“Hey babe?” I lean back in my chair to catch my husband Kyle’s eye as he walks towards the back room. “Can we talk for a second?”
I am tucked away at the desk in the far corner of our dining room. My green leather journal is still in hand and my laptop open from the online therapy session that ended minutes before.
“Okaaay—” he draws out the word as if he hopes in the time it takes to get from O to Y, I won’t notice that he’s darted out the door. I can’t help but smile at his reticence. In his defense, this isn’t the first time this week I’ve pulled us both away from our work to contemplate the finer points of our marriage.
“How’s it going?” Kyle gestures at the laptop and squeezes my shoulder. “Do you feel like you’re making progress?”
“I’m not sure,” I say, truthfully. “But it feels good to talk about it.”
“It” in this case is one of our marriage’s most essential questions. Nearly a year into a pandemic that upended my work, my life, and my sense of self, I’ve also been wrestling through how a city girl and farm boy ended up building a life together. Kyle’s reaction to my analysis—as I combed through old messages and photos from college and asked questions like “How did we get here?”—was one of growing unease. Sensing my husband’s discomfort, I put my hands on both of his shoulders one night and pressed my forehead to his. “Babe, I’m not questioning if we should be together. I just want to remember the things that make us, us.”
But the thing I’ve realized as I’ve sifted through memories and laid out a timeline of our story, is that there’s nothing new about my questions.
Ten years earlier, I shifted uncomfortably in my chair as the pastor’s question hung in the air like a fog.
“What did you picture for your life, Jessica?” the pastor repeated, his eyes kind as he asked the question that cut most deeply into my heart. “How is this different?”
I shot a furtive glance at my then-fiancé Kyle in the chair pushed close to mine. That’s the million-dollar question isn’t it? I felt heat rise into my cheeks. Our first premarital counseling session had been going fine until we started talking about farm life and I blurted out, “Well, it isn’t exactly what I pictured.” Kyle and I were on the same page about finances, core values, number of kids, and our faith. Now, we were at the crux of it all.
“I’m worried about losing myself,” my voice caught in my throat when the words finally tumbled out. I stared at the large bookcase behind the pastor’s desk and blinked back tears.
“I worry that Kyle’s life and dreams will always come before mine.”
Read the rest of my essay over on Coffee + Crumbs.