One evening, a few nights ago, I was lying in bed next to my husband. We were both tired after a long day and were similarly engrossed in our thoughts, of the day gone by, the one that lay ahead, all that needed to be done, stuff like that. We were having one of those, silently-reading-in-bed and thinking about battles ahead moments (am reading David Mitchell, by the way, and for those who haven’t read him, I highly recommend him) I had a hectic day planned – visit to the pediatric ophthalmologist, then to a birthday party, then rush home in time for the maid to leave, take the kids for their swimming lessons, call the electrician for the AC that’d started to make disturbing noises etc etc, you know working out the logistics in my head. My husband was lost deep in thought too, but his were, well, different, to say the least – crunching numbers, selling companies, handling employees and their emotions and the like. Not to put myself down, but compared to his, my list was full of mundane if vexing chores; his, probably both worrisome as well as mentally fatiguing. So we lay in bed reading, interrupted only with to-the-point conversations about this and that, such as “did my credit card arrive today, it’s about to expire”, or “how was the kids’ swimming lesson?”
There are times in everyone’s life, I am certain, when you have moments of extreme clarity, like you’d just spotted the obvious, which had been under your nose all the time. These crop up suddenly, almost without warning, seemingly out of nowhere, much like the Eureka moments that make everything lucid at once. Well, I had one of those that night. I realized why the distance that’d crept in between us had the dangerous potential of turning into an abyss.
This distance, I realized, had a perfectly logical and quite frankly a very valid explanation. We had sunk into such different worlds that on a day to day basis we had very little in common with each others’ lives. People at his work, understandably, knew much more about him and the issues that face him than I did. At my end, the mommy friends I’ve made in recent years around swings in parks knew more about the angst I feel as a mother or the issues that face me. True we try and involve each other in our lives, but that can only happen that much. I cannot begin to understand all the pressures he faces and he cannot relate fully to the life I lead. Our days could not be more different. And that’s where the danger lay. No matter how hard we try, at the end of the day we have such dissimilar events to deal with that we seem to be living on completely diverse planes.
Not that I didn’t know this earlier, but that night, somehow it became clear to me that something had to be done. We absolutely had to find a common ground and that could not be the children and the home alone. Something else needed to bind us. Yes there was love and friendship, but that’s something that needs to be worked on constantly. You cannot just lie there and say – ok so we have different lives but that’s quite alright because there is this marriage and love and all that jazz. No, that’s not enough, not near enough. You have to connect mentally – that’s what was was so clear to me that night. I can’t talk markets and numbers like he can and he can’t put in his bit about running the house, but surely there’s stuff we could find to talk about that was removed from or not connected to the life we lead together.
Mental stimulation. Yes, that’s what we needed. That is what would keep us on a somewhat level field.
I am not sure if I make sense, but this is something I’ve only just fully understood. I mean I knew it, but somehow lost the thread in all the domesticity and the gap just crept in on us.
I suggested (not letting him in on my new-found epiphany, of course) that we watch a film – The Great Gatsby. We’ve both read the book and loved it. So we did and it was a wonderful idea. We came home talking about the film, the book, the let down (if you’ve read the book, you cannot like the film, Leonardo notwithstanding) and a whole lot of things that we’d forgotten about.
Not once did we talk about the kids or the house.