I have an ex-girlfriend who does monologues at theatres, coffee houses, and public libraries. Long after we broke up, she worked up a bit about our relationship which had left her feeling sour. We’d been complementary in so many ways but one, and when I told her I was willing to work on it, she turned me down. Now years later, in her piece about what happened, she described me as “a man who’d had too much couple’s counseling.” In the video I’ve seen of the performance (she’s quite good), this gets a great roar from the audience.
And if you know me, you’ll laugh too.
H and I go see one these days. Though the need for the first session was born in crisis, it has become casual and irregular. Sometimes she wonders why I feel the need to keep going.
Even the counsellor, who is old and wise, occasionally asks aloud what keeps us coming in. I say things like, even when its good, it’s good to take some time together.
But in those weeks when it’s inconvenient to find a sitter, get away from the office, fit it between pediatric appointments and the necessary dental work, I think I really am a fool.
Then the hurly burly comes and the calendar feels like a deck of cards I’ve been asked to play a hand from even though they have been tossed into the air.
The dog gets ticks.
The kids break bones.
The phone vibrates with random office requests for help on things for which there is no help.
Mother-in-laws visit and extended family send long, alarming texts from hospital rooms about spouses with mysterious and serious symptoms.
Children refuse to do homework, hate their birthday cakes, and don’t come when they are called.
The piano teacher is late.
And I’m too tired at night to be the man, the partner, the companion you need and that I want to be.
And I’m happy to be called “a man who’d had too much marriage counseling” because I need that 50 minutes when the only thing I’m paying attention to is my own heart syncing with yours while the hurly burly rages on the other side of the door.