I Slept With a Stranger to Save My Marriage

“I’m looking past our faults from those scattered days. And fancying redemption.”

I sat in the In n Out drive-through, letting the music roll over me. *

He would be home in a few hours. Him piloting an airplane across the ocean and planning to touch down right in front of us, the first time we would see each other in four months. He had been in Europe, eating croissants and serving our country. I had been at home with all the kids, just trying to keep it together.

And I had. I had more than kept it together. Thriving in the silence of my own soul, my sons and daughter and I had been everything to each other.

We had missed the man of the house, but God had carried us, and now he was coming back. The months had turned to hours. All I had to do was wait and the clock would whirl away the last few minutes until he stood before me. I wasn’t sure what I would see.

Waiting for cheeseburgers and fries, I let out a prayer like pent up breath, a question, “God can we be good together? I just don’t know if him and I can be good together.”

Years pile up the missteps, and resentment blankets everything til you can’t see the one you promised to love and honor, til you can’t even feel yourself.

We had come far, treading patterns the best we knew how until they scraped rough hewn paths through each other’s hearts. We didn’t need to hear where the fight would go anymore, frustrated words rolled like water down the path of least resistance.

I know well the feeling of his work hardened skin against my hand. We are no longer strangers, remembering instead each angry word and quick injustice we have done each other.

I was “fancying redemption”, but even for all the love we held I didn’t know if it was possible. Maybe we were just the sum of all our years. Maybe I could only ever find easy happiness in oblivion, the swallowing up of a stranger’s arms.

We had pledged to have and to hold, so I would walk bound to this man, and he to me for as long as life held its lease. But could the scattered days be gathered up and the patterns rearranged? Could we be good together beyond the easy days? Was fancying redemption just a silly dream?

The clock unwound. I curled my hair, and put on lipstick. And then we marched – dresses pressed, the boys combed and buttoned, holding signs to welcome their Dad. We marched right out on that tarmac, flat as a plate, a cement-stretching aisle. And we stood while jets raced overhead and stood sentry all around us. We stood faces lifted to the clouds until his headlights pricked the sky, two bright eyes drawing close until the wait was no more. He broke space with the weight of his presence and slid down the air with the heavy propeller whir drumming in our ears until wheels rolled to a stop. Landed safe.

Men in green motioned to us, and we walked quick, expectant, and shy around the side of the plane. Then there he was, green flight suit reaching up to the smile I had first fallen in love with.

Sharon McKeeman
Sharon is a homeschooling mama to three sons and a daughter. She is a Midwestern girl at heart who now lives with her family on the sunny beaches of Southern California, where they enjoy reading together and playing in the surf. She is an author, educator, speaker, and photographer who shares more of her story as @sharonmckeeman on Instagram and at www.sharonmckeeman.com where you will find her blog, Writing in the Dust, as well as her newsletter, Mourning into Joy, which is filled with encouragement and resources for grieving mamas.

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