The seven year itch is real. At least, it was for Shauna and I. But the word “itch” is an understatement. It implies mere restlessness, not war.

Don’t get me wrong; that’s not how our fairy tale started. I proposed to Shauna at sunset atop a romantic tower, and she said yes—girlish squeals, sparkling diamond, fluttering eyelids and all. Our engagement photo was classic, painted with impossibly grand smiles and twinkling eyes aplenty. Five months later I married my best friend, and she, hers.  Did I mention that our wedding day was magical, and our honeymoon, more so? So, so good.

Yeah. But a year or two later, typical newlywed spats had long since pricked the honeymoon balloon, reducing it to the gangly ribbons we could then use to stave the bleeding. Subtle tensions began to build. Over the next few years those tensions grew roots, spreading their greedy fingers to leach fresh soil as time passed. Incessant nagging and ruthless score-keeping were just the tip of the attitudinal iceberg. It wasn’t pretty.

It was her fault, you know. Or that’s what I thought at the time (hint: it wasn’t). I grew up in a “Leave It To Beaver” family, you understand, and brought my impressive pedigree of relational skills to bear on our marital bliss-less-ness.  Oddly enough, that didn’t work. At all.

Fast forward another few years. We were mired squarely in the sickening muck of year seven. One day I was sitting in the car, driving who knows where with an angry woman at the wheel (her). Shauna was infuriating me, sending me farther beyond the outer rings of torturous stupidity than any human has ventured since Cain killed Abel. Or at least, that’s how it felt. I felt powerless (partly, I’ll admit, because she was driving. Oooooh!) I clenched my fists and attempted to speak. Nothing more than vacant thought bubbles filled the front seat between us.

Rage surged through me, until I spat out the words any sane person would upchuck in my position:

“I’m going to jump out of this car.”

I mean, I really wanted to. The thought of unlatching the door and leaping my way to a road-rashed, body-casted utopia without Shauna sounded like my only option at that point. Really. I think maybe the only thing that stopped me was her tender rebuttal:

“Be my guest.”

Be my… what? Hey! If she wanted me to, then forget it. I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction.

So that’s it. I’ve now shared the soaring high point of my marriage story with you. Now you know. But don’t get the wrong idea. I loved Shauna, I really did. The question is, what did love mean to me back then?

Bottom line, it meant duty. It meant commitment, doing husbandly things in the name of Christ—because, darn it, that’s what God would want me to do.

It wasn’t enough.

Coming next: Mirrors don’t lie.