My best friend Els saved my marriage without really knowing it. She really has no idea. I don’t want to help her either, because my husband and I were an example of a good relationship.
If I tell her that Max and I are about to break up, her worldview will be shattered. She often referred to us as “Hope for Frightful Days,” especially during the time of her divorce.
This was hell for her. Our relationship is exactly what a relationship should be in her eyes. That’s what she said when Max and I found each other. She also witnessed our wedding. I remember thinking: with such a pro he should have been successful.
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So it was for years. The strong confidence that Els had in us was based on something. Max and I were also confident, maybe too much. We’ve seen our relationship as an indestructible foundation, something we don’t have to worry about.
That was a great, safe idea that gave us a lot of freedom, but also left us careless. We were not prepared for the impact of time. Nothing dramatic happened between me and Max. If only that was the case, we would have woken up earlier. But we actually drifted apart unnoticed.
When we realized this, we were not shocked, precisely because it happened gradually. We didn’t panic, we didn’t feel a screaming sadness, only confusion. We just didn’t understand what happened and how we couldn’t notice it. How can we get so far apart, when we’ve lost each other?
We were blaming each other, it was all reproach on both sides. “I guess you think I’m still that girl from that time!” “I don’t get the impression that you know what’s on my mind!” Civilization and intellectualism have only widened the distance between us.
We quickly concluded that there was only one thing left: to cut the last tires and separate them. We didn’t see fit for couples therapy, it was a by-pass stop. But then Els turns out to be the wizard of our relationship. without knowing.
She lived with us temporarily after her divorce, is this true? Her mother also passed away at the time and she was an emotional wreck. There were many problems with the visiting arrangements with the children and they were on the verge of collapse.
Max and I fell in love with it. When she showed up on our doorstep because she didn’t know where to go, I was heartbroken. It affected me and Max a lot. I haven’t seen Max get so affected and cared for in a long time. He brought Els’ things upstairs, cleaned up the guest room and announced that he was going shopping for dinner. For someone who doesn’t know the state of our marriage, it was little more than an advertisement for a house-garden-kitchen, but to me it meant more.
We haven’t really eaten together in a long time. I thought it was hard to pretend to Els that everything was sailing smoothly between me and Max, but she needed a lot of attention so that things went smoothly that first night.
She can tell her story with us. We also remembered, so sometimes sadness alternated with cheerful laughter and was familiar and warm with good food and a glass of wine. She told her story, but she also asked us about all kinds of things, about relatives and friends … Because she did not talk directly about our relationship, we were able to answer her questions rather frankly.
And so I also got a lot of new information about Max. He told Els things I didn’t really know and made statements I hadn’t heard before. He surprised me in a very positive way – I thought he grew and became wiser.
It made me feel curious. And he had the same thing. When I told something, Max was often the one to ask the most. The conversations that followed were substantive and inspiring. And they made me feel warm. Just like his interest in Els.
He was always genuinely involved with my family and friends, which I thought was very special. The last night Els stayed with us, I asked about our wedding album. During that sad period, she wanted to see something beautiful, something happy.
There we were, the three of us on the couch with our wedding photos. Max and I had a hard time watching, but we opened another bottle of wine and became more and more immersed in what we saw. He told us tales and at some point we had a giggle.
When Els went to bed, Max and I were dumbfounded. Then he suddenly said that we might have thrown in the towel too soon, that we had something very beautiful together and that we could have done more to find it.
It was a complete transformation, as if we suddenly realized what we were doing. That evening we decided to rethink our relationship. During a long walk we wanted to start clearing the air. But in fact it has already been. The days Els spent with us secretly were a kind of therapy for couples.
Max and I are very grateful to her, although of course she didn’t consciously do it. We both wonder if she knew more about our situation than she showed. The timing was pretty good. But perhaps her grief was simply making her more sensitive to the pain of others.
us in this case. Maybe one day, when she’s happy again, I’ll ask her. If it turns out that she consciously wanted to help us despite her own problems, I’d like to thank her on my bare knees. Because she saved my marriage anyway.
Photo (c) Getty Images. This article previously appeared in the print edition of Nouveau, the names in this article have been changed (c) Nouveau DPG Media 2022.
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