​​Marriage and Other Arrangements

What is Unbreakable?

by Kenneth L. Stewart, Ph.D.  

Sometimes its hard to find the words to

describe what is eating us. We may be

articulate most of the time, but when it

comes time to put our agony, our frustration

into words, we are left groping in the dark.

At the moment there may be nothing that is

shedding any light on what is inside us or

inside our relationships with another.

Sometimes we have to go through all kinds of

contortions to begin to discover what is eating us. We can’t always approach this carefully. In fact, we sometimes need to risk being un-careful in order to arrive at proper description of what’s bugging us. Essayist Michael Ventura says that if we are afraid of breaking – either breaking down within ourselves or breaking something in the relationship, then all that carefulness may mean that something is terribly wrong with this marriage or this relationship.

But, how are we going to know for sure ? He suggests that sometimes we need to not be so careful. In fact, sometimes we need to let the winds blow and see what’s left in the morning. What will be left after the latest hurricane has blown through the marriage or the relationship? What will be left standing when the storm blows over and we peek outside the next morning to survey the damage? Seeing what is left afterward, after the unsaid has been said, after what has been eating us has been exorcized – and the ugly monster is out in full view – that is “the solace of marriage.” It is the discovery of what is unbreakable among all that is broken. What withstands the storm? What part of our connection– our memory, our hopes, dreams, and horrors – is still standing ? Ventura says that he finds comfort in what is standing after the storm. This is the irreducible center of the marriage or the relationship. He says that in the midst of this process, when carefulness is set aside and unsaid things are finally said, then we make important discoveries. We discover what we didn’t know about each other and what we don’t know about ourselves as well. Keeping talking past the point where we usually stop, keeping talking to the point of some kind of breakthrough – if you will allow a play on words – leaves a lot of images and careful constructions broken. And whatever is left unbroken –  this is the center or solace of the marriage. Scary, isn’t it ?

Most of us would dare not go that far. We would not start such a storm for fear that when all was said and the winds stopped blowing, nothing would be left unbroken. We would have said too much and broken everything of value. We fear that there would be no solace. So we don’t take the risk to find out. For those that do and discover unknown areas in themselves and the relationship that are unbroken, an enormous sense of relief must follow. For here is where we can find solace and comfort.