My husband and I had a real talk last night for the first time in a long while. We have been seeing each other mostly in passing since January — he was working on a major artistic project, then he was finishing his dissertation, then my job got totally crazy with end-of-year events for all of our programs (lots of evenings and every weekend in April and May), then he went away for three weeks on tour with his performing group, then I had a whole bunch of performances in a row, and I’m leaving for an international music festival in a couple of weeks.
This is not sustainable. It’s bad for our marriage and it’s bad for our individual selves. I am hanging on by a freaking thread, and the conversation we had was actually prompted by the fact that I am so anxious these days that I’m physically ill each morning, and dead tired when I get home at night. He, on the other hand, is experiencing the letdown that comes when you’ve been going full throttle for a long time and then everything suddenly stops. He is spending a lot of time at home but I’m not really sure what he’s doing with himself. Ostensibly he’s looking after the apartment and looking for a job, but I think he’s doing a lot of moping. When I’m home he wants to spend time together (and not in the “let’s hurry up and get something on the table because we’re both starving” way), but usually after work I go straight to work on planning the details for the upcoming trip. He is lonely, I am freaking out, and neither of us is getting our needs met.
Obviously we need to make a change. We need to spend some time together (we got married because we like each other, after all), I need to find a way to ramp down the anxiety, and he needs to find a way to ramp up the energy.
I can tell myself that things will get better after this festival is over (they will), or after he finds a job (boy howdy, they will), or lots of other scenarios that defer my contentment to some future time. I spend a lot of time thinking things like, “If I can just get through X….” But as far as our marriage is concerned, there has not been a single break since January. The closest thing we’ve had to down time was the one time in February when we both went to the same music festival. It was 6 hours in the car together each way (yes, I’m counting that as part of our down time), and we spent half a day together seeing the sights (such as they were) in a tiny college/farming town that smelled like manure.
I have to figure out either how to be happy with the current set of circumstances, or how to make these circumstances stop. The problem, of course, is that the magical time when things are going to get better for us keeps receding into the future. There is always one more urgent project and one more obligation and one more thing keeping me up at night. At some point it will have to stop.
And that’s what we finally, finally talked about last night.
Unfortunately I’ve taken too long setting up this story, and I’ve got to go to rehearsal now. The rest of it will have to wait for my next thrilling installment.