Walking on Eggshells
People have commented to me that I have not written about Jeanine or our relationship in the blog for a while.
It’s because I’m afraid to rock the boat.
Things have been… nice. Calm. No rushing to make major decisions. No plans to move, build, buy, shift- just the daily chaos of life with three boys.
We are learning how to talk nice to each other. That might sound silly after fifteen years but believe me, it’s important.
Somewhere along the line, we stopped being nice. We shoved and pushed each other with our words. There was no patience, no thoughtfulness. It’s hard to have the same conversation over and over and not get annoyed with it. I know what she’s going to say, she knows what I’m going to say, so let’s get to it…
The problem? We don’t always know what the other is going to say. We forgot how to listen. We gave each other labels of ‘bossy’ and ‘demanding.’ We rolled eyes and settled into our trenches.
It made us safe- safe from disappointment, safe from the risk of being hurt, but it drove a deep wedge between us. When I stood in the garage last summer, desperate to get Jeanine’s attention, she was too far-gone to know my heart was breaking.
We had long ago stopped listening.
Sure, we could have great conversations about the world. We could discuss the kids. But the tender ear of a new lover was long lost, as was the desire to know every little thought, the nuance of each feeling.
It wasn’t a matter of choice as it was a lack of attention. The details are often shared when you are first locked in your new lover’s arms. It’s when you ask someone their favorite ice cream, when they learned to ride a bike and about the first time they fell in love. For me, the drive and desire to know every inch of her, not just her body but also her mind was because I was falling in love with her. It was new, fresh and all encompassing. I wanted to know all of her experiences. What made her smile. What made her cry. I wanted the intensity of an orgasm in my conversations with her.
Somewhere along the line, daily life intrudes. You can’t stay in bed all the time. You can’t keep up the level of intense conversations, either. Add a couple kids, mortgage, work, friends… suddenly I can’t remember the last time I sat with Jeanine and really talked. Not about who was getting the kids or how late she would be working but what were our goals for the next ten years? How did we want to grow as individuals and how did we want our relationship to grow?
It’s about being thoughtful. Daily. To take the time to lean over and kiss her in the morning before getting out of bed to let the dog out, to get Jake breakfast and to begin the day. And not just a quick smooch, but a held moment. To know what I’m doing, not out of repetition but out of a desire to be there, in that moment, with her.
Throughout the difficult times we’ve had this past year- and we have had quite a few- one constant is my love of being in bed with her. Sleeping. Okay, more than that, but we’re working with the Weezie meter here. Having her there, every morning, even when I was mad at her? It was a gift. And a reminder.
It’s something to celebrate, if but only for a moment, each day.
As we start taking careful steps to hard topics, we have to learn how to be nice again. We must remember not only to listen but how amazing it feels to be heard. For all our years together, we never forgot how to make love to each other, how to keep our bodies alive to each other’s touch.
We, however, forgot how to be thoughtful. Every day. With our words.
These first few steps are cautious. We have both been hurt by each other.
I am afraid.
We have no choice but to be thoughtful. The path in front of us is covered with eggshells.