Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Degrees of Separation

I was at a wedding many years ago.  The ceremony was officiated by a mullah.  He spoke of the roles of a husband and wife as two columns holding up the same roof.  The structure would have more stability if they were not placed too closely together.

I have never forgotten that image.  It rings true to me. 

I have never been able to understand, for example, how some couples can sleep spooned together like a couple of puppies.  That, to me, would be claustrophobic, not to mention sweaty.  In fact, Ken and I stopped sleeping in the same bed shortly after we moved into a two-bedroom condo.  We bought a single "guest bed", which I then took to sleeping in whenever Ken's snoring got out of control, and that occurred so frequently that soon I moved in there for good. We've both been sleeping better since then.

I have heard descriptions of "old married couples" out for dinner at a restaurant, during which there is little or no conversation.  Young people look with discomfort upon this apparently lifeless interaction.  They assume it means that the marriage is no longer fulfilling, and that the couple is probably jealous of the young, lively couples out for dates all around them.

Personally, I love that conversation is optional when Ken and I are together.  Sometimes we talk, and sometimes we just float comfortably side-by-side, in our own thoughts, but with the knowledge that the other is there should we feel that we want to share something.  I love that we know each other so well that often there is no need to explain ourselves.  In fact last night we had a complete conversation that went like this:

Ken: Oh...

Me:  Oh!

Here is the translation:

Ken: You've turned out the overhead light, as we often do when we're watching TV, but I don't think you noticed that I'm trying to read something over here, although the TV is also on.

Me:  You're quite right!  I did not notice.  I apologize for interfering with your source of illumination.
(Then I turned the light back on.)

Sometimes we'll spend whole evenings hardly speaking, as I watch TV and he plays video games in the other room.  Do I feel that I am a "video game widow"?  Not at all!  I'm very pleased to be able to dominate the remote control.  (I think it helps that we have a small home.  If we were on different floors in a big house that would be too much distance.  As it is we can hear each other moving around in the next room and the closeness feels safe.)  I also know that I can go to Ken anytime I need attention, and he won't be upset with me or consider me an interruption.  The arrangement is mutual.

How much closeness do you like to have, or would you like to have, in a relationship?


DarcKnyt said...

My wife and I are very close, and while there's not a lot of physical contact, and there is a LOT of chatter, I think it's just more our natures.

Maybe. I dunno. I like what I have with her though. A lot.

Lynn said...

I used to just think it was so awful that my grandparents had separate bedrooms. My mother said, "Your dad and I will never do that." And they did it when they were in their 60s, I think. Mom wasn't feeling well one night and went to sleep in the guest room and never moved back to their bedroom.

It makes perfect sense to me - I've been divorced for so long how, I'm not sure I'd be up for that either. And yes - comfortable silence shows that there is good communication in marriage.

wigsf3 said...

Separate beds??? Dammit, Ken must be huge!!! Good for him.

And how much yoga and stretching do need before accepting him?

Dirtiest comment ever!

Jameil said...

Rashan and I often sit all up under each other. As small as our place is I still don't really like to be in separate rooms. He's cool with it so it works. We can fall asleep curled together but we wriggle apart eventually. We switch positions a lot in our sleep. But we're always touching while we're asleep even if it's a one-inch portion of our legs. We do love being engaged in the web while sitting together, occasionally sharing a tidbit but it's mostly quiet. I'd like to re-imagine your conversation.

Ken: Oh... I'm not just sitting here reading. I must be invisible.
You: Oh! Ken?? Is that you!? How did you get invisible!?
Me: *bows*

LL Cool Joe said...

I've been with my partner for 25 years, and the reason it works is because we live very separate lives, and it works for us. We do sleep together, and when we are together we are very chatty, but that's because we spend most of the time apart. :D

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Well for me... well I sit and play video games while she will lay on the floor at me feet or sometimes on my feet with only moments of separation while she goes to eat out of her bowl.

DarcsFalcon said...

Hmm, the column observation is an interesting one.

While Darc and I are like a couple of magpies just chattering away, there are times we'll have conversations much like you and Ken. Often, one of us will start a sentence and the other will finish it. :)

It's when you're comfortable in your relationship that the column spacing is perfect, I think. Sounds like you and Ken have it nailed down to a T! :D

G. B. Miller (aka G) said...

Interesting question.

I know that when my wife and I go out to dinner, the conversation is just about non-existent, simply because we have nothing to talk about.

And I don't mean that in a bad way, but because every topic has been covered ad nauseum, there really isn't anything left to talk about.

Sparkling Red said...

DarcKnyt: The two of you are such a sweet couple. :-)

Lynn: Now that we have the luxury of central heating and many people have enough space for a second bed (even if it's only a twin size), there's no necessity for couples to sleep together, as there perhaps used to be.

wigsf: That's so dirty I'm not even quite sure what you're picturing.

Jameil: Ken and I like to share the loveseat at my parents' house because it's perfect for snuggling. Our sofa at home is somehow not conducive to sitting all smooshed up. I think it's because the arms are too low.

LL Cool Joe: There was one year where my husband and I worked together a lot, and it left us with nothing to talk about at the end of the day but work. That sucked. Having separate-ish lives is much better for conversation.

Ron: The two of you are such a sweet couple. ;-)

DarcsFalcon: I don't think Ken and I have ever finished each others' sentences. Well, we've only been together for 10 years. Check in with us in a few more years.

G: Ken and I prefer to go to lively restaurants so that we can gossip and speculate about the other diners. :-)

Tracy Makara said...

I think that what the two of you share sounds perfect! The adage that the mullah shared at the wedding is right on. Too much togetherness is just as bad as not enough. You have to have that right mix...says the single girl LOL ;)