I had an extensive collection of guard towers in my marriage. They stood side by side, almost forming an impenetrable wall that encircled the union. Each one was fully staffed and stocked with binoculars and communication devices so that no surprise attacks could occur.
There was a fatal error made in their construction, however.
They all pointed outwards, watching for external attacks.
I went into marriage a realist. Sort of. I knew that fairy tales weren’t real and I had seen firsthand the ugliness that life can deliver. I say ‘sort of’ because I would never have thought that my husband was capable of delivering that ugliness. I had a realistic view of marriage but I didn’t have a realistic view of him.
I set out from the beginning to protect my marriage. I was afraid of external threats. I always had a deep fear that I would lose him, but I assumed that it would be to death. That fear was not unfounded since I has lost 13 friends that way in the preceding years. So I erected those guard towers to alert me to any incoming hazards.
When years passed with no alarms, I grew complacent. Fat (figuratively speaking) and happy within the protected enclave of the union.
And that’s when the attack occurred.
There were no alarms because my attention was focused in the wrong direction. Much like a pickpocket or a magician, my husband performed his tricks while ensuring my focus was elsewhere. And it worked.
My guard towers gave me a false sense of security. They were focused only on outside threats and, even worse, they were built so densely that they kept others out even when they offered no threat.
My towers are different now. I have pruned their numbers, limiting them to a few so as not to obstruct the view of the greater world. I make sure that they are on alert for hazards inside the relationship as well as those coming in from the outside. I ask them to be selectively permeable, much like a cell membrane, allowing benign bodies to pass.
I do have to be careful, as my guard towers are now prone to false alarms. When I hear sirens, I have to learn that the threat may be a ghost from the past and not a real menace.
I am happy within their borders. I trust their ability to alert me to danger. But I am not complacent. And that’s the best guard tower of all.