Book Excerpt: The Marriage Sabbatical

The following excerpt comes from Cheryl Jarvis' new book, The Marriage Sabbatical.

Buy your copy of The Marriage Sabbatical.

Introduction

I'm sitting at the dining-room table making phone calls, struggling to get a job in a city where creative opportunities are limited. The right side of my neck aches from my prolonged, hunched-over position. A pain shoots its way down my arm. I'm longing for a shoulder rub when the phone rings. It's the senior producer of the television show I worked on before it moved east. The producer who replaced me isn't working out, he says, and her successor can't start for a few months. Will I come to Connecticut to fill in?

By the time I'm off the phone, I've forgotten the pain. I start to feel light-headed as I think about how luxurious it would be to focus on the job without feeling pulled in all directions. Before, when I was at work, I was thinking of home; when I was at home, I was thinking of work, my loyalties divided always. Rushing in late to the office, after negotiating breakfasts and schedules and last-minute school projects, racing out early for baseball games, tennis matches, music lessons, I always had the nagging feeling that the single producers on staff were putting in longer hours, achieving more. I think of the shows I could create if I weren't constantly worrying about who or what I was neglecting. My thoughts meander to living alone for three months, to having Sundays just for me. I fantasize about long walks in the New England countryside. Guilty pleasure suffuses my body like an endorphin high.

At dinner I barely touch my food as I talk excitedly about my opportunity. My husband says little; after years of practicing psychotherapy, he is well trained to listen, well trained not to react. The boys, ten and fourteen, ask a few questions: When would you leave? How long would you be gone? Later that evening, I'm reading in bed, psychologically already airborne, when my younger son walks in, closes the door behind him, and sits on the edge of the bed. "I don't want you to go," he says. "School will be starting then. What if I have a problem? I need you when school starts. You can go another time. Please don't go now." Later, my older son comes in, closes the door, and sits at the same spot on the edge of the bed. Same plea, different reason.

Feelings whirl through me: sureness that I won't accept the offer; dejection, now that my chance to live and work alone for a few months has vanished; elation that my sons need me. But something significant has happened. I have admitted to myself how much I long to go.

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