Last day at my parents’ and everything is sort of fine, except that I have a cold and I have been reminded again that all is not as dandy in my 20-year relationship with Char as I like to tell myself.
Nothing special has happened, just another of those episodes where I say something I think is innocent, often something I say to help and she takes it as some kind of criticism and gets irritated.
There are plenty of variations on this one, and on more than one occasion I am indeed the guilty party, especially if I know what I am saying is not so innocent, in its tone at least. The usual suspect here is if I feel I am giving too much time away to look after Jay or something similar and then I tend to say things in an increasingly annoyed or ‘feel-sorry-for-me’-ish tone, when we discuss who is to do what. Instead of just saying that I really need a break and asking what can we do to make it so. So much for equality in 2017, ha. So much for my vaunted experience as a middle-aged man who has had scores of human relationships, ha.
But the other way around, where the guilty arrow points directly at Char is in situations as I first outlined. She may complain about something, like her iPhone not working properly and I begin to make suggestions to help and then she says ‘I just want you to say you feel sorry for me’.
Like … we’ve been here a thousand times and it should – should – be better now that we’ve known each other for so long.
In a way, though it is. We both end up reaching out after each little skirmish. Either me or her. We reach out and say: “I don’t want us to argue – what can we do.”
And we patch up.
So I suppose it’s half a victory.
But also a sign, I think, of something more fundamental – but repairable – which is wrong: We have neglected the sweetness.
In the middle of the usual waves:
- my mother’s cancer
- Jay’s hard birth
- taking care of baby 24/7 – learn how
- being chased out of our apartment for long weeks
- my struggle to earn from my business
… we have not consciously taken time out to plan some things that felt sweet for us. And no, I’m not thinking about sex. We are still far from that, because Char still doesn’t feel crazy about her body after the cesarean and with Jay having ‘colonized it’. And I can wait.
Sex is not important. But sweetness is.
Relaxation. Good times. Together.
Obviously not travel or big projects like before, but just small stuff. Small, but important stuff.
So we should see to it in the new year that we take more time off together – maybe go to another city and just loaf, go more to cafes and a bit on restaurants. We have to dig into Char’s inheritance and maternity leave insurance, unless I make more money soon. But I think it is necessary.
And yes, these are sweet activities we can do with Jay – i.e. without a sitter. He is still very young and it would be a lot to leave him for a night with someone else. It would not work yet.
But go a bit more out together (and with Jay) that would work. Maybe going to another city and playing tourists. Just that.
It will be enough. For now.
But we have to do it!