By Cassidy Dover: "Marriage Is A Covenant, Not A Contract"
I have been reading quite a bit on Jimmy's page these past few weeks about Marriages that Fail in Baseball and other professional sports. I have read the rebuttal that Rene Taubensee wrote as well. Now I want to add my few cents. I realize that everyone's opinion is based on their own experiences. I wanted to take this opportunity to share Ray's and my stories. These antidotes I share aren't meant to show a rosy side of our marriage. I try to share our struggles and our trials as much as I share those special occasions that we have been blessed with. Our marriage isn't an easy one. It's not perfect. I don't want anyone to think that because then I wouldn't be doing my job in sharing what life on the fringe is really like.
We do have our share of excitement and good times. We also have our struggles. One season Ray was hurt. He needed to have surgery. We expected the surgery to take about six months to come back from. Things don't ever seem to work out the way we plan them to work though, do they? Ray was out for over a year and a half. His team released him. When we finally did receive workman's comp it was less than 1% of Ray's salary had been while he was in the big leagues.
Our savings began to dwindle. More importantly, Ray's sense of self went with it. There was no dollar amount that could make him feel more secure about his future. Ray had only ever known himself to be a ball player. That is what had set him apart his entire life. During that time I took the passive aggressive role and refused to get a job. I told Ray that I was staying home with Sheridan and he'd have to figure things out for us. I dug my heals in. My fear took the face of an uncaring and non supportive wife. I did nothing to let Ray know that my love for him was without conditions. Ray had those people at his rehab clinic that were his new team. He'd go out with them at night and leave Sheridan and I at home. He's spend hours on end at Rehab getting treatments, working out, and hanging out with people whose job it was to get him back to baseball. They believed in his future as a ballplayer in a way that my attitude did not. My attitude said, "Ray, you need to figure out what's next in life." We were heading in different directions.
Through this Ray and I struggled greatly. We didn't like each other. We didn't much believe in the other. We spent little time together although he was finally home for months on end. During that time Ray and I went to see a counselor. The counselor tried to tell us we needed to offer more affection and more intimacy to one another. I was not on board. Ray wasn't either. The counseling pushed us further apart. The divorce word came up more than once. I believe at one point Ray even moved out.
OK, originally I left this next part out of my entry. Jimmy asked me and I decided to be truly honest with those of you who have chosen to take this journey with me. The Truth: Ray and I had a horrible argument one day. I told him to get out. That stopped him in his tracks. He begged me to let him wait for Sheridan to wake up from a nap and I refused. Ray said to me, "Because I love you and I want Us, I'll leave." He drove away while I cried.
Ray went to his good friend's home. His friend's wife called me often (I wouldn't answer Ray's calls. I'd show him!). She told me how much Ray wanted to come home. Then, on Father's Day, Ray invited Sheridan and I to an independent league game in town. I agreed to meet him there. I saw him and we both cried and we hugged and we agreed to disagree. We also agreed to disagree under the same roof and to seek help from a counselor who may fit us better than the first one. Suprisingly to me, we BOTH had gone separately to counseling during those two or three weeks to find a way to be better when we got back together. It was an ugly time.
One point kept us together. We both believed, and still do, that Marriage is a Covenant. A covenant can't be broken. These days marriage is seen more as a contract. If one partner doesn't keep up his or her side of things, then that gives the other person the right to leave.
Now that we are parents we know what true unconditional love is. Sheridan can do just about anything and, although we are angry, there is absolutely no way that we would leave her. We both know that in her life Sheridan will make poor choices. She will hate us. She will disappoint us as we will let her down as well. But as a parent you know that you don't walk away from your child. A family is something that nothing can break apart. Nothing. When Ray and I decided to marry, we may not have known each other as well as we should have. We may have not appreciated the core of the other. But we had LOVE. Love was supposed to be enough. We didn't realize marriage is hard work. Marriage, at times, really does stink. It's easier to walk away than to say, "I've made mistakes as well as Ray has. We need to work on this."
Recently Ray and I revisited our commitment to one another. We had to look hard at our life, our marriage, and our love. My love for Ray today is much different than it was when we first were married. I remember my mom said to me, "Cassidy, after you sleep with your husband and you share the hard times, the mystery will be gone. Is this a man who you can honestly love when you don't like him? Is he, to the core, the man who you believe God wants you to be with?" My parents are not athletes. Neither are Ray's parents. Yet each has lived their marriage for more than 35 + years. They turned to rather than away in hard times. Ray and I have turned away from one another. We have been hateful and mean. Yet Ray and I LOVE each other in a way that is unconditional. If you truly put no conditions on Love, it means that as hurtful and ugly as life can get, you won't walk away from that love. It's always there.
Ray is still playing, so we aren't in that "retirement" phase yet. In this Baseball Life, with all the temptations and all the mistakes that can be made when you spend time apart and everyone is expecting you to fail at the marriage thing, it is easier to believe in each other if you are ready and willing to truly love and truly forgive when mistakes are made. Never is a strong word. However, when marriage between two is a Covenant that is not to be broken because you believe in your heart and your soul that it is not just between two mortals, but that God has a hand in it, then it is much more difficult to walk away.
I pray that everyone is able to look at their marriage in this way. Ray and I continue to read books, to seek counsel and advice from others in our times of difficulties, and to work on our marriage and ourselves so that the two that are married are present and willing partners in life. We take the time to cherish the good times as well. We share laughter and the tears but try to find more laughter and good rather than focusing on the painful and the disappointing.
We have a saying hanging in our bedroom that I see each night before bed and each morning when I wake up. It says, "A Great Marriage isn't about Finding the Right Person, it's about Being the Right Person." All we can do is work on Being the Right person and giving our 100% to our marriage. The rest, when it's too much for us, we give to God and ask His help and His guidance through the darkness. We've found in our promise and our vows that after darkness and tears there is a rainbow that has made the pain worth walking through.
Good luck in your Marriage. I can only pray for continued success in My Own.
Thank you for Reading,
Cassidy Dover has been a baseball wife for more than 10 years. Her husband Ray, currently in the minor leagues, has spent part of 7 seaons in The Show. To read more of her columns, just click HERE. Cassidy lives somewhere in America with her daughter Sheridan. Right now, they're probably waiting for Ray to come home.