On waking this morning I looked from my bedroom window to see my husband tending the plants in our walled garden. While watching him go about his tasks, I realised I could not imagine myself, twenty years from now, living a life without him. This revelation came as quite a surprise to me as, in recent months, I have struggled to imagine how I can possibly live the rest of my life with him. From my vantage point I could clearly picture us together, him in his dotage, pottering about in a tiny courtyard garden while I continue to write. I visualise myself, periodically glancing out at his endeavours from a small comfortable house where the days are long, stress free and always sunny.
Today my husband has taken our three children to their respective schools, brought me five unsolicited cups of tea and watered a multitude of M & S waste sale plants recently procured for our garden. All this has been achieved before 8.30 am and before having his breakfast. Although none of these tasks have been at my request, I am in no doubt all he has done, has been in an effort to please me, to help me and to show me he cares. However, in spite of these admirable motives, no words have escaped his lips and no smile has surfaced on his emotionless face. As ever, he has gone about everything in complete silence without any visible signs of warmth towards me and not even the slightest flicker of animation has entered his blank expressionless exterior.
This absence of interaction with me has become the norm and I know he does not see it as unloving or neglectful. He is secure in his belief his actions speak louder than any words he could possibly utter. He sees these homely duties as a declaration of his love and in his mind, this declaration is at full volume when he is being at his most helpful. It has not occurred to him this understated way of maintaining a relationship might not be enough for me. He gives no thought as to whether or not I can hear his silent proclamations. Nor does he wonder if I am, in fact, aware of his mute, dead pan devotion.
Once upon a time, before irresolvable debt screamed louder than any silent acts of affection, I loved this man for his quiet understated need to silently nurture all things, including me. Now all I see is a man who continues to be helpful by ordering oil for my Aga, arranging our insurance and even cleaning the kitchen bin rather than tell me he loves or cherishes me. However, our harsh reality dictates my idyllic vision is unlikely to be only twenty years hence but nearer a million light years away from where we are now.
It seems beyond him to offer me an occasional kind word or small sign of appreciation. A smile in greeting or in understanding, an acknowledgement which is vital to me, is simply not part of his repertoire. Every day I wonder if he has realised it is the withholding of these simple but priceless things which will eventually cost us our marriage and not the undisclosed and irresolvable debt.