Turning tides

I was folding laundry as She came downstairs.
Her: Morning.
She sounded uncommonly subdued.
Me: Morning.
I was unusually cheery. Unusually so for a morning after another fight. (Another fight We’d had about parenting styles which had come about after another fight She had been part of an I hadn’t.) On mornings like this it is usually my Wife who has slept it off an I who is still shrouded by thunder clouds.
Her: I’m glad to hear you sounding positive.
Me: The world’s different now.
Her: Sorry if I said things the wrong way last night.
Nothing from me. I’m tired of apologising. Not that I’m suggesting I didn’t get things wrong.
Her: I’ll have some breakfast and then we can talk.

It was one of those moments when you know the wrong thing to say, but can’t quite grasp the right thing quickly enough, and end up just blurring something out. There have been an increasing number of occasions in the last few days, since I last spoke to Kirsty on my own, when I have used the word divorce. The wrong thing to say was Now that I’m looking at divorce as a positive possible outcome, it’s easier to let shit go.

That evening We were to have a Skype session with Kirsty to talk about the elephant in the room.
Sex.

The session started with a review of the last few days. They hadn’t been particularly good. Another fight even in the last 24hrs. and precious little conversation. Latterly there was mention of the conversation We had had about talking about sex, and how that had broken down into a fight, again, at least in part, due to communication issues and history and blame. We spiralled off on that, and ended up talking about how, over the Xmas break, my Wife and I had tried to talk about the things one should never talk about- politics, sex, religion and money – the most contentious subjects imaginable. How We started on what my Wife thought would be the least contentious, and which I (privately) thought underpinned all the others – politics. And how it had nearly destroyed us on the spot. [Ed: It is likely that both AM and his Wife have a huge amount of common ground when it comes to politics. They likely have very similar ideas about what a good world would look like. But it has become increasingly apparent that their views on the detail of the problems and how to resolve them are subtly explosive.] My Wife thought We had resolved this a few days later. For me, We have not, and it is a thorn in my side. When it was raised now, my Wife vigorously maintained Her rejection, and I withdrew from the conversation, frustrated, angry and silent.

I’m not sure what was said next, I had tuned out, but Kirsty eventually turned the conversation to sex and intimacy, as I had informed her We wanted to do.

I honestly don’t remember much of what was said. It wasn’t so much a red mist that had descended, but rather a thick, grey fog. I know there was mention of Me having moved out of my Wife’s room and how intimacy and sex are not the same thing for everyone. There was cursory discussion of how my Wife and I respectively think of intimacy and how, for the last couple of years, there has been next to no physical contact of any kind – no sitting on the same sofa, no affectionate hugs, no kisses. Kirsty asked if there had been the traditional kiss goodbye in the morning as my Wife left for Her commuter train – there used to be but, painfully aware of everything else that was missing in terms of intimacy, I had consciously started to turn away, so my Wife’s kisses had become pecks on the cheek. My Wife had not noticed this, rather just the loss of this interaction.

As we wound up, Kisrty wanted us to try something over the next week; She acknowledged it would be potentially difficult. She wanted us to try to touch each other. Not sexually. Not huge embraces. Just touch. Even if only once of twice. A hand on the shoulder. A touch on the hand. Just see how it felt. I think We both recognised this would be challenging for both of us.

When We closed down Skype, I was still closed down, enveloped in my grey fog. It had thickened at the prospect of touching my Wife. I knew it would feel disrespectful, and that I would likely want to recoil from Her touch.

My Wife asked if I wanted to have some space. I did. She left me alone in the kitchen. I took myself for a walk.

In the void that is the COVID-19 shutdown, a walk across common land in the dark is surreal. Little or no traffic. No late night dog walkers. It feels starkly empty, and safe.

I reflected on what I could remember of the session.
I was acutely aware that I couldn’t member much. An accusation that my Wife has levelled at Me (and one that was expressly fired when Our conversion about having a conversation about sex had broken down) was that I don’t listen. Had I not been listening in our session with Kirsty? Am I so focused on the crap that I can’t hear the good bits? Am I incapable of letting go of the past? What do I need to buy into reparation?
There is a lot of blame Our the relationship. I certainly blame my Wife for a lot of Our dysfunction. That’s not to say I shouldn’t share responsibility. Am I problematically dependant on Her acknowledging Her responsibility, apologising [Ed: and key here is that AM needs Her to apologise with out suffixing Sorry with But and thereby¬†undermining any value.] before I can let go of the blame.
What will it take for me to move past blame?

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