We’ve been together for a long time. And while we still like each other quite a bit, like all relationships, ours ebbs and flows. We still miscommunicate. And we still know exactly how to annoy the shit out of each other.
One day we’re so in sync that I can finish your thoughts for you or anticipate the exact thing to say that will make you laugh your ass off. You’ll grab my hand in the parking lot, and we’ll twine our fingers together in a way that feels like us. We poke fun at each other and crack up over the inappropriate jokes that the kids don’t understand. We go to Target together and it’s actually fun, instead of torture. We marvel with each other about this life we’ve created together. How lucky we are.
And then in the next moment, we are moving in different directions going 100 miles per hour. We rush through our mornings together, getting kids ready, not making eye contact, attending to all the little details except for each other. I’m sensitive and you’re…not. Everything feels insurmountable — work, life, just making it through the day. We can’t communicate even the simplest things, like what should we have for dinner? Just that question turns into a full-blown argument, and then we’re both mad about being mad at 8 o’clock in the morning.
In this moment, when we are glaring at each over the rims of our coffee cups, I know you want to fix it. I know you can’t see past wanting to fix it. Your every strand of DNA demands that you fix the situation quickly so that we can move on with our lives. You talk and talk, thinking that the sound of your voice is going to change the situation from annoying to perfectly fine.
It’s not. Trust me.
I know that I settle into the weight of my feelings in a way that is so frustrating to you. I don’t know what to say, I have to feel them all, in the same way that you need to fix it all. I’m quiet and standoffish because I can’t just flip from mad to okay in 10 seconds like you can. A countertop and our chromosomes stand between us, making us different and separate from each other.
And then sometimes, the bigger things in life will creep up. Money, kids’ stuff, aging parents, renovations, life goals not met, trouble at work, sickness, injuries. If you’re together long enough, the big things always have a way of showing up.
If you can’t fix it, you feel helpless.
If I can’t feel the feeling surrounding whatever it is, I want to crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head.
Feeling is not fixing, I know. And I’m sorry.
But what I don’t need is to rehash the argument 10 times to see where each of us went wrong.
I need touch. I need connection. I need to know we are in this shit-pile together.
I don’t need an ever expanding bubble of worry-your worry on top of my own worry. Sometimes I want to be the only one who is worried.
I need you to act like it’s all under control sometimes. Just pretend.
What I don’t need is to talk about the same argument we had about this same subject five years ago, proving that you were right.
I need to know that I can reach across that counter top and grab your hand and say, “Just please stop talking for a minute.” And you will stop talking. And it’s okay.
What I don’t need is when we both blow things out of proportion. How an argument about dinner turns into how in world are we going to send our kids to college? I don’t even know how this happens, but it does.
When life is rough, I need touch. I need eye contact. But mostly, I need time. Even five minutes of silence would work sometimes.
Did I mention that I might need some silence?
We are different, which is good. This means that we need different things from each other when life becomes a little bit more than we bargained for. So next time, oh god I know there will be a next time, I’ll try to listen to all of the talking because I know that’s what you need.
And maybe you’ll not talk quite so much and hug me instead. Maybe?