What do you talk about?

A few nights ago, Matt + I snuck away from our children for two hours to grab a quick bite at Yum Bakery. He ordered a chuck burger, while I ordered fish tacos, and, as we waited for our food to arrive, we talked about our lives.

Then I noticed the couple seated beside us. Neither spoke. The guy spooned up soup while the gal stared at the wall. They both knew the silence wasn’t right, I’m sure. Only she didn’t know how to get out what was inside her, and he probably couldn’t put his finger on what it was.

Matt and I laughed about it over a cappuccino. Because in hindsight we knew how awkward that sort of silence is, how bottomless it feels, how you wish you had something to say to one another, but whenever you try to break the barrier, the same things bubble up. Anger. Resentment.

And six months ago, I had excuses for both of us: Matt exhausted his need for conversation at work. I was worn out from caring for three kids all day, and lacked the energy for light flirtations. But then we got in a fight I’ll never forget, and from it I took away two things: one, a marriage is not guaranteed forever, and two, I can walk away if I want. And I realized I didn’t want to walk away. I wanted to stay. Only I wanted things back to the way they were between us.

But conversation between us had sputtered and died. And so we started anew. After dinner, we gave our kids a choice: they could play outside or upstairs, but now, right now, Mom and Dad were going to talk. Because we believe what’s central to our children’s well being is a strong family unit, and we can’t build that without giving it the same gift we give our children: the gift of time.

That night not much was said. And not much the night after that either. But we stayed at it, and eventually words came back to us. And the funny thing was it wasn’t that we had nothing to say. It was that we had forgotten how to pay attention. And now the silence has left us.

What do you talk about with your spouse? And when do you find time to connect?

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07. May 2010 by Jennifer Jeanne Patterson
Categories: Marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 comments

Comments (8)

  1. Great post, very helpful, more food for thought. I applaud your courage to share, it really helps the rest of us. Thank you.

  2. I am always so sad when I see those couples out to dinner and not talking. And I agree, it reminds me that we need to focus on ourselves, for the sake of all of us. Great reminder.

  3. I’m going to have to stop reading your posts – they make me choke up over my coffee each morning! You two are strong, amazing, and inspirational. I’m so glad you write about this and I”m so glad I found you!

  4. I soo have been there…& we started dating again!! :) I thought I was blissfully married until I went out with a girlfriend & i heard myself complaining about how tired I was of staying home so much & that I had started to resent that my husband could do whatever he wanted whenever he watnted & that he didn’t ASK to go to the store :)

    I had never been a complainer & I didn’t like it. I reaized then that we had to make a few changes…I needed to get A life back :) I started going out with friends more often & can you believe it…I actually leave kids with him & go to the store on my own :) Sad that I didn’t even know I could DO that :) But 3 kids later we have it figure out & we have things to talk about again :)

    I am really enjoying peeking through your blog…so real…refreshing! I have to admit something though :) …I wasn’t sure what the blog pantry was…I thought it was like subscribing to get your posts…so I am sorry I didn’t realize it is for events & things…I feel a little dumb :) So if you would like to remove me so you know who is in your group that would be fine with me…but I still will be bothering you with my comments on here :)

    thanks!
    Libbie

  5. I agree with Molly. Seeing couples not talking, not enjoying themselves is just heartbreaking, although what’s worse is that I recognize us in that scenario. More than I want to. Our issues of terse and forced conversation have come not from outside sources, but within the walls of our own home. He works from home and I’ve been unemployed. 24/7 togetherness has it’s own strain on a relationship. We wanted to talk, but there was nothing to say. We knew it all from being around each other all the time. That in itself is a terrible burden. Thankfully it’s better now that I am gone, busy and learning a new job. Our moments of silence now are easier.

    Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. It’s so nice that the two of you know your priorities amidst the challenges of your life.

  6. Oh, how I love fish tacos, especially when they’re shared over a quiet dinner with my husband. And he doesn’t like the guacamole, so it’s a double-win for me!

    We always try to talk about things other than the kids, but it usually takes us a while to get away from that. Then, it’s all about our plans and dreams and hopes and “one days” … We still like to build our future, even as we enjoy our present.

  7. I was one of those couples…. on the rare occasion we could actually get out for a date, it was pretty common that we would either NOT talk, or argue enough that we’d cancel the date and head home early. Now we are getting divorced.

    Not all marriages can be saved by talking, but talking is a good start. I’m glad you found a way through your rough patch and turned it around.

  8. It’s difficult to get time to talk without kid interruptions. Plus, it feels like whenever we get a sitter it’s to go out with other couples, weddings, birthdays, etc. We rarely go out and it just the two of us. Our favorite “stay at home” date is take-out sushi after the kids are in bed. It definitely has to be a conscious decision to make time to talk…but it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and kids.

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