Which way is this exotic beast heading? Both ways, you say? Neither way? I think you're right.

Lorna’s fledgling self-confidence leads her down a path that she doesn’t plan and finds, shall we say, confusing…

I gently addressed my concerns with Chuck over time and martinis. He was reasonable and listened as long as I didn’t use “that tone”—the tone Husband hears as judgmental and accusatory but the tone Wife delivers as an objective assessment of a factual circumstance any judge and jury would find admissible and impressive. That tone. The problem was that he kept hearing a tone that I was deliberately avoiding. Our communication issue needed more than a voice coach to fix.

You see, he wasn't even trying to listen...

The upshot was that Chuck felt I was criticizing him for being a bad provider husband father human being and I felt that Chuck didn’t understand English.

After each time I raised a concern, Chuck turned it around and blamed me for criticizing him. I got frustrated and cried, which, unfortunately lead to “the tone,” and toddler-like sentences ending in “so there!” That only solidified his case. My only option was to retreat in shame.  After my self-imposed “time-out,” I came back to Chuck and apologized. Always. He graciously accepted my apologies and bestowed upon me helpful hints about how best to avoid such martial marital blunders in the future by adjusting my behavior. He believed in the transformative power of constructive criticism.

Outcome of Planned Action Items:

  1. The business office was more finished than our home. I clearly didn’t comprehend what it took to run a successful business and how long it takes to make a young business profitable. I also “conveniently” forgot all the “improvements” to the house and the routine benefits the business provided to us. Stop whining and be happy that I have a home with such grand “potential.”
  2. I was a lonely wife who missed her husband. I clearly didn’t understand the enormous demands and stresses he faced every day as a small business owner. Everyone “wanted a piece of him”—clients, staff, colleagues, community members, professional organizations, etc., etc., etc. Our relationship was founded on mutual values and support, not lust. Stop reading romantic novels.
  3. Our approach to disciplining Alex was different and we needed a compromise position. I clearly didn’t understand children, especially boys. Alex wasn’t as innocent as he pretended to be. Stop being so gullible. (I got him to speak with me first before punishing him since I was the one who had to enforce it. So there!)
The “Pushmi-Pullyu” was stuck, the insides quivering. Everything returned to a quiet “normal” on the outside: Chuck lead. I followed. But something shifted inside me. I didn’t know about inside of him. We were connected on the surface but so deeply disconnected otherwise.

I know I'm supposed to hear or feel something, but for some reason, I'm not getting much.

Two other things happened that changed me, thus our marriage, forever. It was still 1992, so change was in the air.
  1. Having given up on romantic novels, I began reading “New Age” books about exploring my inner divine self—mostly hoping to learn I had one. I started a daily journal because that’s what Divine Selves do. My Divine guts spilled with private hopes, frustrations, and thoughts, without fear of criticism or censorship. Chuck knew about the journal, but I never hid it in a “secret” place. I simply kept it in different Divine Places, hidden from view, trusting that journals, like those girlhood diaries with the silly locks, were Divinely sacrosanct.

    All of a sudden I had all these rectangles, arrows, words like "tone", and one suspicious lightning bolt to process. I needed a large journal.

  2. I literally ran into my former college hunk lust-object flame. He was ascending while I was descending a stairway at the college where I worked. This serendipitous event sent me into a tornado-like tail-spin. I always figured that he was the “Stud in the Glass Heart Shoppe,” breaking countless inventory on his way through; and I was just among the anonymous shards on the floor. To my utter amazement, he recognized me and said, “Lorna, is that you?” All I could muster was a nod. When I found my voice, we briefly caught each other up on 10 years worth of life. He was married with a son Alex’s age and an infant girl. Moving from Boston, he worked at a local  company managing their Information Technology Department. He never forgot me. I gave him the happy version of my life. We hugged and exchanged emails, just to keep in touch on our birthdays. He had to go back to his meeting and I had to go back to my office. I didn’t know it then, but that I wouldn’t see him again for a very long time.

That's what Mr. Super Nova looked like when I first met him. Ten years of work and family aged us both, but that Tom Selleck look-alike was still there. Now, though, he felt more like Mr. Halley's Comet: zooming in and out of my life, far from reach.

Good thing Lorna has her journal to help her sort out all the feelings swirling around in her head heart head heart