“I just, you know, can’t take this any more,” I said, trailing off into tears in that office, as the advisor passed me a box of kleenex.
“This situation has been very hard on my wife too,” my husband said, referring to what happened over two weeks ago. Technically, it happened to him — but not according to my tears.
These past couple of weeks, we’ve knocked on doors together, even if John did the talking. We’ve discussed next steps, even though John will have to take them alone. We’ve held each other in the dark, and taken turns crying in offices.
In Chinese, they call it tónggāngòngkǔ (同甘共苦), sharing the sweetness and the sorrows, as well as tóngzhōugòngjì (同舟共济), the Chinese version of “we’re in the same boat.” In practice, we know the words all too well. We’ve weathered my sudden job loss and Chinese visa problems, his US visa denial, separation when my company sent me to Taiwan, and months of transitioning to life in the US. We’ve always shared everything in life, and now we share again, even if we wish it weren’t so.
But the other day, I smiled after John repeated the words tónggāngòngkǔ like our daily mantra. “Maybe this trouble isn’t so bad after all,” I said. “Because our relationship isn’t the trouble, it’s our strength.”
What do the ideas of tónggāngòngkǔ and tóngzhōugòngjì mean to you? How have you experienced them as a couple or a family?