“What can I do for you? What does it mean for me to put you first and love you more?” Sadly, the question surprised my husband in the last hour of Valentine’s Day. It shouldn’t have—it should be a question he hears every day. Instead, he hears me say things like “My family, my rules” when it comes to our interactions with my parents, who we spent the day with yesterday at my niece’s birthday party.
Don’t talk about natural selection.
Don’t talk about theoretical physics.
Do read these articles my dad sent about the beautiful Alexis Tsipras, so you can
speak intelligently to agree with him when he refers to Tsipras as the Antichrist.
They can’t. Find. Out.
How selfish am I? Have I ever written a post that explores how this fear of consequences with my family might affect my husband and my marriage? Have I ever thought about it?
Fear of consequences—is it rational? I think it is. I think my husband agrees. There would be consequences if my family found out that I no longer believe. They would likely blame it on two things: my husband and my education. More the former than the latter. Then they might even try to blame each other. Their response will be to say more and say it louder, even though they have already said enough—for a lifetime, they’ve said enough. They’ll hate the gay people, the Muslims, the Hindus, the atheists, and the black people I call my friends—my mom still uses the N-word from time to time, and rage stirs within me as I firmly correct her. Most of all, they’ll hate my husband—the scientist. They really already do, but it’s usually a silent hatred. They often ignore him when he speaks. If they acknowledge him, it is often with rolled eyes. I’ve confronted my mom before for passive-aggression. “Stop. You have to be nice. He is my husband, and you have to be nice.” It ruined the weekend—but my husband felt loved.
They hate him because his knowledge challenges their lies. They hate him because his curiosity reveals their ignorance—a choice they have made out of stubbornness and laziness. They hate him because his arguments obliterate fallacies and because their flaming arrows cannot penetrate his gentleness.
Oh, they love Jesus.
But they hate the man who looks more like him than anyone I’ve ever known.
“It appears as though the Antichrist has risen to power,” my dad says of Alexis Tsipras.
YOU ARE THE FUCKING ANTICHRIST.
Capital letters because I’m screaming inside. Mistyped words because my hands are trembling. Typing through tears.
No, I didn’t say it out loud. Gentleness and respect. Gentleness and respect. Gentleness. And. Respect.
My husband barely said a word all day. How could he?—most of what he would say isn’t on the “safe-list.” He’s a different man when his flame is smothered—only when we’re around my family. How often is it like this? Probably a weekend every month, a week in the summer, two weeks at Christmas. Manageable, right?
Wrong. Not because he can’t pretend for a brief time. Not because he isn’t willing to make the sacrifice for me. It’s not sustainable—because of what it says about my heart for him. For that weekend, that week, that holiday, I’m loving him second. I’m not okay with that. Not for my parents, not for my kids, not for anyone—not ever. He is first. If loving him first offends someone else…well…let the chips fall where they may.
Where might they fall? I don’t intend to suddenly announce my faith position and then storm out, slamming the door behind me. And I don’t expect that I’ll be thrown out immediately, either. What I anticipate is that I’ll be slowly smoked out. They’ll say more and say it louder. They’ll hate my husband with renewed vigor, and I’ll defend him with rediscovered loyalty. They’ll aggressively try to evangelize my children. Choosing my husband first and children second will require us to keep our distance. None of this is guaranteed. Much of this is likely. All of it is possible.
My husband’s answer to my question was what I thought it would be. He feels so chained around my parents. He would love to have the freedom to be himself, but he will not ask me for anything. He understands my struggle and the likely consequences of telling my family, and he does not want to cause me that kind of pain for his sake.
He won’t ask for it—but he shouldn’t have to.
What does this mean? Is The Day coming? No. I don’t know. It must. Yes. I’m petrified. Who will take me in if I’m rejected? Who will take me in if I reject them for my husband’s sake?
Selfishness again. As much as I want to draw support and have a plan for The Day, if it comes—the only person I need is in a Benadryl-induced coma next to me right now. If my family rejects us, and if all other supports fail, I still have him—the one I’m doing this for. He will always be first, even if that demands a vast reduction in those who follow.
Let the chips fall where they may.
[Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]