Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What is marriage without communication?

The first thing I found when I googled divorce after 50 was that all of the blogs seemed to be from women whose husbands had left them for a younger woman, or had an affair, or the woman had an affair.  There was nothing so dramatic in my marriage.  My husband was, as far as I know, faithful to me and I know I was faithful to him.  I never would've hurt him like that.  Really my marriage just ...died.  

There were so many different reasons I can give for why I fell out of love with my husband.  I'm sure many of them will be explored eventually in this blog.   The biggest thing that I noticed was that we stopped communicating.  It didn’t happen all at once, and I didn’t even notice it at first.  A couple of years ago I took my son to counseling for anxiety and at the first session she asked him “How is your relationship with your father?”  He answered “Fine, we don’t talk about much, mainly food.”   


I started to pay attention to my conversations with my husband, I slowly realized…he’s right!  All we talked about with him was food; what was for dinner, what would we pack for lunch, what to get at the grocery store, what great deals he found at Grocery Outlet.  Food.

I can track the demise of conversation in our marriage to several issues.   First there was his extreme avoidance of anything resembling an argument.  He’d occasionally argue with me, but for the most part if he realized I was mad about something he’d leave.  As in…get in the car and drive away.  I’d be left home with the kids and my rage. 

Secondly there was his passive aggression…for example; right after we were married I decided I wanted a new car.  He didn’t want a new car.  I didn’t know for several years that he thought no one should ever buy a new car, used cars are a better value.  Did he tell me this?  Nope, not a word.  Not when we got in my used car to drive to the car dealership, not during the 45 minute drive, not even as I sat and negotiated with the salesman.  He said “Maybe we should go to another dealership.” That was his sole contribution.  But for 5 years afterwards whenever I complained about not having enough money he’d say “I never wanted to buy that car.”  Like that was useful…why didn’t he say something at the time? 

One of my pet peeves is being interrupted.  Not so much when someone interrupts my story to ask a clarifying question that shows they are listening, but when they interject something that shows their mind is obviously wandering and they aren’t paying attention to a word I’m saying.  There must be some masochism in my psyche because my soon to be ex-husband, my sister and my best friend are HORRIBLE interrupters and it annoys me to no end.  Why do I surround myself with people with this trait?  No idea, but if while reading this blog you have any insight, please share it with me!

The death knell was rung when we bought a house in Oregon and he continued to live in California.  At the time his work supplied him with a cell phone that honestly had the worst reception on the planet.  I could usually hear him okay, but he could barely hear a word I said.  The phone also disconnected us every two minutes.  I soon learned that he would pretend he heard what I was saying even when he couldn’t.  All of the stories I was sharing about the kids and my daily life were swimming in the ether…he heard none of them.  I suggested getting him a phone on my plan so he could hear me, but he refused.  Actually his usual answer was “I don’t want a cell phone at all.”   

I heard ‘I don’t really care what you have to say.’

Soon he decided he was afraid of the radiation so he would talk to me all the time on speaker phone.  I hated that, after all when you are talking to someone on the phone you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  He’d walk into his mother’s house while talking to me and before I knew it she’d be part of our conversation.  Soon I stopped talking much at all.

He never seemed to notice.

Before long our ‘conversations’ were him telling me his day and me giving one word responses.  I kept waiting for him to notice that I wasn’t sharing my days or the kids’ days with him anymore.  I don’t think he ever did.

By the time he got a job in Oregon and moved in with us I was in the habit of sharing my day with my friends and the family I emailed.  I no longer remembered what it was like to share the little stories of our day with him.  So we talked about food, what to buy for dinner, how to cook it, what to save for lunch the next day.  It was a neutral subject that we both felt safe with.

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