Making “Her” Place “Ours”

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Love and Marriage
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Going back to the apartment in Republic to get “my stuff” was very bittersweet.  I could tell that my wife was growing tense even while we were driving down those old familiar streets.  I asked her if it was bothering her to be going back and she admitted that it was.

I could have gone by myself to do this, but I wanted her to be a part of it.  I wanted her input on what to keep and what to get rid of, but more importantly, I wanted her there when I walked into and out of that place for the last time.  When we had moved there, I thought our marriage was going to get better.  After spending all those painful nights and days in that place, I didn’t want my last time going back to be without her.

In truth, most of “our” stuff was already at the loft.  We had picked the place out together with the hope that we would be able to work things out.  With an eye to that end, we had agreed to bring those things that we would both want to have there at the time my wife moved in.  The things that were at the old apartment were mostly my clothes and some basic survival stuff for the kitchen and bathroom.

It wasn’t the things that were important.  It was the idea of making the change permanent, and restoring some of the damage that the separation had done.  It was the idea that we were now together, and always would be, so this wasn’t something that I had to do alone.  It was a necessary step on the restoration tour, and we made it short, although it certainly wasn’t sweet.

A big part of me really didn’t want to live in the loft, because I associated it with us being split up, and her pursuing her own life without me.  I had always dreamed of having a loft, but in my dreams, it was never like this.  On the other hand, it was the place where my wife had grown and changed and was still becoming the person I was now more in love with than ever before. She had done a masterful job of organizing and decorating the place, and her personality and good taste were all over it.

One of the things I had vowed to myself when we got back together was that I would be there to give to her and not take from her.  Another was that I wouldn’t try to control or manipulate her.  Even without me saying much about it, she understood the need to make some changes.  She knew that my mental and emotional health would be improved if some things about the place could be made different.

It was great to rearrange the furniture, change some things about the decor and the atmosphere, and feel the support from my wife as we began to slowly make the loft “ours.”  I wasn’t going to demand that any changes be made, and she was more than willing to try to make me feel more comfortable about living there.  I’m a visual person, so being able to walk in and see something different from what I used to see while we were split up was important.

That’s really what’s at the heart of the entire restoration tour.  Changing negative associations into positive ones.  We can’t go back and undo what’s been done.  We can’t take magic wands and pull certain memories out of our heads.  Some part of us will always know things we wish we didn’t, and will always remember things that we wish had never happened.

Restoration isn’t about denial.  It’s about repairing, strengthening, and replacing.  You don’t try to hide what’s wrong with an old house that needs work, so that you can pretend the years haven’t taken a toll.  You identify everything that isn’t as it should be and you make it right.  So it is with our marriage.  We don’t try to pretend the damage never occurred, but we don’t accept that we have to live with it either.  Much like the prayer of the addict, we are hard at work on accepting the things we cannot change, and changing the things we can.


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