It’s Mother’s Day and my husband has blocked off the whole day for me.
I’m so excited because we’re taking a picnic lunch to my favorite spot, and I envision lots of hand-holding, and lingering glances, and intimate conversation, as I spend the day with my best friend.
So, I ask him a great question to get the conversation started.
“What would you say to people about marriage?”
Easy question. Right? We’ve got lots of material from our soon-to-be 29 years of marriage.
He doesn’t answer.
For several minutes.
So I think maybe he thought it was a rhetorical question. I make sure he realizes I really want to hear his answer.
Another long pause.
Here is where I used to get annoyed and the dance would begin. I would say something sarcastic. He would reply gruffly. I would retort, “Fine. You don’t want to talk. Heaven forbid we connect in meaningful intimate conversation.” And then the loud silence–me all alone with the voices arguing in my imagination.
In that dance, no matter how annoyed I became, he won, and I lost. He didn’t want to get all emotionally intimate in the first place, so he’d rather have me mad at him than talk about something uncomfortable. And either way I’m feeling isolated, and banished, and alone. Well, that’s the way the dance has gone before.
But, I’m going to surprise him this time. Nothing he doesn’t say is going to bother me!
I simply tell him I understand his need for processing time, and when he’s ready I’ll listen to his answer, and then I wait quietly (and glance at the clock). It’s 11:00.
No kidding–by 11:08 I have now written all of this blog post so far, and he hasn’t said a word. He’s still processing.
I’m going to remind him of the question.
He evades the question by asking what I’m writing, and I read him the blog article I just wrote and tell him the clock’s still ticking. If he doesn’t want my entire audience to know how long it took him to respond, he’d better get a move on. We laugh. It’s now 11:12. I prompt him again. He sticks his tongue out at me; I tell him I consider that foreplay for emotional intimacy–you know the kind where you talk and respond and communicate–face-to-face, one-on-one. 😉 He laughs, but still doesn’t respond to my question.
It’s now 11:18. He admits that he’s feeling a bit of pressure, and that nothing he says is going to be right, and then he’ll just have to explain his point of view, and defend his position. Is emotional intimacy really that scary to a man?
At 11:20, I change my strategy. For fun I ask him what’s the difference between AC and DC (not the band, but the electric current–alternating and direct). He waxed eloquent for three whole minutes on the differences between alternating and direct current, the advantages and disadvantages of each, which is used in other countries. . . blah. . . blah. . .blah. It was very interesting.
I bring the conversation back to marriage by observing the parallels between AC and DC electrical current and the way men and women relate in marriage (that will have to be another blog post). But the glazed look in his eye lets me know that the opportunity for meaningful conversation is over. So, instead, we had a lovely day of hand-holding, hiking, and lingering glances. And I forget that I ever asked the question to begin with.
6:10 p.m. He walks into the dining room and answers the question. Truly. He’d been thinking about it all day, and was ready to respond.
But the wait was worth it. This is what he would tell people about marriage:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10NASB
Ladies, sometimes our man just doesn’t have an answer. He’s not holding out. He’s not trying to make us mad or ruin our day. He’s not trying to not connect with us. He just doesn’t know what to say. Change the subject and ask him about something technical or mechanical, and enjoy your day. Eventually, in his own sweet time, he’ll answer your question, and it will be worth it!