I don’t know. There was a time when I knew how to dance.
Have you ever experienced an emotion that feels like a mutation, a tiny horrid little piece of dust slime that somehow figures out how to evolve into a form of life, then crawls inside of you? The creature digs into your heart, an uncomfortable manifestation that tries to mimic what it finds there. No amount of effort will make it go away. The pain is unfamiliar yet close to what you have encountered before, a bother, an aggravation.
That happened to me yesterday.
It was one of those times when I needed to feel like I was wrong, as a means of justifying how I felt. I needed guilt. I needed permission from myself to be selfish. There are plenty of times when I know I have been wrong, fought with the guilt, knew I was being selfish. That tiny horrid little evolved creature latched onto those feelings and fed on them.
My wife and I were invited to a Super Bowl party, a small affair with three couples that we know well. These were people that I like, people I know that my timid wife is comfortable with. Most years I sit at home, eat my snacks in front of my own TV, watch the majority of the game by myself. There were years we went to parties together, mostly before children came into the picture for us, but for the most part the Super Bowl has been celebrated in solitary glee. So when the email invitation came, I asked my wife about it, received an answer that masqueraded as a yes, then RSVP’d that we would attend. My friend enthusiastically acknowledged, followed up yesterday morning with a text saying that he was looking forward to seeing us.
Saturday night came. Our 16 year old boy announced that he was staying home to watch the game. Suddenly, I could see my wife waffling. Question marks filled our tiny living room. There was no way she would leave him at home to watch the game by himself. There was no chance at all that she would consider bringing him along to the party with us.
I was doomed and I knew it. The boy would watch for five minutes, then retreat to his room.
The guilt. The selfishness. Both worked on me. I still feel both. I wanted to go to that party. I wanted to enjoy some time with other couples. I wanted to enjoy a night where I felt like my wife was doing something with me, enjoying a time away.
She knew I wanted to go. Time came yesterday afternoon to leave for the party. She was dressed and ready to go.
Instead, she continued to wrestle with our boy, could not decide what to do. He got in the shower, yelled at her to go get snacks for him, make something for him to eat during the game, stay home. I told her that we should just go to the party for an hour or so, then excuse ourselves. We had said we would go.
She wouldn’t go. I sat at the top of our stairs and a few feet away from her, my head in my hands. That tiny horrid little creature was working on my heart. I was beginning to experience a hurt that I can not describe. I had felt something like it before, but never mixed with the other emotions of guilt and selfishness and fault. Neither was I angry.
If I went to the party without her, I would be the only one there without their wife or girlfriend. They would know why. If I did not show, these friends would know enough about us to know why.
I stood up. I told her that I was going. If she wanted to join me, then she could call and I would tell her how to get there. I went, told my friends that my wife had decided to stay home with our son, gave her blessing for me to go to the party, might join us later.
I knew she had made her choice. It is the choice she always makes. Just once I wanted it to be different. It needs to be different. The hurt felt different this time thanks to that tiny horrid little creature.
Today I finally went to the Five Love Languages web site and took the love languages quiz. Honestly, I hate stuff like that. But I hoped taking that quiz might help me understand things a little more. Here is how I scored. The maximum points for any category is 12:
Physical Touch – 10, Acts of Service – 9, Words of Affirmation – 6, Quality Time – 5, Receiving Gifts – 0
It should be no surprise that as a guy, my highest score was the Physical Touch category. What that really indicates is that I have a strong need for intimacy, a sense of closeness, something that involves companionship. Maybe yesterday played on my need for intimacy, closeness, companionship. I think I have been clinging to the hope that will return, that she wants to show me our marriage is worth saving. That she wants to be with me. Instead, she made the choice she will always make. There was a feeling of finality when I walked out the door to that party yesterday.