After the first flush of love it dawns on each partner that the other isn’t perfect. How do we avoid the pitfalls of seeing each other deal with life’s problems, often ineptly, at consistently close quarters? It isn’t possible to wear a “face” all the time. Trust and appreciation certainly help. How do we build that trust? A droplet at a time. Every moment either adds to or depletes that trust.
My idea: To talk about two such moments in time. The first shows how easy it is to ruffle emotions.
Background: On one of our walks my husband and I met a little boy who told us all about his dog, his mum and their ages.
"Hello, little doggy," he said. All of 800 millimeters high, I guess he felt mighty tall compared to our dog. Then he looked up at us. "What's your doggy's name?"
"Kara," I said.
"Ka--ra," he felt the name on his tongue, stroking her gently.
"I like it," he pronounced, smiling happily. We were both absurdly pleased with his seal of approval.
“How old is Kara?”
"She's an old lady. She's sixteen," said my husband.
"Oh,” said the young fella, looking up at us with eyes that were suddenly anxious. Mystified, we looked back at his worried face. We could tell he wanted to say something. We waited, encouraging smiles on our faces. “I have a dog too,” he announced finally.
“Really? What’s your dog’s name?”
“Cuddles,” he said his eyes softening momentarily. The next second they clouded over again. He quickly turned away. We wondered what was bothering him even as we watched him, fascinated. What an amazingly mobile face. Unable to keep his worry to himself a moment longer he turned to face us and blurted out in a rush, “He and my mum are very old. They’re twenty-one..."
As you can imagine after that conversation we were in high spirits. We continued our walk, still on the topic of "age" and how being "old" was relative. Neither of us was averse to pulling the other's leg. I teased my partner about his great age. He was then thirty-five. He gave back as good as he got. Then... he said something which implied criticism to me. I pretended nothing was wrong but I was upset. I was able to work things out to our satisfaction only after, and perhaps because of, the second incident in which I was nervous about revealing a secret.
How do you let your husband in on a carefully guarded secret? Especially if you’ve held back for two whole years?
This incident evoked emotions which were mere blips on my radar screen at the time. I didn’t realise how long those feelings would stay with me and how much they’d colour my perspective and reaction to things for years to come.