"All right, Marie, what has to change for you to come home? I know I was a jerk, but I need some guidelines here." Frank says as he slumps into his favourite chair at Ray's. He hates these kinds of conversations. They make his skin crawl.
Marie sits on the very edge of one of the couch cushions. "I just need to feel like you're still invested in this relationship, Frank. Half the time I feel like it's just me that's still trying to make this work because you happen to think that everything is working just fine. I don't care how often we have sex. That's not important. What's important is that I know that you love me enough to put the work in and I don't feel that way now. I just want you to kiss me, or hug me, or touch me without any expectations of anything later."
"That's not natural for me, Marie. You know me better than anyone and I love that you do, but you should know by now that I'm not a natural expresser of my emotions. I never have been. I do love you. I always have and I always will, but I still struggle with expressing things like that. I need you to understand that I couldn't do without you even though I don't always tell you that." Frank says as he stands up and moves over to sit next to Marie.
"Can I ask you something, Frank?" Marie asks slowly. She doesn't always like to ask him questions. Frank nods his head. "Did you ever think when we got married all those years ago that we'd make it this far?"
"I think when we got married we were both scared. We didn't know what the future would bring and I think that we both hoped things would work out between us. I loved you and I would have married you, but I think we both would have preferred it to be on our own terms. I remember looking at you when we finally told your parents we were pregnant. You looked so devastated and I felt responsible and I thought you didn't want to marry me. I was crushed by everything. Our lives changed the moment we found out we were pregnant. I wouldn't change anything now, but I did then. I felt you resented me. The wedding was not the way you would have naturally done things because we had to rush and I know that you don't know that I know this, but I know that on our wedding day you had morning sickness and you didn't think you were going to be able to walk down the aisle. I know your father was terribly disappointed in you and told you so every chance that he got. Sometimes today I still wonder if I ruined your life in that moment that we made love for the first time." Frank says honestly.
"Who told you that I'd had morning sickness on our wedding day? I was scared when we got married. I wasn't ready to be a wife; I wasn't ready to be a mother. I just wasn't ready for any of it. I was devastated when we told my parents that we were pregnant. My father called me a slut. What did you expect? I did want to marry you. I loved you then and I love you now even though you don't make it easy for me to love you. I was overwhelmed by everything that happened to us then, but I wouldn't change it. It brought us together faster than any other moment could have. I never resented you, but I felt very foolish for doing what we'd done. And, you're right, I wouldn't have had our wedding that way if I'd had an option but, I wouldn't change it now. Our wedding was beautiful and intimate, just the way it was. You didn't ruin my life. You gave me the most precious gift on the planet: children, and I know you think I would change things if I could, but maybe if things had been different we wouldn't have Robert and Raymond and they are the most important thing we got out of this. I love you, Frank." Marie says as she leans towards him.
"You don't hold anything against me about the way this all started? You're a better person than I am. If I were you I'd hate me." Frank says as he slowly slips his arms around Marie.
"Maybe there was a little divine intervention to make you propose because, if I remember rightly, you were taking an awfully long time getting around to that. Maybe it made us both think about how precious our freedom at that time was. Yes, we grew up probably faster than most of our friends did, but our sons are great and compared to my father you were phenomenal." Marie says resting her head on Frank's chest.
"I never told you about my dad, did I? I probably should have." Frank asks quietly. "There's a reason for everything I do though I don't always tell anyone my reasons until after. My father was brutal. Do you remember asking me about the bruises I had on my arms and face when you saw me and I said that they were from getting in fights at school? They weren't. The bruises I had were from my father beating me with everything and anything on hand. I never told anyone. I think most of my teachers probably knew, but it wasn't as big a deal then. The first people I told were my sons when we pretended to go to therapy sessions. I swore when I found out that you were pregnant that I was not going to be like my father. That my sons would never be afraid of me even if sometimes I felt like they should be. I swore that I would never leave a mark on my kids even if it were an Indian rope burn. I didn't ever want to be seen to be like my dad. I never told you my promises because I knew I would have to explain, but I kept every promise. I had to."
"Oh Frank, you never said a word. Is that what you lived with until we got married? I wondered about the fact that you got so many bruises and seemed to be in so many fights, but I never really questioned it. I'm glad you decided not to be like your dad. If he was like that with you why did he like me so much?" Marie asks. His father sounded like the type of person that didn't like anyone or anything.
"I have no idea why he took such a shine to you. I never did figure that part out. Maybe he liked you because you were non-threatening to him. You were trying to get him to like you because we were trying to regain some trust from our parents. It's funny though, your parents never took a shine to me. The worst beating I ever got from him was the day I told him you were pregnant. He didn't think I deserved to be a father. He didn't think I deserved you either come to think of it. Are you ready to come home now?" Frank asks as he holds his wife close. Everything he does is to reassure Marie that he loves her.
"Alright Frank, let's go home. Are you willing to talk to me more about the past? Now I almost feel as if I don't know you like I thought I did." Marie asks as they stand up and walk out the front door hand in hand.