On the one hand, I promised you a return to the usual—read, the fun and the funny—today.
I also kind of want to get real about something here, or at least explain why last week was so rough.*
And maybe—maybe—offer some real advice.
First, let’s address the title of this post: last night I slept in our bed for the first time in a week. I only just now put my wedding ring back on. Yep, it was that bad; I made up the guest room for myself and slept in there (which the animals loved, because they’re remarkably selfish but excellent at cuddling.) I barely spoke to my husband for a full week, even disappearing without telling him where I was going or how long I would be gone.**
I’m not going to address the thing that sparked the argument that flared into the week-long freeze-out, partly because it stopped being important within minutes (as we’ll see in a moment) but also because it’s not really the point here. The point, and the thing I learned, is this: even a very strong relationship—which I still think we have—is a fragile thing. Our slightest actions (or inaction!) have an effect. Yet we—Husband and I are not alone in this—are constantly sabotaging our partnerships, trusting that “it’ll be fine,” and “they’ll understand,” or worse, “it doesn’t matter.”
Let me give an example that is totally unrelated to last week. I have had a tote bag in the bedroom, next to our shared closet, for months now. It’s propped against the closet doors on my side in such a way that Husband can only open his door a little bit before it gets hung up on the bag. Now, once every few weeks or so he opens his closet door as far as he can and huffs about the bag, whereupon I roll my eyes and think about how not-even-a-thing it is. I mean, I could move it in like nine seconds so what’s he complaining about?
Another one: Husband occasionally gets stuffed up at night—just randomly in the middle of the night. Allergies or something, who knows. But it makes it uncomfortable for him to use his CPAP so he takes it off. And the snoring begins. So I wake up and complain about said snoring and he says he’s stuffed up and can’t use the CPAP. He doesn’t get up to take anything for the stuffiness, of course, because it’s “not so bad,” and I resign myself to reading quietly until he wakes up and I can go back to sleep; he judges me for “sleeping in,” and I quietly resent the disruption.
But I don’t say anything, because… well, because it’s a microfracture. A nothing little non-issue that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and almost takes less time to get over than it does to mention.
In each of these examples, we have sent the other a message: this very simple thing I could do to increase your comfort is too much to ask, because you’re not worth it to me.
If that sounds like an exaggeration, consider how many times recently you’ve sent your partner or loved one that same message. I know I was absolutely leveled when I realized how often I do it. And then I moved the fucking bag.
So, what happened last week? Well, a thing was said. Then someone pointed out that the thing was hurtful and an argument ensued about whether it was reasonable to be hurt by the thing. More things were said, and the argument escalated. Worse things were said. But the worst thing was that hurt feelings didn’t warrant an immediate cessation of hostility. How? Hurt feelings should be un-fucking-acceptable between us—a thing we agreed on once talks resumed a week later. But how did we get to a point where, “That was hurtful,” isn’t enough to stop a fight dead in its tracks?
I didn’t move my bag. He didn’t take a decongestant. We weren’t important enough every teeny tiny stupid insignificant step of the way. And our marriage almost slipped away, not over an argument that I’m not going to script out for you because it isn’t the point, but over a series of microfractures that weakened it over time in ways we didn’t notice.
We’re still here. We’re strong. We talked, kissed, hugged (medicinal hugs, he offered and I love him so fucking much for understanding and offering without being asked) and cuddled and talked. And there will be more talking. But mostly? We’ve really got to watch those little things.
They almost cost us everything.
* Side note: what was with last week in general? I swear it wasn’t just me—I was texting friends to say, “I’m sad, cheer me up!” and the responses I got were all variations on, “sorry, can’t help you, today has sucked nonstop without swallowing.”
** Calm your tits, Independent People; I don’t care who you’re living with, it’s just plain rude not to let them know when they can expect to see you again.