I Gave Fairytale Romance The Finger.

I thought I wanted to kiss my husband. I planned it. I wrote about it. I made a public statement about my surprise show of affection in an attempt to break the spell over our driest season yet in 15 years of marriage.

On a whim, Monday afternoon, reminiscing about our shared adventures together and missing us, I left him a little note to read beside his coffee machine, where I knew he would see it when he arrived home from his week away.

It was sweet and sincere, a declaration of my stubborn commitment to keep trying and an invitation to kiss me finally.

My stomach fluttered with anticipation,this was the first time in months I had initiated anything physically. I pictured us cuddling on the couch that evening, with the kids yammering on around us, filling in their papa about all he missed- rock climbing, friend visits, parties, and art projects.

Maybe, I wondered, we could even sleep in the same bed that night. The idea came and went within a second, it felt like too much to handle after a year of wandering through the desert.

I wasn’t ready to enter fully into a new season of happy, flowing streams and lush, vibrant vegetation just yet. But I was expressing interest in dipping my toe in the water.

My spiral notebook scribbled pronouncements to make progress and put our warm lips together as a symbol of our commitment to keep the pilot light on took an embarrassing amount of courage and letting go of control.

I snatched a pen and wrote the official note before I could talk myself out of it.

Via his numerous updates throughout the day, it became clear, however, that My Dramatic Romantic Gesture of 2024 might not unfold the way I had imagined.

His bags took forever to come out on the carousel.

He missed the bus he needed to be home by 3 ish.

He had to wait another 90 minutes for the next one.

Once on his way home, the bus was delayed yet again.

And now, it was looking like he would walk through the door at 5:30, the same time I pulled up on the bike after ballet practice, with all the kids in tow. Which meant, he probably wouldn’t have time to actually read my note and anticipate my return.

Unfortunately, it was the exact scenario I needed for my runaway bride tendencies to flare up and steal the show.

The unexpected turn of events was my demise.

I guess, if I really wanted to, I could tell him about the note and insist he read it as soon as he walked through the door so he would be prepared. I knew he would notice it, but it probably come second to taking a shower and putting on fresh clothes given he had been in travel mode for the last day and a half.

I didn’t tell him though. Mentally, I had already backed out, now I was praying he wouldn’t read it.

When the four kids and I stormed in through the garage door that evening, he was there in seconds to greet us. He looked me in the eyes with equal parts longing and trepidation. I didn’t overthink it, and accepted his clean soap smelling hug, our first embrace in a few months I think.

All the while I was wondering if he had read my letter and would lift my chin and press his lips against mine in recognition and relief of my newfound openness.

The hug went longer than I expected and about 5 seconds into our gentle yet stiff embrace, I knew he hadn’t read my bid for affection and he wasn’t about to make the first move.

I shed my jacket, hat, and gloves, threw them on the floor and shimmied over to the coffee machine. There it was, exactly as I had left it, flipped to the first page.

Did you get a chance to read my note, I asked non-chalantly, pointing to the counter.

No, I didn’t, as soon I got home I showered and changed, he said without a hint of remorse.

Now what? I had to think quick.

I waffled back and forth about leaving it, letting him read it in his own time, but now my initial inspiration was smothered. The kids gathered around him like he’d just returned from a year long escapade around the globe, while I lingered over my next step. As the noise level increased exponentially, I was jolted back into reality.

I wasn’t ready to break the ice.

I needed more time to figure out what I wanted on so many levels. Why I was a different person without his presence next to me?

I wanted to tread deeper into my desires, and find an authentic longing to rejuvenate the hard, crusty bits relationship or maybe just toss most of it and start from the delicate seed we held decades ago when we found each other on the other side of the world.

Once again, I kicked myself for falling for a kind of rom-com relationship turn-around. A cinema worthy make out session. Our 4 kids gawking up at us with squeals of delight and squirming with disgust, while mom and dad made out in the kitchen.

I whipped together a batch of chili, opening up cans of beans and tomato sauce and browned a pound of turkey, then I made sure he wasn’t looking and I slipped the 3” by 5” spiral bound notebook into the cupboard above his coffee machine.

Was I really going to abort the romantic reunion I had built up in my mind earlier in the day?

Yes, yes I was.

Every wife knows how easy it is to hide things in plain sight from our husbands. I knew he wouldn’t notice it was even missing.

After dinner and bath times and unpacking, I was upstairs finishing up my night time routine when I noticed the notebook had been moved. There it was sitting squarely on his bed side table. I panicked thinking it was too late and the kiss was imminent but then I realized he definitely would have mentioned it or given me the look had he read it.

I didn’t waste a second knowing in a family of 6 you are never alone.

I snatched it up and ripped out the 4 pages of secret words he would never read…at least not yet…and breathed a sigh of relief.

With the pages folded in a tight square, I tucked them away for safe-keeping, no marriage ice would be melting tonight.

Was I a failure? Was I a cold-hearted bleepity bleep? Was I in need of serious help?

I entertained the condescending thoughts for a few minutes and then switched the off button. Bored with the banter in my head already.

Before heading back downstairs, I gave fairytale romance the finger and flipped the on switch to finding my own definition of marital bliss. I had an ever increasing feeling it had a lot to do with falling in love with all my flaws and faltering feet and failed attempts (and his too).

I was proud of myself. I had refused to push myself when I wasn’t ready. My peace returned and I slept soundly on my single mattress that night.

The next morning, my phone vibrated at 6:30 am while I ran on the treadmill.

Husband: “Hey you there?”

“I am trying to find the note you wrote me, can’t see it in the little notebook.”

Me: “I took it out.”

Husband: “Why?” (Big sobbing face emoji)

“I was so excited this morning to read it”

I didn’t respond and let my silence do the speaking.

I breathed a sigh of relief as the sweat trickled down my temples and I smiled inside knowing, kiss or no kiss, we were both trying the best we could. There was no pressure, step by step, we would wander down this dusty, winding road together, thankful we didn’t have to do it alone.


If you need more encouragement:

This was a treasure of a podcast and timely too! Why the “Good Enough” Relationship Beat the “Perfect Partner”, The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos, Mar 3, 2024

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