Marriage: Year Five

Mongo, Lydia, and Elvis - Year Five

This is entry #5 leading up to celebrating 15 years of marriage.

Fall 2007: Learning about Limits

We moved to Ashland the last weekend of October, just as every family in town tucked away their yard furniture and pets to begin their winter hibernation. After being a full-time teacher and three-season high school coach, Brandon found himself stranded on Morgan Avenue, watching Sesame Street and Sports Center, folding laundry, making dinner, changing two sets of diapers, and potty training. They became regulars at WalMart and Home Depot, wandering the aisles for something to do outside of the house.

My routine was the same each day – wake up, shower, put on dress pants and a blouse, apply makeup, blowdry my hair, and come down the stairs for breakfast and a mug of tea before walking to work. I rounded the corner to Elvis and Lydia sitting at the kitchen table waiting for breakfast. Brandon wore black sleeping pants and a t-shirt. My heels clacked on the linoleum as I crossed the kitchen. I added several heaping spoonfuls of sugar to the steaming mug of tea. Brandon was silent.

“Well, I’m off to work,” I said brightly.

Brandon slammed a kitchen cabinet shut and yelled, “I hate my life!”

I stared at him. Lydia sat at the table, Elvis sat in his high chair, our redbone coonhound, Tex, lounged in the living room. I loved this town. I loved our family. I loved my job. How was it possible for him to hate this life?

I left, tossing, “See you at lunch,” over my shoulder and balancing my notebook and mug with one hand to open the back door. If he’s so miserable, I mumbled to myself a dozen times that winter, why doesn’t he just leave.

Kitchen with Elvis and Lydia

Spring 2008: Learning the Value of Community

We had romanticized the notion of living in a college town, developing lasting friendships fast, hanging out with other administrators from the University, attending all the sporting events and entering into the depth of community quick, the type of bonds we’d left behind at Lake Center, where people genuinely cared what was happening in your life, beyond the workday.

Instead, most of my work interactions were conducted by email. The people I saw regularly were at least a generation older than us, their children grown and out of the house. If we wanted to make friends, we’d have to go after them.

It was hard to relate to the growing depression and anger Brandon felt about our circumstances in contrast to the bright delight of my own job and life satisfaction. I had everything I never could have hoped to want. He was doing nothing he ever dreamed of doing. We were the kind of alone made more distinct because we were together. If we wanted to stay together, we’d have to find others like us.

We walked into the church on campus one Sunday morning and left with two invitations to join a small group – not in an over-eager recruiter manner, just warmth, just join us. The sun came out. Winter thawed. People brought out their lawn furniture and pets again.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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