How Walking Saved My Marriage
Over the course of 773,770 steps, I learned to walk with, not away from, my problems
At first, I tried to outwalk my anger. Maybe if I walked fast enough, I could leave it behind. Maybe if I walked fast enough to somewhere beautiful, I could leave it behind and bury it for good and return home a better, calmer, more merciful version of myself.
What was I angry about? In a word, everything.
For months, I’d been dreaming about warm, lingering evenings when I wouldn’t have to hunch my shoulders against the drizzle and the cold. When these evenings finally arrived, it seemed they’d done so just to spite me. Flowers unfurled and brilliant colors assaulted me everywhere I turned. While my own small world seemed to be crumbling to dust, the world beyond was impervious to my pain.
On our kids’ last day of school, my partner and I were embroiled in an argument, one of many that had been descending with increasing frequency and fury. We’d almost made it through the weekend, but had spiraled into conflict just as we were sitting down to Sunday dinner. I didn’t understand what was happening, wasn’t giving him the grace he needed, was too focused on all the ways I wanted him to change. I didn’t realize my partner was wrestling with his own demons, teetering on the verge of collapse. I felt like I had two husbands, the one I’d known and loved for 18 years and this other man who looked at me with hard eyes and spat venom-laced words in my face.
I felt angry, but I was also grieving, even if I wasn’t quite yet sure what I’d lost. It seemed that on the eve of our 15th wedding anniversary, we’d arrived at the beginning of the end. There was talk of the D word, of things being over, of what to do next. In the strained silences between our fierce words, I thought about all the memories we’d made, all the traditions we’d carried forward, all the things that would no longer be the same. Family cheers, Sunday sundaes, annual trips to the pumpkin farm.
In the short-term, I wondered what would come of the summer I’d spent months painstakingly piecing together — not just the complicated daily camp itineraries, but also our long-anticipated family reunion, our annual camping trip, our…