Carol and I have had very little intimate contact since the weekend getaway over a month ago. Thankfully I have pictures, otherwise I’d start to doubt that we even got sexual then. I see no interest from her and so I don’t bother trying. This is something we need to talk about.
You know the stereotype of women always talking about their feelings? I would abso-fucking-lutely love if that were the case in my life. Instead, it’s always got to be me initiating the talks. I’m going to have to bring up sex to her, once again. And it’s going to look like I’ve got the problem because I bring it up first.
Last week, I had Sarah with me at work since she wasn’t feeling well enough to go to school. Partway through the day, Carol came to pick her up. She was in a hurry so she gathered up Sarah and gave me a quick kiss before turning to leave. She saw a look on my face and asked if anything’s wrong. I said ‘no’.
An hour or so later, I was thinking about that interaction, that Carol might be wondering if I was angry with her or something. I told her to call me when she was free.
“Hello, what’s up?” She asked.
“I know I gave you a look,” I said.
“Yes, you did. I thought maybe it was because I was in a hurry…”
“It’s because you tasted like cigarettes,” I replied.
“It kind of threw me off,” I said. “Then I wondered if you were smoking in the car again. I don’t want the kids riding in a car that smells like smoke. It stunk really bad when we were separated.”
“Oh, no, I had a smoke with (co-worker who also hides her habit) earlier in the morning. I know, I don’t smoke in the car anymore.”
“I don’t care if you smoke. You don’t seem to be addicted, otherwise you’d have to sneak out for smoke breaks when you’re home with us for the day. You seem to be able to go a couple days without.”
“More like a couple weeks, sometimes months,” she replied.
“But it makes me wonder… are you angry with me?”
“Because of the way you acted last night and this morning. You seemed off. And when you smoke, I think it’s because you’re stressed or angry.”
“No, I’m not angry with you. It’s work. Four people just quit. I was smoking and bitching about that. I couldn’t sleep last night because I kept stressing over it.”
“Oh. Here I am thinking you were acting that way because of me and you were probably thinking I was mad at you because of my dirty look. Why can’t we just talk? That solves all our problems!” I said.
“I know! We should do this more,” Carol replied.
That was a little misunderstanding cleared up by communication. It was hard to do. I hesitated on it. But finally, I decided to talk to her. I just wish she would bring things up first once in a while.
Yesterday, I was filling out a questionnaire provided by our counsellor to help determine how we are in close relationships.
I finished it and exclaimed, “Of course, it says I’m anxious! In our relationship, you give me no feedback so I have to fish for it.”
“Well, according to my test, I’m secure, so I don’t feel the need to express myself that way.”
“You’re ‘secure’? Ha. That’s funny. I’m getting real fed up with this counselling,” I said as I left the room.
A few minutes later, Carol walked past me then stopped and turned around.
“You’re angry about the tests?” She asked.
“Yes, it says you’re secure and I’m anxious, so now the counsellor can continue to tell me how I’m the problem in our relationship, just like how she tells us that what you did is somehow my fault.”
“That’s not what she meant.”
“It sure as hell sounded like it.”
“It’s not what she was trying to say though.”
“Well, what I’m supposed to do about it? I give you attention so you feel loved, so you don’t have to guess.”
“But that’s not what I need.”
“But you don’t show me anything. I don’t know how you feel. I hardly feel anything anymore…” I said, looking at the TV. A show I had no interest in was playing. I thought about how strongly I used to feel about Carol, how passionate I was about my hobbies. It’s just not there right now. My soul is missing.
I snapped out of it.
“We need to talk about it. I thought that’s what we were going to counselling for. She told me in my individual session that we’d get to the bottom of it so it doesn’t happen again. But then, we get together and she says, ‘that’s for you to sort out in individual counselling’. Then she quickly sums it up as me not meeting your needs, which I don’t agree with at all, then she works on these rules where we ask each other how our day was so I can’t ask you how you’re feeling and we can’t take the time to talk about this,” I said.
“Those aren’t hard rules, we can talk,” Carol replied.
“When? I thought we were supposed to do that in counselling. Instead, I sit there being told I’m all wrong. I feel like I’m getting ganged up on there.”
“I think you were too. She spent most of the time talking to you.”
“Then what do we do in the meantime? You still don’t talk. You’ve hardly changed at all.”
“I’m trying. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do.”
“Live out our miserable lives, I guess. You’re just not much different than before. I don’t know if you want to be here or…” I was running out of energy for this. I was suddenly done talking.
“I do. I just don’t know how to feel about-”
“Okay,” I said again, shutting down the conversation.
Carol’s eyes welled up and she left the room.
A while later, I found her lying on the bed, watching TV. She reached for me, held me, and ran her fingers through my hair. I didn’t feel much for her but I kissed her and held her anyway.
“I guess if the counsellor isn’t going to help, we need to make our own time to talk about what happened,” I said.
‘What happened‘? Boy, are you kidding me? Tell it to her straight. Don’t be a coward, said Joe.
“We can take a break from marriage counselling if you feel it’s not helping,” Carol said. “Maybe we can just focus on our individual counselling for a bit.”
That was the end of the conversation but we have a long way to go with our communication.
And it’s so, so exhausting.