Sunday, December 29, 2013

Men's Silences


“The holidays are cozy,” I said curled up in an armchair palming my mug of eggnog.
“It’s a good time of year,” Mr. Wonderful said throwing another log on the fire.
“No labor, no sweat.”
“Just fun times and good drinks.”
“But don’t you miss the… work?”
Silence.


Mr. Wonderful said a lot—in his silences. In fact the first six months we dated, he didn’t say a word. Of course that could have been because of me and my big, non-stop motor mouth that has to share every idea with those I care about to get their take on things and to see if we really are compatible because life and relationships are constantly in flux and by talking with each other we can air concerns and check in on with how each other’s doing and where we are heading in the grand scheme of things—

On second thought: maybe Mr. Wonderful was silent so much because I never gave him a chance to speak? ...Nah.

After a couple years of marriage I’d gotten very good at reading Mr. Wonderful’s silences. There was the silence of 1) Agreement; of 2) Disagreement; and of 3) I’m-not-going-to-touch-that-with-a-ten-foot-pole-greement.

Now this particular silence on this particular day between Christmas and New Year’s was clearly a Cat. #1 Silence—aka Agreement. Deep down I knew that he missed working at the studio, working on the house, working on the big hole in the backyard—aka the pool. Well lucky for him I had a DIY project to do!

“The kitchen cabinet interiors need to be painted.”
“Why? No one sees them.”
“I do. Every day.”
Silence.

Another silence. Wow. Mr. Wonderful was super talkative today!

When we’d moved in to The House we were so busy with our jobs and getting settled we were forced to make choices. We'd decided to paint the kitchen cabinets on the outside but not the inside. When I had lamented this choice, Mr. Wonderful countered by saying how it didn’t matter since “no one sees the inside.”

“I do. Every day,” I’d said then. He responded with a silence. Comparing our move-in exchange to our current one I realized they were exactly the same, which meant painting cabinet interiors was vitally important to me while he embraced a Cat. #2 silence—aka he totally disagreed.

How could I have not heard what he’d said then? How could I have not heard his wishes? How could I hear what his silences said if he was so dang quiet?! Ever since the Fourth of July, we’d both been busy with work, working and workers. That’s it! We were disagreeing about this DIY project because for months we just hadn’t spent enough time together. Luckily I had a plan for that!

“Let’s paint the inside of the cabinets together!”
Silence.

Incredible! He'd heard me! Now Mr. Wonderful was screaming this silence! And it was the mother of them all: a Cat. #3—aka I’m not getting involved PERIOD.

“Thanks for telling me what you want,” I said hugging Mr. Wonderful. “I’ll paint it myself.”
Silence. More Cat. #3 from my spouse! Amazing! We were having a fabulous conversation!

The New Year and its resolutions were still a few days away but here at the tail end of 2013, I realized two I’d put on my 2014 list:
1) Get some brushes, sandpaper and white paint.
2) Have more silent conversations with Mr. Wonderful!