G. and I are having a hard time. Between work, his father’s illness, commuting between cities and harvesting and processing food from the garden, we don’t have time for anything else. Dancing, which brought us together, has pretty much been put on hold. Even when we are together, I feel like we’re so busy thinking about whatever chore we are doing _ or what chores we need to do _ that we don’t pay much attention to each other.
We are both exhausted all the time.
My mom suggested we give up the garden because it’s so much work, but I don’t want to do that because I enjoy it, and G. enjoys it, and studies show that couples who don’t have children are more likely to separate if they don’t have a common interest to bring them together. Our common interests are dancing and the garden, and I don’t want to give either up.
And yet, I feel like I can’t go on this way. I worry about falling out of love not because of anything G. or I has done but simply because we will be so tired we can’t feel anything other than exhaustion.
I think that’s one of the reasons I got divorced. M. and I spent a couple of years renovating a house in Connecticut, and by the time we were done, we were strangers. We had nothing to talk about except the renovation, and we were exhausted. I don’t want that to happen with G.
So, I started thinking about what we could give up, and I decided, as my friend Amy F. would say, that we need to outsource. I started getting bids on cleaning G.’s house, cutting his lawn and some plumbing work that needs to be done at his place. I figured it was better to pay someone else to take care of relatively simple tasks that don’t contribute to our relationship. I mean, I would love to outsource G.’s dad’s affairs, but only G. can handle those because he has power of attorney.
I told G. that I was getting these bids and why, and he just made a kind of noise that meant he heard what I’d said but wasn’t necessarily agreeing with it or even agreeing to consider it.
Then I started to worry because what if G. didn’t take me seriously and didn’t agree to some changes and then we drifted apart and eventually broke up? I didn’t know what else to do because outsourcing was the best idea I’d come up with to address the problem, and his lack of response made me feel even more lonely and disconnected than I had already been feeling.
But then G. came home from work one night when I was at his house, and we had dinner. Instead of cleaning up after dinner, he laid down on the couch and said, “Come talk to me for a minute.”
He said his friend, affectionately known as McManiac, had been asking if I liked his house. (Side note: G. tore down his house and began rebuilding it three months after we started dating. It has been under some kind of construction for the entire three years we’ve been together.) G. said he told McManiac that he thought I liked the house because he had built a kitchen that was set up the way I wanted, and I could cook, and I had the garden.
I said I liked the house, but I don’t like the commute involved in living in different cities. That led to a discussion of how tired we are, and how we’re handling the pressure of everything that needs to be done.
Then G. asked, “Do you ever feel like crying?”
“Yes,” I said. “I was standing at the sink this afternoon, and I was so tired, and I had so much more to do that I just wanted to cry.”
I had been turning about 30 pounds of tomatoes into sauce and salsa.
G. said that over the weekend, he had been working on putting the lights and electrical service in the pole barn _ where he hopes to build a dance studio for us to practice _ and it was really hot, and he was tired, and then he realized that the wiring was wrong, and he felt like crying. But, he said, he told himself there was nothing to do but rip it out and redo it, and that’s what he did.
And just like that, I felt better. I felt connected again because here he was, this man who feels it’s so important to appear strong and to be strong, and he’s telling me that he too felt like crying. And he felt like crying over a project that he’s really doing for me.
It reminded me that one of the reasons I love G. is that sometimes, when I don’t know what to do to resolve an issue in our relationship, he does. And, I love him because he’s good at talking about his feelings and our relationship, and I am often not. I left things build up and fester, while he usually will just say whatever he’s thinking. He makes up for my shortcomings, and sometimes he knows better than I do what I need and what will make me happy.
I am still getting bids on the cleaning, though. Stay tuned for that.