Lingering he raised his latch at eve,
Though tired in heart and limb:
He loved no other place, and yet
Home was no home to him.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834),
'The Three Graves' (1798) pt.4, st.16
English poet, critic and philosopher.
You just have this expectation that when you return home from work, you'll find comfort, space, a little quiet and maybe a wife waiting to embrace you. A few minutes to yourself. A chance to unwind.
I suppose I should be completely honest. Yes, to a certain extent, as accused by my wife, my brain does kind of tune out when I come home.
When I come home, it is as if I am entering into someone else's work domain. Namely, my wife's. When I enter the door, it feels like she is managing a delicate balancing act, one, which demands her full attention. So feeling somewhat clumsy and out of place, I tiptoe around this fantastic feat performed by my wife, as she exudes competence and skill from every pore, careful not to disturb or interrupt. I know that if I were simultaneously attempting to change a baby, tidy a room, prepare a salad and speak on the phone - I would appreciate being left alone to get on with it. Just like I prefer to be undisturbed when I am busy at work, with my own juggling act. If someone else tries to jump in and catch a ball - the balance is upset and all the balls tumble. So to speak.
So obviously, I am startled when she barks at me to grab the baby or the salad servers or the phone etc. with that look that oh so many men are oh too familiar with. That look that says, "I just can't understand how you can be so unsupportive and self-centered". I was under the impression that by letting her get on with what she needed to do, I was being supportive - showing her that I had confidence in her incredible ability to manage whatever she'd taken on. It's kind of like when I'm driving and we're trying to locate a certain place - I far prefer my wife to trust that I will complete the mission successfully rather than be "supported" by her asking for instructions from strangers along the way.
I suppose I should be completely honest. Yes, to a certain extent, as accused by my wife, my brain does kind of tune out when I come home. It's not as if I actually switch off intentionally when I walk through the door. It's more an easing into a relaxation mode. To me, walking through the front door signals the end of my workday and so I have an expectation of being "off duty" except for a couple of chores which my wife delegates and I accept obediently. She complains that the onus is on her to do everything at home except for the duties she assigns me. She has a point. But I feel that she assumes that role by being so good at handling everything and by demanding such high standards. If we ran the house according to my standards - there would be a lot less work for both of us. I don't need the house to be sparkling clean nor for dinner to be on the table when I walk in the door. I would rather she spent that time doing something for herself - sitting with her feet up, sipping a coffee, or having a rest - so that when I walk in ready to relax and take things slowly, she'd be easing down too and we'd be in the same emotional place. She says "Honey, that's a nice idea in theory." Infamous words which I often hear in response to my suggestions of sex, a late movie, and other enjoyable exercises in which we used to engage.
I don't know what the solution is. But I do know that I used to look forward to returning home after a tough day at work. When she used to be so happy to see me, and we'd hug on the couch and have a drink together, talk about our day and plan our evening. It seems so long ago.
A young wife imagines entering her husband's head and listening to his inner voice about marriage, love and coming home after a day's work. To our readers: Try this as an exercise in 'how well you know your partner' and give him / her the letter that you come up with.
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Good luck and be ready for surprises.