How “Lemonade” Saved My Marriage
Ultimately, I have chosen to accept my husband and our marriage with all their flaws. To make lemonade from this sour yellow lemon.
As I write this, my husband and I are in the middle of what is proving to be the hardest time in our 11 years of knowing each other. We have two kids and a house, we are both gainfully employed and, earlier this year, we came to the table to discuss if divorce is really an option for us.
Without disclosing the details (just like Beyonce) of this ongoing fight, it was Lemonade — more than any other source — that helped me process the strong emotions I experienced around deceit, betrayal, disappointment and back again. So, on this anniversary of Lemonade’s release, I would like to take a moment to explore them.
Well, this stage was embarrassing. I was on the phone with a good friend discussing the context around what is going on in my life. Something was amiss. I know that this was a good friend because she simply said, “I know that is not true.” That was all she needed to say to snap me out of my denial. I had been “tasting the dishonesty” for weeks, “pray[ing] he would catch me listening” and decide to stop lying.
And, like water out of a vacuum-sealed mansion, came my anger. I immediately started fucking shit up. First it was physical representations. Took off my rings. I was burned his chicken dinner. Threw photo frames. And then my destruction became more representative. I started to verbally break down my husband. I would say things. Remind him in the nastiest ways, that when he plays me, he plays himself. I was the best thing that ever happened to him, “He was not worthy of my love, of my promise.” I would call him at work just to sign off the conversation to remind him if he tries that shit again he would lose his wife.
I would make mean disparaging comments about his character — all true things, but things that were designed to shatter the windshield of his soul with my Hot Sauce of a tongue. I hoped that if he ever thought to cross me again, he would remember that I had known him since he was 16 years old. I have all of his secrets, and I would ride them through the town on a Monster Truck. Oh, and I was not sorry.
With the waves of anger subsiding, I moved on to the bargaining. I opened up about what was going on to family members. Mostly for advice. Yup, I told my daddy on him. However, in reflection, I was most surprised by the women in my family. Their bargain was a harsh reminder of my privilege. My aunt said, “Back in our day, men used to do what yours did, drink and smoke up all the money, and beat us. And we didn’t leave. We endured.”
As if that were to make me feel better, her own display of female strength. However, my aunt doesn’t drive on the freeway and never went to college or opened her own bank account until her drunk abusive first husband died in her home of cirrhosis of the liver. Our definitions of black female strength will never be the same. I have shown my strength not by enduring, but by making it so marriage is an option for me and a blessing for my partner. No deal.
I did make a series of deals with my husband. To date, he has not made good on any of them. Not because he is trash, but because these are deals that I made. We should have made collaborative goals. That requires some honesty, and we’re not there yet. I would say, “do this, and you can come back in the bedroom.” “Complete that, and I will talk to you.” None of these bargains were worth anything because he was not actually interested in participating. He knew that he wanted to be with me — he could show me that. However, quid pro quo was doing nothing for us. Everything that we built was washed away. I began to lose hope.
It was in my depression that Lemonade was on repeat. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the good times my husband and I had. I gained weight. I would think about the plans we had made, which all seemed like a waste of time and money. My skin was bumping up. I was washing away the sandcastles in my bed with my tears. I gave up my hobbies. I began to have physical manifestations of my depressed state. Recognizing that a depressed mom is no good for her children, I carried my ass to counseling.
My husband got his own type of counseling, since he wouldn’t go with me. He got a second job. He is such a cliche. His emotional and physical absence, tied to my depression, set the cycle in motion again. I was angry. I felt abandoned to experience my pain by myself, since he was gone all the time. Eventually all of his deflectors came tumbling down and he was again left with the only staple in his life: Me.
I knew I had accepted my husband when I looked at my him — by this time he had delivered approximately 4 million lame apologies — and said, “I was right. You did me so wrong. And I get nothing for it.” I was 100 percent in the right, and there was nothing to win from that. It was one of those conversations after you make love all night long, where you are mad but you are very much in love at that moment. My husband had exposed a new flaw to me, one that will likely plague us for the remainder of our relationship. But I have chosen to accept him with said flaws. To make lemonade from this sour yellow lemon.
I would not say that our problems are over. As I write this, I must confess I vacillate between depression and acceptance daily. The very fabric of our relationship has been changed forever. It will never be the way it was. But if Beyonce goes through it, who am I to expect that I am immune from it? Beyonce, who represents a stark opposition to my aunt’s archaic view on marriage, has provided the answer to the question that none of my confidantes could. Lemonade is the treasure map towards forgiveness and moving on that I was requesting.
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