Tag Archives: relationships

The 5 Days I Fell Hardest For My Wife by David Schickler

This article is so touching that I had to share it on my blog:

The 5 Days I Fell Hardest For My Wife

 One man shows how all of us can see our long-term loves as exciting and unforgettable—all over again. (He’s written a memoir too: The Dark Path.)
Martha and Riley
Photo: Courtesy of David Schickler

Martha and Riley

The Day She Stood Out Against the Sky

My wife Martha and I honeymooned on Kauai. We snorkeled one day at Tunnels Beach and had an isolated cove to ourselves: Adam and Eve in flippers. The coral were purple grandeur, but sharp, and after some almost sliced my stomach, I headed for the beach. Martha kept snorkeling another hour. I’m a worrier, so I stood by our blanket, watching for her. At one point, she stayed under for too long and I panicked and ran to the water, about to dive in and search for her. But then she surged up, way out there, and whooped and waved, and across that blue distance, with sky and surf dwarfing her, I could still see her face telling me, “It’s all right, Anxious Man. I’m with you.”

The Day Our Son Wore Crap Gloves

Our baby had awful colic. He would only stop crying if I did a jig with him in my arms while we played Paul Simon’s “The Obvious Child” at blasting volume. At a year old, he started producing toxic waste. One day, I was away from home and Martha texted me a picture of our little fellow standing in our living room, wearing only his diaper, which was overflowing. There was extra overflow on the rug, more on the walls and even more covering his arms, from his hands up to his elbows. Martha accompanied the picture with just two words: Crap Gloves. I could feel through the phone all the work my wife had to do to clean up. I could feel her exhaustion and her fear that she’d never get back to her photography career. But in the middle of all that, she wanted me to laugh.

The Day She Heard the Voice

Martha and I met at a reading; only because Martha nervously introduced herself. Her face was shock-red with shyness. To calm her blushing, she fanned her face so hard with a program that she got a paper cut on her temple, which I was so forward as to dab with a cocktail napkin. By a year into dating her, I’d learned the depths of her shyness (when her doorbell rang, she’d often hide). When we got engaged, she explained about the night we met. She wasn’t very religious, but she’d been sitting in the audience and I’d come out on stage and she’d heard a Voice—some Voice from outside herself, something absolute—that said, “This is the man you’ll spend the rest of your life with.” It is only because she heard this Voice that she took what was for her the monumental effort of saying hello to me. It is my favorite brave thing she’s ever done.

The Day We Went Running in Venice, Italy

Martha and I got to Venice once and went running the first afternoon. It was 60 degrees, the sun was shining, but as we tramped over bridges, past gondoliers and trattorias and around pedestrians, I kept complaining about the crowds, wanting to go faster. I was also wrangling over a screenplay I was writing and some tough plot points I needed to get past. Martha finally stopped me and grabbed my chin and said, “David. Look around.” She indicated our stunning surroundings. Then she looked me in the eye and said, “Pass the test.” She could have said, “Smell the roses.” But “Pass the test” slapped me awake a lot more quickly.

The Day Her Horse Died

Martha grew up a country girl. As an adult, she saved up and bought her own horse, Riley. He adored her, and before she met me, he was how she spent all her time. She (and then we) kept him at a stable outside of town. A few years ago, on Christmas Eve, we got a horrible phone call: Riley had walked out of his front left foot, breaking his leg. Riley would have to be put down within half an hour. Martha and I raced out to the stables. I drove while she wept. It was dusk when we arrived. Martha made herself stop crying before we got out of the car. Way off in the distance, far from the barn, Riley stood in a snow-covered pasture. The stable owner and vet were already with him, ready with the syringe. Riley kept upright, despite his mortal lameness. I could see, even from afar, the misery on his face. I shouted loudly across the pasture to the vet, who waved back, knowing to wait for us. Riley made no move at my voice.

Then, my wife, at my side, looking at her beloved animal 200 yards away, spoke his nickname—”Ry”—under her breath. From as far off as he was, Riley heard her immediately. I saw the pain on his face lighten. He reared, whinnying to her a call of love more resounding than I’d ever heard from him before, raising his crippled leg to signal her. He stood out against the dying sky like that, and for a moment I felt what he felt, the same thing I’d felt on that beach in Kauai when Martha appeared across all that distance from me and hailed me out of my fear. She is here. She is with me, always. I will be all right.

10 Words

He said, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Immediately, I felt sad, alone, foolish, on-guard. How could I not know this? I mean, I knew we’d been struggling for a few months; as a matter of fact, we’d just had a few major discussions about our relationship just 5 or 6 weeks ago. But to tell me he was no longer in love with me? I was crushed. I’m still reeling from it.

“You’re my best friend, and you’re wonderful. Maybe we can redefine our relationship.” I thought, “What??! As what, friends?”

However, after this pronouncement, we talked for another couple of hours, and over the course of our conversation, he decided he didn’t want to end our relationship after all. At least not yet. Ever since our “big talk” in early May, I had really been putting in the effort to build a stronger relationship with him and had even returned to visiting my shrink to work on some of my issues surrounding intimacy and commitment. I really thought we had taken a turn in the right direction, and even got confirmation from him that he thought we were moving in a better direction and that he loved me more than he had previously.

Then, due to assumptions and miscommunication, we had a spat and ended up with those 10 words.

So, because I’m analytical and a researcher by nature, I did what any self-respecting woman would do. I Googled “What does it mean when someone says I love you but I’m not in love with you?” And Google was very helpful (as always!). There were several articles by noted psychiatrists and therapists and of course, I only want to believe the ones that lean in my favor. But the takeaway from all of the articles was the same: either the relationship is on its deathbed, or we need to put the work in to get over this hurdle and enjoy the loving, sparkling relationship we once had (which is what I’ve wanted to do all along).

He said, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”

I don’t know what will happen with our relationship, and as I’ve said to him, I certainly don’t want him to stick around simply to avoid hurting my feelings, but we’ve both been sick with serious illnesses in the past 6 months, we’ve both been under a lot of stress and financial worry, and well, life.

He himself admitted that maybe he’s not sure what being in love means and that his idea of love is really more about infatuation and the “honeymoon” period. He said he felt like things moved too quickly at the beginning, that we went from infatuation to “an old married couple” in the blink of any eye, but that was more his doing than mine. He was the first to tell me he loved me and that he was “all in,” even when I wasn’t quite sure yet.

This recent pronouncement worries me for the long-term. If he’s “all in” what does it say if he wants to cut and run when things aren’t going that great? And it certainly plays into my fears of never realizing unconditional love with a partner.

According to one counselor, “Unfortunately, there is no generic answer to the question ‘How do you know when to hang in there and when to cut your losses?’ It is, however, a pretty safe bet that if you don’t feel that you’ve given things your very best shot, then it’s worth hanging in there a bit longer and making that extra effort. Athletes experience what they refer to as a ‘second wind,’ which often occurs after the point at which they feel that they are on the edge of depletion. Being in relationship, as many of us know from our own experience, is not unlike being an endurance athlete or a marathon runner. It may require the willingness to hang in there and go past the point where you feel like quitting and giving up in order to find the hidden strength or energy needed to finish the race.”

I’m often the ambivalent girlfriend or wife in relationships, but I realized, when I thought I was on the verge of losing this relationship a couple of months ago, that I wanted to fight for it.

I want to win this race.

Human Complexity

I find humans endlessly fascinating, and sometimes, a bit annoying.

Several months ago, I broke up with a man I had been dating off and on for six years. I ended our relationship because he wanted a friends-with-benefits type of relationship, for the most part, and I wanted more. I wanted a true, healthy, full, committed relationship. We had broken up before for the same reasons, but something about turning 50 strengthened my resolve to set boundaries and get what I wanted.

Despite telling him clearly that I could no longer date him because I wanted more than he could offer, he has continued to try to “tempt” me into seeing him.

At first, his contact was pretty innocuous, and since I wanted to remain friends, it was nice to maintain contact. He is very intelligent, a MENSA member, a partner in his law firm, and funny as hell.

However, he contacted me recently wanting to get together. I politely declined citing my committed relationship with Jack and my original reasons for ending our relationship.

Today, he contacted me again. Again! He wanted to see if I’d like to get together. Once again, but not as politely as the first time, I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I am not interested in being FWBs with him. I told him I respect myself and the boundaries I’ve set too much to return to a less than satisfactory relationship with him. And just as importantly, I love Jack and the happy, healthy, joyful relationship we’ve developed.

At any rate, I think he finally gets it, though he was miffed and annoyed that I wouldn’t give in.

So, my question is this: why would my ex keep trying? Is it an ego thing? Is he testing my resolve?

Getting to Know You

You know the song, right? From The King and I?

Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.

Getting to know you,
Putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.

I’ve been getting to know someone new the past few weeks and I feel like a teenager. I’m giddy. I can’t stop smiling most of every day, and my face hurts from the effort. There are no red flags, as much as I look for them (yeah, tempting fate). I honestly haven’t felt like this for 20 years. I didn’t feel this giddy about Thing 2 when we were dating (which in hindsight is probably a contributing factor to our eventual separation and divorce, amongst other things)… but I digress.

It’s like I’ve known this man for years, not weeks. I can’t wait to spend time with him; when we part, I don’t want to leave. And you wanna know the kicker? He seems to feel the same way about me! Now that’s something.

He’s got a big heart, he’s thoughtful, generous, affectionate, intelligent, and funny as all get out. When he looks at me, he really looks at me, not through me, not past me, but right at me. He holds my hand all the time and tells me how funny he thinks I am, how smart, how pretty. It’s intoxicating.

Six children share his life, all adopted. Well, four are officially adopted, and the other two live with them because again, he has a big heart. The kids are the only aspect of this relationship that give me pause, but only because I’ve never had children, so it’s hard to imagine what having a close bond with a child, much less six children, would be like. He’s devoted and from what I can tell, a loving, and yet strong father to these kids.

There’s no subterfuge, no games, no drama, no BS. He’s open, transparent, charming, and emotionally communicative. It’s unbelievably refreshing. I know it’s early, I know we will continue to get to know each other, I know that there may be things we find annoying about each other, but not now. Right now, in this moment, it’s so wonderful.

I’m smitten and I don’t want it to end. But, if it does, I’m enjoying the hell out of this journey.

Carrie Bradshaw

Being unemployed/underemployed has allowed me the time to catch up on reruns of “Sex and the City.” I never watched the show in its initial 6 season run, so it’s been fun to see what all the hype was about. Now that I’ve seen it, I’ve decided I’m definitely Carrie Bradshaw. Sadly, not in the lithe, slim, designer-dressed way she is, and I don’t live in NYC, but in ways emotional, I identify most with her character. At times, I’ve probably been a Samantha, or a Miranda, or even a Charlotte (though very little Charlotte!), but Carrie’s outlook on love and dating are probably most like my own, down to her over-thinking and analyzing her dating relationships… and sometimes not seeing the forest for the trees.

Take my most recent relationship, which, by the way, is much like Carrie’s relationship with Big. My boyfriend’s name was even John! John and I dated off and on for five years. He’s a partner in a law firm, very successful, divorced, two kids, kind, thoughtful, generous, lots of qualities that I want in a man. Unfortunately for me I discovered too late (or perhaps ignored too often) that he a) was emotionally unavailable, and b) leads a very compartmentalized life. He never wanted to introduce me to his friends, kids, or co-workers, although he had met mine; he didn’t want to take me to work functions, etc., etc., etc. For awhile, I was probably OK with that since I was healing from my divorce, but recently, it’s become more of a problem for me.

I’m 49. I’m only 10 months away from 50. I don’t want to grow old alone. And beyond that, I’d like companionship, intimacy, love, help, a confidante, etc. And John just isn’t willing to give that to me. He likes the generally superficial level at which our relationship exists. We talk about everything under the sun, but truly, I can’t say it’s a deep, abiding relationship. He can’t even tell me he loves me, for cryin’ out loud!

So, after much consideration, soul-searching, and crying, I finally broke it off. For good this time. It was really hard, but it had to be done if I’m going to love me and move forward with my life. And I love myself too much to settle for less than someone being open-hearted and emotionally available to me.

I hope John and I will always remain friends. We are now, and have been for five years, but now it will be without the sex. We’ll see how it goes.