"Looking for an Exit?"
Updated: Jan 23
When my husband and I were first married, we rented a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Oxon Hill, MD. I was still in the Army at that time and I worked with a few fellow soldiers who lived in this same, newly-remodeled apartment complex. The apartment community sat right across the street from what seemed like a well-known mall. The model apartment the landlord showed us was beautiful, complete with new carpet ,and reeked of that new home smell. Our apartment was no different. It was just as beautiful and smelled just as new.
We'd secured a one-bedroom apartment before we learned we were expecting our first child. By the time we moved in, we already had plans to purchase a brand new home in a safe, family-oriented, recently developed neighborhood. We just needed to wait out our time on the lease and look for homes while we were renting.
My husband and I were big Kool-Aid drinkers! I liked the blue flavored drink and Byron liked the red, strawberry flavored one. However, those "new-fangled, sugar is already included in the powder" drinks weren't for me. I liked to make my Kool-Aid the old-fashioned, old school way . . . Pour the powder into a pitcher, follow up with a little more sugar than the recipe called for, add some cold tap water, and then stir like your life depended upon it. Don't make the mistake of stirring your Kool-Aid with a metal spoon, though. I really don't have a reason why you shouldn't make this epic blunder other than metal does something really distasteful to the Kool-Aid.
One evening, I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. As our first child was growing along, I would wake up several times during the night. This particular time, I was a bit parched. After waking and using the bathroom . . . very gently . . . I turned the light on and sauntered into our kitchen for a quick swig of red Kool-Aid. Then I saw it. It was the first thing I saw when the kitchen light came on. There it was in plain view: a red, Kool-Aid stain was sprawled out on our new kitchen counter just begging me to curse it out. My kitchen forensics told me \the spill was fairly new since it was still wet and a little sticky to the touch. I couldn't believe that my new husband, the father of the child I was carrying in my womb, had committed this cardinal sin! It took maybe one minute to wipe up the red Kool-Aid and he just looked at it, let it sit there, turned the light off, and went to bed? You gotta be kidding me!
I started crying. I wanted out. "Someone, find me a divorce lawyer!"
Over a little stain on the kitchen? Well first of all, it wasn't that little. But yes, I was going to call it quits between my husband and myself. I absolutely could not be married to a man who couldn't clean up behind himself.
The real truth is, every little thing that seemed even the least bit out of order or not up to my personal standards would send me running to "Divorce Court." I was ALWAYS on the edge of leaving my husband. In all actuality, it wasn't even the incidents that sent me running; it was my view of marriage that guided my path and sent me on that journey.
I watched my mother leave my father. She drove from Florida to Ohio in a green Chrysler, with two young girls and a cute little chihuahua named Snoopy in the back seat. Mom literally drove us through a hurricane. Yes, we had help here and there from family members, but my mother was the one who held it down for us. She worked hard, even working two jobs at one time, and made sure we were raised well. Kim and I earned good grades, participated in athletics, and even enjoyed a level of popularity. My mother? She never really spent much time hanging out with friends or members of the opposite sex. In fact, I can only remember her going on two dates. Both of them turned out to be Grade A losers.
The three of us, Mom, my sister and I cooked together; we cleaned house together to the song stylings of Al Green on Saturday mornings; moved furniture around when we wanted to re-decorate; and we daily took out the trash when it began to overflow. And my mother wasn't afraid to go under the hood of our car either, honey! Although I don't ever remember hearing Mom say it, I heard plenty of other women sing that ole' faithful hymn: "I Don't Need A Man!" I didn't believe I needed one either, regardless of how badly I may have wanted one. We were a high-functioning, well-able, family trio without one drop of testosterone in our home. We were good just they way we were!
I walked into my marriage looking for the "Exit." I always kept it in my foresight. The moment he screwed up, I was going to walk through that door and never look back. If my mother could live the single life, if she could find happiness and success after divorce, then so could I. Heck! Women all over the globe were raising successful children without the help of their spouses. If I had to, I could and would do the same. No man was gonna hold me back or hold me down . . . EVER!
"Girl, 'you stupid.'"
If you enter a marriage looking for the exit doors, you will eventually find them. Exits are provided in marriage and are even biblically allowable under certain circumstances, but exiting a marriage is never pleasant or easy, and is often unnecessary.
I once heard a man of God say the most important thing in marriage is commitment. Everything on the inside of me stood up in protest. "No, no, NO! LOVE is the utmost important thing. PERIOD!" There was no way on this earth that commitment could be more important than love in a marriage. But it's true. He was right. Loving someone really doesn't take that much work, but being committed and remaining committed requires effort – continual effort. Without it, you can still be in love with each other while living separate, miserable lives on opposite sides of the globe. Who wants that?
If you entered your marriage looking for an exit, how about searching for the STOP sign instead? STOP looking for the easy way out. STOP viewing your marriage as something disposable or replaceable. STOP listening to old wives' sayings. Just STOP. Take a breath and settle down for a minute. Count to 10 if you have to. And then go to YouTube, Pandora or whatever streaming venue you prefer and search for the song, "And I am Telling You, I'm Not Going." Select the original version by Jennifer Holiday, of course, and blast it through every speaker in your house. If this song doesn't help you, I don't know what will! Re-commit yourself to the process of growing together in marriage. This is not a sprint. It's not even a marathon. It's an endless, worldwide tour where you will discover new things about each other, even in the most unique of places; but there's nothing like experiencing new things and new places with the one you love.
And STOP listening to that ole' "I Don't Need a Man!" stuff. Here's a little secret: A lot of the women who say they don't need a man, would stop saying that if they had one.