaves at ten twenty. We’re already half way to Chihuahua so we should make it in plenty of time.”

If we don’t crash over the bank, I thought morosely.

Phil hummed a snatch of song as we sped downhill, turned a sharp curve and crossed a narrow bridge. I grasped the door handle and bit my lip.

I knew the problem wasn’t his driving. That was nothing new. I’d had an accident as a teenager when the road ahead of me made an unexpected turn and I’ve been an unreasonable passenger ever since. Most times I try to regulate myself but I didn’t want to this morning.

It irked me that he was taking the cell phone on this trip. People do take cell phones when they travel. I knew that and I also knew I was childish to mind. But I did mind. That cell phone was our only means of communication and now Phil was getting ready to bus out to El Paso and take a plane to Canada. He’d be far from his home responsibilities, sitting through inspiring messages at minister’s meetings, and visiting with people from all over the nation.

In the meantime, I would be at home with all the children. At home in our humdrum little village, without even so much as a cell phone connection with the big world. He won’t need it to call me because he can’t, I told myself. It’s just an accessory. I could picture him sitting in the airport terminal calling the 800-555-Tell and listening to the weather. THE WEATHER mind you! The thought annoyed me. You can look outside and see the weather.

I hated feeling guilty about missing the cell phone, and I vaguely perceived the cell phone wasn’t the real issue either. For one thing, I had to climb the hill to get a signal, and I probably wasn’t going to have much time for that while he was gone. Still, I couldn’t quite identify what the real issue was.

I could tell Phil was eager for the trip. He acted like he didn’t notice my ill-humor but that’s one thing about Phil. He’s always the same. And he always believes the best about me, even when I don’t deserve it. Which I didn’t.

At the bus station, Phil stopped at the curb and unloaded his luggage. “ I’ll just tell you ‘good-bye’ here and you won’t have to park and come inside. It’s almost time for me to board anyway.”

My heart should have melted at his thoughtfulness but it didn’t. I gave him a stiff little hug and bid him adieu. I knew something could happen to him but I didn’t think it would.

With my poor mindset it’s amazing things went as well as they did the week Phil was gone.

The children built a tree house down over the bank behind our house using scraps from Phil’s building project to make a platform. They nailed slabs of wood to the trunk for steps and found tattered cowboy boots in the trash heap to nail to branches for decoration. One evening we packed a picnic supper of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bought Cokes and chips from Rita’s store to eat in the tree house. To be perfectly honest, even buying the Cokes wasn’t so much for the children’s sake as for me, because I thought I deserved them.

And that set me to thinking. I deserved the Coke because I stayed home with the children. I deserved the cell phone because I wasn’t getting a vacation. And yet, I hadn’t even wanted to go to minister’s meeting. So what was wrong with me? What did I want?

I mulled that over for awhile and then I knew. I wanted him to say, “I know it’s not going to be easy for you while I’m gone but thank you for being willing to do it.” Maybe he could even say, “You’re a brave womanIn plain English, what I wanted was recognition.

Then I wondered how much recognition I had given to him. Dear, good, patient Phil. Hardworking, unassuming Phil, who always treats me with respect. Those last days before his trip had been hectic for him. He was trying to get the house he was remodeling in good enough shape that the lady of the house wouldn’t have to climb over the china closet to get to the kitchen sink while he was gone.

And in Mexico everything has to be done the round-about way. If you try to hurry it only makes it worse. In spite of that pressure, he’d made sure there was a new tank of LP gas for our kitchen range and had fixed the latch on the back door to make our house more secure. Had I in any way applauded him?

One can always hope for tomorrow.

When we arrived at the bus station for Phil’s return trip, he was nowhere to be seen. I walked around the terminal trying to figure out if there was another section where he could be. Finally, after alternately pacing back and forth and perching on hard station chairs I spied him far down the corridor, walking toward me… talking on his cell phone.

The relief from my anxiety choked on the cell phone and for just an instant I felt my body stiffen. Until I remembered. I have a choice.

“I’m so glad you’re home,” I said, taking his hand. “We’ve missed you!”

His eyes lit up. “I’m glad to be home.”