Close friends of ours are struggling - it became pretty clear recently that their marriage probably won't survive. My mind has been reeling with the meaning of that for them - the hurt, all the other feelings that must (or would for me) come with that, the logistical nightmares, the battles that lie ahead for them, no matter what good intentions they may have to be non-adversarial......
But a marriage is an abstract thing, if it dissolves, that's an abstraction also. The people involved are very real. As close as my husband and I are with these two individual people, we don't know what is behind their struggles. They are both very private people and our impulse is not to speculate.
What we did both note though is that neither one of them has seemed happy in a very long time. Happy maybe is the wrong word - there doesn't seem to have been any joy in either of them in a long time. I tried to think back, to remember when either of them had been joyful, it has been a very long time.
Joy is a very big thing for me. If you met me - you would see - i'm not silly, giddy, pollyanna, not even happy-go-lucky. I'm not the clown in the crowd, nor the one who quietly lights up a room. Neither is my husband. We are serious, hard-working, down-to-earth people. Really, awfully mundane, frankly.
But we both have joy. We see joy, we feel it, we are open to it, and we value it. It is a very big aspect of what we have between us. For that, i am most grateful.
I'm not joyful because he makes me that way. He has a lot of control of me, but he can't make me happy (or sad, or in love, or angry, or any other feeling) unless i am open to him having that impact on me. Likewise, i can't make him joyful, but i hope that i do bring him joy, that he is open to me that way and that i fulfill that for him.
People talk about the flow of power in a power exchange dynamic. There are wonderful images of rivers and yin and yang and circuits and such. And of course, there is give and a take of power, of control; there's the mundane, the service, the overseeing, the concrete that needs doing and taking care of.... That's the real brass-tacks of day to day life.
But there's also -- I find joy in him, in being with him, in being His. I believe he does in me as well. It is, i believe, an essential part of the power that flows between us.
[You should read Jz's writing about what joy is here - she does it more justice than i can.]