It was the best of years, it was the worst of years – Episode 1

Whoa!! I think I am channeling Charles Dickens,what about that!!  This not a tale of Two Cities though, it is a Tale of Two People.  Specifically Margery and I. While this entire blog is about us, this post is not about  “Just the facts Mam.”   The old TV series “Dragnet” of long ago had that as a tag line.  This blog is about the emotions, good and bad, plus and minus, that we experienced.  So,  a bit subjective, but still real. Maybe many of you can relate to your own emotional ups and downs with your special someone. This is ours, mine from my own memories, and to the extent possible, Marge’s from the various documents in her archives. In honesty, I should have included these emotions in earlier posts as well as the descriptions of our activities. So, I am proceeding to the point where we married until the last chronological post, and from there on, telling as complete a story as I can of all the dimensions of our lives. This retrospection is difficult for me as it digs up many memories long-buried.

I enclose two images from a set I made years ago.  They are from the remains of a ghost town nearby now revealed from under Lake Mead.  Once covered with water, they now exist as echoes if things long forgotten. So too are many of my ancient memories. Now they are present, as are these relics long forgotten in the depths of Lake Mead. I must acknowledge  and deal with them.

Ancient Stump

Ancient stump

Barrel Skeleton

Barrel Skeleton

“It wonders me” mused the Dutchman to nobody in particular and everybody in general. I’m not a PA Dutchman, but I certainly wonder why Marge and my relationship went downhill so fast after we married. I too, wonder to nobody in particular and everybody in general. Why did I marry her?  Well, she was very smart and had a quirky sense of humor. We had many interests in common.  She was tall, slim, and attractive.  Maybe not a homecoming queen, but good-looking.  At the end of her Freshman year in May 1958, we had an emotional talk at Onondaga park.  I told her I really wondered if I was the right guy for her.  She asked me if I loved her and I said I really did. She asked me why and I could not answer that, I just did.

In her Sophomore year, we had developed a care for and mutual trust with each other and became intimate.  We actually made love, not just had sex which is only a part of making love.  There was for me, and I think for  her as well a sense of 100% oneness.

In her biography in mid 1980’s Marge  commented that she married me because I asked her. This is partially true since I did. She also wanted to marry.   Once in late winter of 1959, she took the bus to my shared apartment with her little travel bag in hand and wanted to get married then and there. Her mother, Dorothy, and I both convinced her that it would be better to wait until 1960 so she would have a reasonable chance of finishing school and I could get established in my first engineering job.

In her love letters to me during the summer of 59 when I was in Basic Training, more than once she wrote me how she looked forward to being Mrs. Robert Frantzen, not Miss Margery Sutherland.  In the intervening 25 years or so, she seems to have forgotten, neglected, or overlooked, what she wrote to me then. Married life deteriorated quickly after our short and uneventful honeymoon. Were either of us ready for reality?  I don’t think so.

Marge’s anger toward me was clear to others as well .  We visited her mother in 1961 before my departure for France for my Air National Guard activation.  Her mother said to Marge “You should be nicer to Bob as he might not come back.”  As an Army wife herself, she knew what she was talking about.  I did not, and do not understand this change in Marge’s behavior to me.

We developed, and continued to have troubles with sexuality.  Making love was gone with the wind and had degenerated  into occasional sex that was not very satisfying for either of us. I really think this was a symptom resulting from a deeper cause, not a cause in itself of our difficulties. This confused me. I know not the cause nor the cure.

In commenting about this, many years later when we making one of many tries with marriage counseling Margery wrote about a specific question for us to answer: What are your beliefs about your own sexuality? How did you arrive at those beliefs, where did they come from and how do they get acted out in  your life? Marge’s response in part was: “We tried to get help very early – Dr O’Leary ( the doctor who delivered Marge) was as embarrassed as we were, could not help. Mr. Woolrich the counsellor ( more detail from me in following paragraph)  tried to help our marriage in general by questions about the past, but when he got to my Daddy, I couldn’t go into it and stopped going.”

I, Bob as a student, saw a counsellor in the Student Health service when I had  mild issues with depression.  When the 1960 Fall semester began and Marge was a student, I told her that the college had a professional counseling service and perhaps we could try that together to improve our lives.  The counsellor we saw was Mr. Woolrich.   I thought he was good and that we were making progress.  Then he started to probe deeper with the question to Marge about her father.  That  ended my attempt to get outside professional help which I  hoped would be beneficial.  Marge brought a lot of heavy baggage with her and was unwilling or perhaps unable to open it . Our difficulties worsened. I felt discouraged and sad, perhaps rejected as well.

I saw my therapist Christine today.  I have shared this post and a lot more with her.  A summary of her analysis of Marge and my past is this:  I had married a child.  A wounded child at that. Of course not physically or intellectually, but emotionally.  She suggested that Marge had a low sense of self-worth and rejection, and possessed a great need to protect herself. This could go a long way in explaining Marge and her personality traits. Not asked was who did Marge marry? Now that I think about it, an awkward 9-year-old with two degrees but knew nothing of the real world.  He deluded himself into thinking he was an adult.  Now we are tossed into the sandbox of life. Margery is now confronted with the terrors of life, initially disengaged from her father, and now being married, separated from her mother her  as a protector.

Christine also asked me  why I was writing this blog and what I expected to get out of doing it.  Without thinking I blurted out “its my confession.”  I am getting from this confession  support from friends and family.  Sometimes from unknown people who just read one of my posts. This confession is mine, though as much as possible, also including words that Marge herself has left. Ironically now, I see  analogies.  I am sitting in my solitary cell (home office) typing this confession to the “cloud”, now the current buzz world for the home of most of our digital communication.  Where was God in earlier millenia? Up here in the clouds of course.  It would be a cheap grace indeed if I brushed aside the struggle and misunderstanding we had along the way. So, I am attempting to write about us in a fair and balanced way.  We faced many of the challenges that a multitude of married couples face.  I will be specific about this as I go along.  The devil truly is in the details.  The larger message I strive for is that we were once really one.  Truly together in body and spirit.  We struggled mightily along our path, and did  in our senior years get back to this oneness.

When this is finished, I believe I will have completed my grief  journey, not just about Marge’s death, but also for the ups and downs we faced in life together, our sins of omission and commission. Please continue with me in my quest for understanding.


About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
This entry was posted in Marital difficulties, Syracuse, Syracuse University and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to It was the best of years, it was the worst of years – Episode 1

  1. Allan T. says:

    Wow, Robert I am not sure if this will make you feel better or worse; I understand and “see” in us some of what you and Margery went through. I do understand(NOW) that baggage brought forth from a parent(s) can have a big effect on a marriage. I am the guilty party here, because I never understood or believed that the truth of Janice’s parents and what they did during her life at home, could really done my what I was brought up “knowing” all parents were loving to their children.
    When I learned this firsthand, our marriage became much better then the road it was headed down.

    • Bob says:

      Thanks Allan, for me, I knew that Marge’s parents had divorced when she was a Junior in High School. I had no idea how deeply this affected her outlook on men nor how socially distanced she felt as a young teen. Most of this emotional content I learned after her death while sorting through her personal files and memorabalia. We did make it through though as I am certain you know. Thanks for your continuing comments and support.

  2. Scott says:

    Hey Uncle Bob– I can really relate to this thing you call baggage. I’m positive baggage carries us through our lives. The outlet for it is going to church and forgetting about it…only to get absorbed by church retaliated activities!!! That was my outlet. I always used to say that I would never marry a woman who already had children because that would be such a tremendous amount of baggage. Yet here I am, having married Judith with 4 children! As I’ve come to find out, she’s been through a whole lot. Thanks for sharing, Uncle Bob. Scott

    • Bob says:

      Thanks Scott I believe carrying old beaten up baggage is part of the human condition. Too bad there isn’t a Dumpster we can heave this trash into. i am glad for you that you found an outlet. Your Aunt Marge gradually outgrew her baggage, but the first decade of our marriage was very difficult at times. I am happy that you and Judith, and your “ready made” family are doing well. Thank you for sharing. Bob

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