She doesn’t talk to him about the thoughts that have been rattling around in her brain all day because he has worked a 10 hour day (like he does every day), and she doesn’t want to interrupt the first moment of quiet he’s had in 22 hours with talk of adulting. The last moment of quiet he will get until tomorrow at 9pm. The second the kids finally fall asleep.
Her: How was your day?
Him: Busy! Working hard. You?
Clinical. Souless. He doesn’t ask any questions about her day other than “How was your day?” or “Anything interesting happen today?” Because the answer is always an unenthusiastic “Good!”. He tries to make conversation, but she doesn’t know how without seeming like a wife. She wants to be his friend right now.
She’s too busy trying to think of a conversation topics that don’t have to do with responsibility, but that’s all they really have in common anymore, other than sharp wit and sharper tongues.
That cleverness is what drew them to each other in the beginning, when they battled playfully through texts (all day) with words that quickly turned to flirting. Flirting that turned even more quickly into love. The kind of love that takes you without your permission (They both tried to resist). She could take his jokes, and send a barb right back. He had a mischievous cat’s smile, and understood her mind.
They still have those moments sometimes, watching Netflix in bed, or teasing each other in the kitchen (He’s eating ice cream from the carton. Her T-shirt is inside out). When they see each other. Which isn’t often.
Kids. Careers. House.
It all leaves little to no time with each other. It’s especially hard when your love is also your best friend. The one that if you didn’t live together, you would NEVER cancel dinner or drinks with no matter how tired you were, because you love being near them just that much. You long for them. It would be poetic if it weren’t so sad.
Does this sound familiar to you? It’s all too familiar for me.
Some couples connect over a shared hobby, or lifestyle. We connect over words. We could write movie scripts, he and I. Dashing Hero. Foul Mouthed Heroine. That is us.
As a stay-at-home-mom, much of what goes on in my day-to-day life is not only pretty boring, but also not the type of talk that is playful, fun, or sexy. All of which I want to be to him. I have no material. I haven’t for months.
It doesn’t help that I am a woman who is fretful. No matter how much I try to control it or hide it. In my head I am imagining that to him, I am an obligation. We used to rush out the door to be together. Now one of is rushes out the door to be with friends, leaving the other behind with the kids. We used to rush to each other. I miss that. Now our time together seems like the last thing on the priority list. When did we stop being friends?
I tell him so one day after I start crying in the kitchen because he nagged me about something small and totally reasonable. Inconsequential. It all comes pouring out. That in my head I imagine the kids moving out someday and we will end up divorcing, because with them gone, we’ll have nothing in common anymore. That we both are suspicious that the other resents them. That I miss his cat’s smile. He says he misses my texts. My conversation. I tell him we’re not even friends anymore.
He looks shocked. Pained.
‘That’s unacceptable’ he says.
‘What do we do?’
He and I have always stood back to back in our hustle. Taking on hurdle after hurdle as a team. We are a perfect rhythm and flow. We don’t doubt each other. We just know that the other one will be there in the clutch. But what happens when back-to-back-warriors turn around and face each other?
‘I don’t know’ I say. But I am already feeling a weight lifted just having said it. Instantly I feel a little more ‘known’ to him. I have been carrying this feeling like a horrible chest restricting backpack and all of a sudden I feel free of that feeling, only for it to be immediately replaced by a sense of responsibility.
I have been stupid, I realize. In my head I’ve thought “If he wants to spend time with me, he will.” When I should have been thinking “How can I remind him that I love him. How can I revive our easy, effortless conversations? How can I make him remember how he felt in the beginning?”
It’s crazy how just having the dreaded ‘elephant in the room’ conversation made things infinitely more clear. I brought attention to the problem before either of us became resentful. I was lucky that I spit it out like arsenic, because that’s what it was- poison.
Today we dozed on the couch together like kittens in a spot of sun, with no phones in our hands. We looked each other in the eyes. We kissed each others cheeks. Just like we used to. Not because I came up with conversational gold, but because I started the conversation to begin with.