There are many wonderful things about being married. In fact, I've found myself over the years being a marriage embassador extolling the virtues of wedlock. But there are fundamental differences between the way men and women view the world and relationships. At times this is something we can laugh about and sometimes it isn't. A dozen times in our 22 years of marriage I've found myself thinking "Wow, things are going pretty well right now" only to find that I'm living in an artificial reality bubble. There have been plenty of times when I've had the same thought and been right, but when I'm not, the collision of realities is shattering.
Here is one of the many indicators that you've got a problem. If you're sound asleep in bed and your spouse walks into the room, turns on the light and starts speaking in an angry voice while you are still trying to get yourself out of sleep, things aren't good. There have been times when I honestly had no idea what was wrong or what I had done. If you have to ask, it just makes the situation worse.
I've really been trying to avoid these situations. For the past 6 months or so, I've made it an goal of mine to think more about how my actions affect people around me. I have been trying to not assume that things are well, I've been actively trying to make them better. Part of this is just being more self-aware and actually dedicating part of your thought processes to examining your relationship. I know that this may be foreign to men, but it can be done. Well, I think it can be done. I guess the results of my experiment are still pending.
Last night Pamela slept downstairs in the living room with Colin who is suffering from the flu. She was going to keep him company and to be there in case he needed anything. I've learned that doing the "nightly" things like putting the dogs away, locking up the house and helping carry things upstairs is critical to marital happiness. So, I made sure things were settled and asked if it was ok for me to go to bed upstairs. I received assurances that it was fine, so I headed off to bed.
I've taken to listening to podcasts to get to sleep. This is partially due to the novelty of the thousands of podcasts that exist in the world and partially due to the lack of an engaging book on my nightstand. I usually use only one earphone so I can hear what's going on in the room, but even at that, it takes me a bit to hear something going on in the room. I don't think that Pamela likes this. I think she would much prefer that I become engrossed in a good book. Anyway, it's possible that I missed some activity downstairs, but I don't know.
What I do know is that at 6:00am, the house phone started ringing. I groped around in the darkness to find the phone. When I managed to get the phone to my ear and mutter a very sleep "Hello" there was a moment of silence. And then she said "So, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?" I snap awake immediately. Adrenaline rushes through my system and I search for my failure. The earphones, the list of "nightly" things and snippets of our conversations all pass fleetingly through my brain as I try to make sense of this question.
Then, I hear another sleepy "Hello" as Pamela answers the downstairs phone. Whoa. The light is starting to come on. "Who is this?", I ask. Pamela, who hasn't heard our mystery caller speak answers, "It's me!". Then there's a long pause and the woman on the phone asks "Is this 707-431-1043?" I tell her that it isn't and she quickly appologizes and hangs-up leaving Pamela and I talking to ourselves in the same house. It isn't much of a conversation as we hang up and try to get back to sleep.
In the morning, I do a reverse number lookup for the phone number she gave me. A house on Haydon Street with a phone number one digit different than ours. It's registered to Mathew D John and I head off to work thinking that he's not having a good day. Pamela and I have a good day.