Unspoken Words

The unspoken words in my house are palpable. Words that ought to be said but are not. Conversations that never happen, or are heard only in my head. Silent dialog.

My wife is the kind of woman who always puts the other person on his back foot. That’s the way she defends herself. Her style of communication is one that demands a responsive need to defend, apologize, or make amends. She answers questions with questions. She is always right. She plays the superior professional psychologist’s card in subtle ways she may, at this point, not even be aware. It’s her second nature to evaluate, judge, and define.

Of late her stock reply to any comment I make about politics, the state of the media, goings on at our mutual swimming and rowing club, is, “and what are you doing about it?” It’s a put-down, and is meant as one. It’s a discussion ender, not an opening.

Perhaps this is her way of telling me in so many unsaid words that she can’t wait for me to be out of her house. She no longer tells me where she’s going. She doesn’t have to, though I tell her my whereabouts. I have to ask if I want to know. There is a margin of civility.

Her excuse about my writing holds little water. I understand her intense desire for privacy. I don’t share it, but can appreciate it in others. Yet, even after I removed my chronicle from my blog she continues not to communicate.

So all bets are off.

It’s hard for me to understand how my wife might describe a love relationship. Is there underneath her deep need for independence an actual desire to be loved by someone? She rejected my love for her. My loving her was not what she wanted, or wanted in some way foreign to me, that I was unable to fulfill. She never asked me to be any way with her, except not to be so present, so there all the time. I think my loving her was a burden—that within herself there was no way she could return my love so she had, in the end, to reject it as being too much.

What I’ve found hurtful has been her inability to accept me as I am, as a whole and complete person who’s OK as he is. Since the beginning I’ve felt that my wife thinks of me as incomplete, a man needing to be better than he already is. Whatever I’ve done has been not enough. (She thinks of herself in the same way. Self-punishment and punishment of others go hand-in-hand.)

I don’t think she ever liked who I was, nevertheless finding it within herself to marry me. She said she responded to my OKCupid profile because I was a swimmer and loved books. That’s a beginning. Yet our backgrounds are entirely different, and mine, as a class and type, she condemns. When we told her good friend Lee we were getting married he spent an hour exhorting her not to marry me. In front of me he repeatedly said, “You can’t marry him.” What kind of fiancé accepts that? I should have stepped aside then and there. Lee remains her friend and I am divorced. Now I know what kind of fiancé she was.

If my wife were to talk to me, now, in these last two weeks of being together, what would I say to her? I cannot presume to know what she would say to me beyond what she’s already said.

I would say that I loved her, and love her still.

I would say that I need to be away from her, from her judgments and fault-finding.

I would say that I know in my head that a better life awaits me.

I would say that my heart yet aches.

I would say that everything I’ve said and written is true for me, without distortion, hyperbole, or exaggeration.

I would say I resent her refusal to find another way to be together.

I would say I don’t know how we could be together. But not seeking a way is a moral failure.

I would say I want to be alone for a while.

I would say I will miss her forever.


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