I never thought this would happen to us. From the beginning, we’ve been told we were the perfect couple. Happy, in love, kind to one another. We have always been respectful and supportive of each other. We see eye to eye on so many things; we rarely fight. Our marriage seemed almost too easy.
But maybe being too easy is what has made it so easy, slowly, over time, for me to stop noticing you.
It wasn’t intentional. I’d like to think it was gradual. So gradual, in fact, that neither of us saw it happening.
At first, we were just less intimate. I’m not just talking about having less sex, but less touching—less holding hands, hugging, snuggling on the couch. Our perfected cuddle (remember how we used to be so amazed how we fit together “just right?”) was displaced by computers on our laps. Our catch-up-from-the-day conversations interrupted by sitcom after sitcom, both of us exhausted and mindlessly watching yet another rerun until it was time for bed.
We had nothing left to give by the end of the day, so we gave up on each other. Something had to slide; it was all just too much. So I let you go. I didn’t mean to; it just…happened. Our humor faded over time, as we stopped making the effort to be funny. Or maybe I just stopped being funny. Either way, I noticed I no longer made you laugh.
And we were busy. Oh, so busy. Work, kids, school, social circles, lunches, our phones, life. I run the household, so pretty much All Things Home fall on my shoulders. I became overwhelmed, irritable, expectant. You became distant, distracted. It felt like your work was taking you away from us, and you didn’t really seem to mind. I hated your work with such a fiery passion because it kept me from hating you. And you resented that misdirected anger.
I became your drill sergeant, barking out orders and demanding things be done. I felt I had to because you certainly wouldn’t know what to do, and I couldn’t do it all by myself—although God knows I tried.
So I snapped, you recoiled, and we fell into a pattern. If I was frustrated, you didn’t see it. If you were fed up, I tried not to notice. Things had to get done, and it was easier not to fight about it, so we just tolerated it. We tolerated each other. We didn’t see any other way, even though this way felt monotonous and grating.
And there it was; we became complacent with one other.
What was once the “perfect marriage” started to feel more like a partnership.
I stopped feeling loved. I felt the things you used to find cute and funny were now just annoying to you, all the time. I felt less cared for and often outright resented. You stopped noticing me, much of the time, which is almost worse than being in a fight.
And I realized I stopped noticing you, too. I stopped kissing you goodbye in the mornings, hugging at night. Even making eye contact became a rare event. I stopped hearing you, truly listening to your words and responding with something meaningful. I stopped caring about the things that interested you because I didn’t have the time or the bandwidth. I tuned you out, too busy or distracted by other things I had let become more important than you.
And I didn’t like it. I was letting all these other things take over the space that was for you. Because really, when I met you, that was it. You became my everything. You were my constant, my sounding board, my shoulder, my rock, my space, my shelter, my home. I let you have all of me because you were my match. We fit together, perfectly. Nothing came between us.
Until suddenly, overnight—but in actuality—gradually, for the past decade—it did.
And now the gap is so wide, so cavernous, it feels scary, unfamiliar, and crushingly lonely.
I miss you. I see you every day; I lie next to you every single night. And yet I miss you, terribly. I miss our laughter, our inside jokes, reading each other’s minds. I miss talking to you for hours about everything and nothing. I miss knowing that on my worst day you would cheer me up, bring me back down to Earth, and show me how much I mean to you. I miss caring about the things you care about.
Because at the end of the day, all this other stuff that we have filled our life with, that has filled the space between us, it doesn’t really matter. You are what matters. You are what matters most to me. You always have been. And I don’t want anything to get in the way of that, ever again. Because without you, I am lost. Without you, I cannot take on the trials of the everyday. And I don’t want to. I want us to laugh together at our children’s goofy dancing, to look forward to sharing the most awesome parts of our day, to cry together during times of grief. I don’t want to go through this life alone. I want to go through it together, with you.
And to do that, we need to close this gap.
So I ask you, husband, please, roll over and look at me. See me. See me searching for you. And then reach over and take my hand. Hold on tight because this rollercoaster is a wild one, and we will be tempted to let go because it might seem easier that way. But we can’t lose each other. Not again.
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on May 2, 2018, and was lightly edited prior to republishing.