Two years ago, my husband and I were on vacation in Nova Scotia. We’d stopped for breakfast in a local coffee shop. Sipping my coffee, I absent mindedly ran my finger over my diamond ring to discover: there is no diamond? I checked again in disbelief. “I lost my diamond!”
We searched the booth, under the table and between the cracked, vinyl-cushioned bench. The three other people in the shop helped. After a thorough search, we knew the diamond wasn’t there.
Out on the street, I retraced our steps. Each glisten in the cement sidewalk duped me into thinking it was the gem! We hurried back to the quaint inn where we’d spent the night. I was increasingly despondent, believing we’d never find the diamond. The room was unlocked. We searched everywhere. The bedding. The garbage. The toilet. No luck.
I realized that I couldn’t be sure when I’d lost the diamond, and I accepted that it was gone forever.
I place meaning upon events. How could I lose something so valuable and significant? I should be crying. Why am I not crying? I reconciled the loss as an indication of what was truly lost: far more than a gemstone. My second marriage.
For some time, though optimistic by nature, I’ve struggled to find my way out of a black hole of despair. Caustic emotions corroded my psyche, with a cacophony of despondent thinking. Another botched marriage. I’m a failure.
There’s no one to talk to. Everyone likes my husband and rightly so. He’s a kind-hearted man with a generous nature. When my granddaughter learned that we’d each been married before she said, “Why would anyone leave grandpa? He’s such a nice man. What would she think of me?
I sought professional help. As a Life Coach, I knew that there was value in saying out loud, what one has been assuming. Thinking in isolation, without a counter point of view, is seldom beneficial.
My therapist suggested I rediscover what I initially loved about this man. Therein lies the conundrum. I’m not sure how to do that, because he’s not the man he was when we met. It’s like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. His gold is there, but I couldn’t see the rainbow.
When we returned home without the diamond, I felt the gulf between us widen like the Grand Canyon. Spanning it was similar to walking across a swinging bridge. Hold on tight and walk carefully or you’ll fall into the abyss. I let go and fell into a river of self-pity. I was angry at anyone who was happy. I was angry at the people who thought we’re happy and made for each other. I was angry at myself for not being able to fix things.
It’s not in my nature to simply accept and not try. Marriage is a concoction of adventures, failures, love, fears, regrets, triumphs and traumas. No one single event defines it. I’d made a commitment to stay. I needed to do more than just hope something would change.
Maybe it was the loss of a tangible piece of my marriage, a visible loss that stirred me to action. Without the diamond ring I had no talisman to remind me of how we used to be. Its absence moved me from the past to the present.
I changed the lens I used to view our marriage. I tried to focus on how this man expresses his affection toward me. He may no longer be as affectionate as he was when we first met, but he’s a doer. He demonstrates love by gift giving, a desire to spend quality time together and acts of service. Weird as it may seem, when he cleans the bathroom, he’s saying I love you. He was doing the best he could.
I started a gratitude journal. I resurrected two photos of us, when we were happy, and placed them next to my favorite chair. I stopped being deluded by the idea that love is like a light switch, magically turned on by the universe. It’s a series of choices and chemistry, created in the laboratory of your mind. This was my lab, so I began to choose and focus on the active elements important to me: kindness, compassion, honesty and sincerity.
* * * * *
It’s our wedding anniversary, and we’re at dinner in our favorite inn in the Adirondack Mountains. As the waitress places the box on the table, she says what my husband asked her to say, “Excuse me, I think you lost this.”
I stare at the little box with the yellow ribbon, hold my breath and open it. A diamond engagement ring exactly like the one I lost is glistening inside.
My husband says, “I want you to have a diamond ring.”
With this gift, he is saying, “I love you.”
He tells me that he took the original ring, and brought it back to the jewelry store where he’d purchased it twenty-six years ago. That setting couldn’t be used, so he bought a new one.
It is a new ring. A new setting. And a new understanding of love.