Last Friday, the hubs and I attempted to go on a date.
I don’t know how often married people are SUPPOSED to date…but what relationship experts and the interwebz dictate is that you should go on an actual date periodically. You need to break away from the routine of work and cleaning and taxes and laundry and bills and kids and all the AAAAAAUUUUGGGHHHH in life and spend some time just existing as a couple.
I’ve mentioned before that I travel quite a bit; this takes me out of town a couple weekends a month. Over the last few months, the hubs and I have been on opposite schedules – he’s been out of town when I’ve been back home, and vice versa. The result is that we haven’t had a weekend together since January.
Finally, last weekend, the stars briefly realigned, and we found ourselves expecting a few days at home together.
All week, the hubs expressed how much he was looking forward to our weekend…to spending time together. He texted me daily with his anticipation, and told me again when I arrived home from work in the evenings.
But the weekend got closer and closer, and although the hubs had thoroughly communicated how much he was looking forward to it…we hadn’t actually gotten around to planning anything.
When Thursday came around, I broached the subject. My “so…what shall we do this weekend?” was met with “I don’t know. What do YOU want to do?”
I haaaaaate that answer.
Because we ALL know that it means, “I don’t really want to come up with any suggestions or ideas, but if I don’t like what YOU pick, I don’t have to take any blame for not enjoying it all that much.”
I went through that on my birthday last summer. And I experienced this REPEATEDLY with my ex’s family….
<cue painful flashback>
Me: So where do you want to go for dinner?
Ex’s Family: I don’t care. Anywhere is fine.
Me: Any suggestions? Preferences?
Them: Nope, anything will be good.
Me: Seriously. What do you people feel like eating?
Them: Whatever you want will be fine, I’m sure.
Me: OK. How about Chinese food?
Them: Eh. I don’t really care for that.
Me: Well, what about <insert local family restaurant that is mediocre at best, but I’m flipping STARRRRVING so I’ll take a sadness sandwich with flaccid fries at this point>
Them: Well, that’d be OK, I guess…but we just ate there Tuesday.
Me: Pizza, then. Everybody likes pizza!
Them: Pizza gives us heartburn. But if YOU want it….
Me: <explodes into guttural caveman war cry; whips out machete and Lizzie Bordens them all into confetti and dances on their entrails>
(Side note: Don’t eff with me when I’m hungry.)
Now, I know some spouses don’t “do” planning – perhaps you know a couple like this, or maybe you’ve lived this role. No, it’s not fair, but that’s just the dynamic you get sometimes, and you can choose to be mad for a lifetime over something that will never, ever change, or you can accept your fate as the household travel agent and at least ensure you book the hotel chain that actually washes the blankets.
But for those weekends where I’ve been out of town, and he’s been home, the hubs has managed to fill his dance card to the brim with things to do, places to go, and people to see.
So it’s obvious he’s perfectly capable of planning something.
If it’s important.
So I started the weekend kind of dejected that I didn’t make the priority list. And it was apparent that if we were going to have plans, I was going to have to be the one to come up with them.
So I figured I’d try to salvage the date a bit by picking something I’d enjoy. I decided to look at comedy clubs. I live in a pretty large metro area, and we have several to choose from. And we’d never been to one, and this might give us a chance to laugh together. Plus… booze. Comedy + alcohol HAS to be promising…right?
I poked around online and found that Pete Correale was performing at the club closest to us. I’d never heard of the dude (because I don’t have cable, and I live in a cave), but the comedy club PROMISED it was a hot act, and the trailer looked OK. So I bought tickets, put on
something sexy a thick sweater and jeans, because even though it’s April, it’s freaking sleeting outside (come ON, Mother Nature, catch up here, my Christmas tree is finally put away so you can let Spring in now) and waited for the hubs to come home so we could start our date.
He came home a bit early, which was great. The show wasn’t for another four hours, so he suggested we head over early to eat (the club is on the top floor of one of our local highbrow malls; there were plenty of great food options there), and then we could just browse around until the show started.
(In hindsight, this is where it started to go south. A good writer would call this “foreshadowing.” The hubs HATES the mall, generally. He swiftly loses patience with the lollygaggers, aisle-hoggers, and aimless tourists who lack both general direction AND peripheral vision, and quickly bores with the sport of elbowing people out of his way. Yes, he was the one suggesting we go early, but dangit, I KNOW this song, and the ending is the same every time it plays.)
The hubs went to change out of his work clothes. And he came out – for our date – for our first evening together in MONTHS – in one of THOSE shirts. One of those shirts that states his beliefs boldly across his chest – right at eye-level for me. One of the shirts that blasts like an LED-powered billboard how spiritually far apart we are.
The shirt looked something like this:
On the surface, I know this isn’t that bad. He has every right to state his beliefs publicly. And it’s not in-your-face offensive, like a lot of the shirts he agreed to throw away.
But still. It’s a public testimony to all the things not OK about this marriage. It’s a reminder that he and I might not work this relationship out.
And he chose THAT to wear on our date.
And I chose to say nothing.
I mean, I don’t want to gut the mood, right? I’ve been looking forward to this evening all week – no reason to start it on a sour note.
Shake it off, Kate. Put on your happy hat.
We head to the mall, and I lead him to a pizza place that I’d recently tried. Dinner actually went well – pizza is kind that way. Plus, I was absolutely ravenous – I hadn’t eaten all day, because, you know, dinner out has more calories than I normally get in a
So. Dinner. Then we had three hours to kill before the show started.
We walked the mall, checking out the tchotchke shops. Things were…pleasant, I guess.
It wasn’t overly romantic. It wasn’t hostile or tense.
It was just…kinda flat.
About an hour into our strolling, he sneered. Made a sound.
“That guy down there. The one selling pillows. He had to pull his cross out of his shirt just now, so everybody could see it, I guess. Look, the guy in the poster has it too. I don’t know why he needs to do that.”
Um. Dude. May I direct your attention to your shirt?
The one with HERETIC in bold letters?
The irony phone’s ringing, but his cell’s clearly on vibrate.
And I chose – again – to say nothing.
Because it’ll put a damper on the mood. Because I don’t want to pick a fight. Because I don’t have the energy to address the issue, not at the end of a busy week in a crowded shopping mall. Because I’m afraid the next straw will be the last one, and this delicate, fragile relationship we’re whispering and tiptoeing around will shatter into tiny splinters, irreparably and permanently broken.
We headed up to the show, and thankfully, it was good for some hearty laughs – and some yummy drinks. I enjoyed the break from the tension, as well as my personal “sunset”:
But, despite the laughs…the evening left me disappointed.
I reminisced about our early dates, where we’d talk and laugh over beer and nachos well into the wee hours; where we’d hold hands and just be content with each other’s company.
And I realized something.
If tonight had been our first date, it probably would have been our last. I would have seen that, although the evening was pleasant enough, and he was a generally likeable guy, we just had differences too big to ignore.
How does a couple go from being so crazy in love, so absolutely CERTAIN of their insanely aligned compatibility, to “I don’t know if I can do this”?
How does the landscape shift so violently in such a short time? And when it does, why is no one able to identify exactly where the volcano started or where the meteor fell?
And how does this happen to two intelligent, emotionally stable, experienced adults?
We could try to blame the whole Ashley Madison “incident.” But…that’s a symptom. Not a cause.
People change. They’re constantly changing. And they don’t always change together.
I feel like I’m on an island, watching him standing on a boat docked just out of my reach.
He’s drifting farther and farther away.
If I go to him – if I jump onto the boat – will it tip over, drowning us both?
If I don’t vault high enough, far enough…how long will I stay afloat in the icy water?
The boat sways.
Do I have the faith to leap?