I doubt this is interesting
But then I’m never sure, to be honest. Sometimes things I think are cool elicit zero response; other times I dash off something I think is lame but then turns out to resonate. But enough – let the play say the thing…
I grew up in a family that kissed each other a lot. Hello, goodbye, good night – all marked with a formal peck on the lips or cheek. We kissed our parents good night even into our teens. It was a ritual about validation, about closure, about family togetherness. It was a way of saying that whatever had happened that day, we still loved and were loved. It was so familiar to us that we never questioned it – it was like wearing clothes or not spitting on the tablecloth: it wasn’t that it was the only possible way to operate – it was just the only one that seemed normal and right.
It was so much a part of my idea about how life works, that when I got married I couldn’t figure out what to do when Hannah almost never made an effort to kiss me good night. It sounds stupid, I know – why not just talk about it? – but to me it was so basic I didn’t even know how to approach it. It was as if someone made you breakfast in bed every morning, but never brought you any silverware. If you *asked* for silverware, they had no problem bringing you some, but no matter how many times they watched you eat with silverware, they would never bring you any without being asked.
At the beginning we were very affectionate in other ways – she kissed me hello or goodbye, for example – but not goodnight. Breakfast in bed, but no silverware… And it felt weird -- the idea of talking about it, about making a specific request for something that to me seemed so basic, and obviously for her was a complete non-issue. It can be hard to ask for what we need. And I knew she would see it as a criticism, as if I was unhappy with her. But I couldn’t shake the feeling of incompleteness I had without it.
And we’re self-centered creatures sometimes. I wanted her to notice that I needed this – why else did I go to the trouble of making it happen every single night, even if it just meant kissing her between the shoulderblades? I wanted her to read my mind, and then give me what I needed.
Eventually, I resented the way she would just plop into bed, roll over, and go to sleep. To me, it represented me making an effort to be close to her, and her not being willing to do the same. And I’m guessing she never even noticed it at all.
Of course, she must have had plenty of things like that in her mind as well – assumptions about what a husband does or is, or needs that either she didn’t express, or that she did express but I didn't understand womanspeak*, or I understood but didn’t realize the importance of it, or wasn’t willing to do it.
Anyway, this has no point except to underscore the importance of communication, of the power of the words “I feel _____.” Our communication was pretty superficial, and pretty guarded – I could tell you why, but that’s another story, and even more boring than this one...
1) MAN: What's wrong?
WOMAN: Nothing. (ie, Something.)
2) MAN: I'm going to watch the game with Bob tonight, okay?
WOMAN: Fine. (ie, Not fine.)
3) WOMAN: Silvia looked nice tonight. (ie, I need you to tell me that I'm beautiful, thin, and desireable, and you'd rather be with me than with a thousand Silvias.)
4) WOMAN: Did you see the size of the rock Doris had on her finger? I thought it looked tacky. (ie, I wish you would buy me one, but even bigger.)