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Scenes From An Italian Restaurant

I sit in the quaint little Italian restaurant across the table from my husband, sipping my wine in solitude. He is distant; engrossed in something on his telephone; a text, email or something on the web - I'm not sure, but it doesn't matter.  I takea sip of the sweet red liquor, and then another a minute to look around at the other couples seated at their own tables.

They are engaged with each other – smiling and laughing about shared secrets and interests. In that moment, I can’t help but wonder what happened to us….and when. We used to be like that, didn’t we? This sense of indifference seemed to have slipped up on us with very little warning.  Now….after all this time, I can’t even seem to find the motivation to care.

So now I too, sit at the table, ignoring my spouse, engrossed in writing this story on my phone. The laughter is merry all around us, but it doesn’t penetrate our silent world. I wonder how much longer we can survive this way; locked together by fate and circumstance, without joy and love to accompany us on our journey. I think that remains to be seen by how long it takes our hearts to realize what has been lost or what was never present in the first place, will never again recaptured.

I look around a final time at the happy couples and wonder how long it will be until time takes its toll on them as well.  I can’t help but wonder too, how many others once sat in their quiet, lonely world and watched us laughing and smiling with each other so long ago; wondering how long it would be until our laughter and interest turned to dust.   If I knew who those people were, I would find them and tell them…..that time is now.
LadyBronte LadyBronte 46-50, F 54 Responses Nov 18, 2012

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I have sat through countless date nights exactly like you described . I habe been married 10 years and it seems to have been that way since we had children but I am bound by the fear that my kids would not be able to maintain the lifestyle that we currently have. I love my family and aside from the SM everything is good or maybe I am just numb to other issues because the SM is consuming me.

Your initial post was Nov of 2012. Since then, you have been replying various posts. What is your position now in 2014, LadyBronte? Is he still emotionally bankrupt? Are you in the marriage because of loyalty, because old habits die hard, because of the comfort factor, because of fear of change? This 24 x7 work, instant availability thingie has killed many many hundreds of thousands of relationships globally. There IS something called "too much." In most cases, technology controls lives. Thank God I dont have a smart phone and have not succumbed to the urge to have technology control my life. Once I log off from office, I go home. No more net until the next day at work. I dont encourage personal calls at work unless they are very urgent and similarly I dont encourage official calls after work hours. I refuse to answer any emails or calls. I draw the boundaries between my professional and personal life and expect all and sundry to respect that boundary or else take a hike. That boundary is very important and technology is responsible for erasing that boundary. Similarly, we have certain rules regarding eating supper as a family or sharing details of everyone's day, etc. Helps us all stay connected. Sitting as a family, overlooking the water, one listening to music, one reading a book, the spouse and me in companionable silence, THAT is familly bonding time. I think, LadyBronte, you lost most of this; I would venture to say it just ebbed away from your lives. If you can reinstitute these things in your life, you have a chance, else you are relegated to a piece of furniture. Dont let that happen to you, you are far too intelligent to give up. Having bad days is okay, but stay and fight. After all, you DID see something good and exciting in each other at one point. Do you remember the days where you both could'nt wait to be alone and grab each other, etc? You are at the bottom of the valley now and you have a long trudge to the top. The trip is going to be long and painful, but you can do it. Would appreciate an update in my inbox, all the best.....Jiks

We go out fairly regularly to dinner, just the two of us. I have his attention, we have good conversation.

Although a few weeks ago he was talking, and as I looked at him I kept remembering what he said to me when I asked him why he didn't seem to want me anymore: something about having a lot going on and he "didn't need me whining at him about it"

I don't think I will ever forget it, no matter how many nice dinners we go to.

Priorities...

With so many important things going on in his life (you not being one of them) and with all of the difficult decisions that he has to make, you need to make things easier for him.

Take away his weighty decision on where to eat - have dinner in your bedroom. Then hand him his cell phone, so that he can make all of those very important phone calls. Tell him to hold on tight to the cell phone. Then rip his clothes off, push him back onto the bed and do whatever it is you want to do with him.

In the movie, Network, Faye Dunaway demonstrates just how this can work. The big sex scene shows it can be done during the middle of a business conversation. Mission accomplished! He may not even notice that it happened!

Try changing restaurants!

Sounds like a teenager!

Anyways, if you want, you could request that dining rooms and restaurants become "cell free" zones - meaning, leaving if you must use the cell phone. Of course, you need to decide if that would be an improvement...

One has a choice look inward only. or look outwards and search for alternatives to interest in life

Have you tried breaking the cycle, perhaps teasing his crotch with your feet, or sending him a sexy message? Something out of the box may help. Regardless, you are an incredibly passionate and talented writer. Your words are so compelling. Amazing. Sad.

Thank you for the compliment. But no - there is nothing left.

That is sad, but I guess it happens. Have you taken another lover? You are smart, talented, thoughtful. You deserve some spice in your life!

Laughs. No I am done with that too. It is destined to turn out the same. I don't need more than one in my life for whom I am not enough. Not seeking sympathy. Just sayin.

You should not be so resigned and assume things would turn out the same, for they almost never do. But you seem to have found joy in other places and that is sometimes more than others have. Keep looking for that and one day you may be surprised.

You may be correct but I shan't expect it or seek it.

Then why write the story?

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Tears streaming down my face for you both.

Thank you.

Taking a lover is just compounding the whole problem. DONT.!!!

Reading this makes me want to buy my wife some flowers. We've been distant too but I blame my job, I work all the time and hardly see her. The days I do see her, it's either exchange sleep for company. I always choose the latter. Why do we, men, become so complacent?

The Italian poet once wrote: "I hope that my love for you has not diminished once gray hairs fall to the barber's floor." - I suppose our spouses are like teeth, if you ignore them they'll go away.

I am glad this made you stop and thin and perhaps make more of an effort. It's hell living this way and it was never anything I could have imagined when I married. Things did get in the way and while they perhaps could have been overcome at one time - the effort to do so was not there. And yes...I love the way you put it.... "spouses are like teeth - if you ignore them they'll go away."

I can't help the riff on teeth... I remember a friend of mine who began brushing his teeth after lunch at work and everyone made fun of him.

His response was to change his line to: "I need to go brush my one remaining tooth now!"

I think this fits with the theme here nicely. We all need to cultivate even the few remaining pleasures we share with our partners.

Fortunately we have a chance of re-growing some of the pleasures we have lost or have atrophied from lack of use.

It *is* hard, however, as age adjusts hormones and as habits become ruts, and as we become complacent in many ways.

My wife is an incredibly charming and talented person, but she is also losing her mind (in a couple of the more obvious ways) and she is very prone to criticism and dismissal of me as a way of relating to me... it used to be somewhat charming but as I age, it is mostly a burden.

It is an uphill battle to keep myself from playing ***-for-tat and I'm sure I often let the challenges we have break me down.

I'm doing some therapy late in life to learn to put all of this in perspective and to hopefully make the very best out of our circumstance. As my wife goes mad (maybe this is an overstatement) I expect to discover and enjoy new aspects of her personality. She lost her father to something similar and fortunately he managed to be very charming and graceful in what is otherwise a very clumsy exit.

That's pretty much any human relationship. It's part of life... sadly, sometimes all we want is to feel good again. I'm not married, but still single. I can't make up my mind, looking at posts like this, if I want to ever have a relationship again. But I'm sorry for your pain.

Thank you. I think the key lies in choosing the one your heart longs for - not just someone you have fun with, developing great communication skills with each other and making memories that last a life time. I hope you find happiness that eludes so many others. It is possible, I'm sure.

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You've written your story so well. I'm sorry to see you going through that. Maybe you need to make the first step, make his favourite dinner and send the kids out so it's just you and him? Make it a candle light dinner, try kissing him before he enters the house. I don't know. You're both around each other. You should be able to love each other, and then trust each other. It is difficult, and a long process, but you can do it. Do it. Be happy. Try. Trying will give you something to do with yourself. Be positive. Try. Try. Try.

Thank you for your kind words. At this point though - it appears that we have become more of an annoying habit neither knows how to break - more than anything else. I tried for years - I don't have the heart to anymore. But thank you - you seem to be a very nice person. Hugs ~

Finding new interests that both of you can share...

New experiences, new friends, new tricks...

Bring back the excitement

I think the time for that has passed. But thank you.

Alas

Dear LadyBronte,

I cried when I read this because I am going through the same thing with my husband. He is sitting next to me on the couch right now as he always does. I woke at 9 this morning and he said two words to me "Good Morning" that was it. For the last 2 months I have lived in silence every day while he is engrossed in his computer trying to make money as an Internet Marketer, in the mean time I go about my duties as I am now a Servant instead of a Wife and I too wonder where it all went wrong.. My heart goes out to you for I know what you are going through.. God Bless

I'm sorry. I know how much rejection hurts. I hope you find your way back to the happiness you once had together. Hugs ~

Of course i feel bad for you as i read your story. To be taken for granted is never good. Chances are your husband feels the same way. My wife once told me" Dont ignore me all week and expect me to jump your bones" I hope it works out for you.

Thank you, but no my husband is fine. He doesn't realize there's a problem. Emotionally bankrupt is the term I use.

Not speaking for all men just myself. Now and then I need to be reminded there was a time when i sent flowers and called to just say " How is your day, I love you". My wife and I were getting ready for bed one night and she mentioned she had almost 100 texts from me. I told her to erase them and she said she didnt mind clearing out the ones said need milk and bread. It was the one i sent her asking how her day was and saying I love you that she kept.Since then she never goes a day without getting the good kind.

She is a very lucky woman. Good for you. It's nice to know there are still men of integrity who know the meaning of chivalry. :)

I have been there, LadyBronte. It is such a sad thing, isn't it?

Yes, it truly is. Thanks for your comment.

I wish you the best! Happiness...

And you as well. :) I hope your situation has now improved.

Vivid and lonely image. Very sad. But love is both a noun and a verb. Two people can still choose to love before they completely lose the love.

That is true, but it takes two to choose. The effort has long since faded away and with that the ability to rekindle any feeling.

Same for me. Except I work hard to avoid any one on one moments

What a beautiful writer you are. You've probably been told this any number of times. I wish you joy in 2013, LadyBronte!

Thank you! You're very kind. :) Happiness to you in the New Year too.

A big and serious conversation between you and your spouse needs to happen. You can either both make the Herculean effort needed to find what you have lost, or agree that it is gone for good. Do this before you end up hating each other.

I left it too late - far too late - but I have made my escape and I am in a much happier place.

I hope you find your happiness again - it can be done. Good luck.

Thank you. I'm glad you've found happiness again. Perhaps 2013 will be the year to make positive changes of some kind......

I love the title to your story... Good album and perfect for the story. Sorry about your situation and hope you can find your spirit again one day. Your voice is still alive, uncage your spirit.

Thank you. I hope to do that very thing someday.

I know that you will. It takes courage to say I want to be myself again and a lot of strength to make it though. You will need friends to hold you up and support you through the hard times, what ever you decide to do. You have come to the right place. We are here for you.

:) Thank you.

I can not imagine life as you describe it. My heart goes out to you. I will try and read more of you. Thank you.

Thank you.

LadyBronte, thank you for sharing this emotional insight. I, too have been in similar situations with my husband and it's sad because we really used to enjoy stealing away from the kids and spending adult time. No one deserves to feel so sad at time when you should be out enjoying yourself. I hope you find some joy in your relationship or at least move into a inner space where you are motivated to start finding joy.

I hope you find joy in your relationship as well NDS. Thank you for your comment.

Dear LadyBronte:

I know exactly how you feel. Some of the saddest times of my life were when I was married and was lonelier than I had ever been when I was single. I didn't get married until I was 40 and loved my husband more than anything but his behaviors ruined our marriage. Stay strong and do what you know in your heart is best for you. We only live one life - and life is way too short. I wish you the best of luck.

Janice

Thank you Janice - I hope you have since found happiness too.

This must have felt awfull sit in a restaurant where all the couples seems to be happy and you and your husband are so distant and you even write this story right there .....i wouldnt go with him anywhere if he is like this, quite enough that i have to share bed with him each night.... No need to have the same behaviour during the day....find someone to be happy with

Thank you, Glorian. I hope to.

This is so sad...the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Have you reached the tipping point?
But I do understand, sometimes when you are married for so long, you just run out of things to say to one another, or you keep talking about the same old things, or
you talked about practical things that need doing (like the bills, money or the house), or the children but never *about us*
IMO, some people have affairs because they wanted to recapture that feelings again and the *spark* that has gone from their marriage. They want to feel ALIVE again.

Talk to him, tell him how you feel..most likely he is feeling the same way too. Try to reconnect again if you can..

PS: Switch off that damned mobile phones when you out at a restaurant!!!

Mine used to be switched off - but as they say - when you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The only conversations these day are as you say - practical things.

So sorry- I do know how it feels. But for me it's a bit different. She puts on the show of a happy marriage in public, but at home, there is no sense of the responsibility to maintain the relationship. She just pretends everything is swell without lifting a finger to show love or affection. I signed up for a life of growing a marriage. She, apparently decided on the wrinkle-free version. Just wash and wear. No care required.

I'm sorry. I wish there was an easy answer for us all. Hugs ~

Patience, persistence and staying focused & optimistic. Easier said than done, though. Good luck to you. Remember that you're not alone.

Thank you Bfinally, nor are you.

Sad. I've been there myself. Now I sit alone.

:( Hugs~

It's true, isn't it? We all believe we will stay blissfully happy....

But people DO change...our lives DO change....it's just such a shame that we don't always change in the same direction as the other....I, too, understand this....too well, it seems....

I wish you happiness...we all deserve that much...

This posting is a beautiful sentiment though.....very nicely written.....thank you for sharing....

Thank you for your comment.
I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

Thought provoking. My wife is not a good conversationalist unless it involves her work, so when we go out we end up not talking much because I've heard her stories and complaints so many times before.

I'm sorry. That can't be a very happy time for either of you
:(

On the contrary, she gets to here herself talk and I sit and pretend to be interested. I should havepicked up on clues before we were married. She wasn't a big talker then. Live and learn.

Too bad it's only hindsight that is 20/20.

sad but a way of many peoples lives... if the spark isnt kept glowing the fire dies out.... sometimes a little breeze can reignight the flame but will soon return to ashes unless more fuel and care is added... dont let the embers go out if you can help them ....entice them back to their rightful place within your heart and his.

Thank you, but I think the spark died out a long time ago.

LadyBronte, I'm there with you. I can't count the number of times I've looked at my wife during any social gathering whether it be friends or family...or just the two of us....and seen that she is completely intranced by something on her phone. We've only been together five years...and i being in my 40's feel the same disgust with where we've wound up. We have grown so far apart in every aspect of our life. If it's not the phone keeping her from engaging in conversation with me or friends or family, it's some new cause she has adopted and jumped into. This usually only lasts a few days until the phone takes her attention again and keeps her from accomplishing anything in her new cause. Then shortly...she's on to a new cause. My family family can count on the fact that they can't count on her to contribute to any family event, even though she places responsibility for our personal events onto my family to complete. It's a viscious circle.

Yes. It is a vicious cycle. Once it's run its course, there seems to be nothing left to do. Sorry you feel this too. Hugs~

Wow your story is very emotional. I thought of something similar the other day, how couples get together thinking they will always be as happy as they are right now...and of course it usually always changes. People change, feelings change, change is constant.

I agree with cactusrose, perhaps your husband is stuck in an emotional rut. I hope you two can recapture the feelings you had during happier times. It can happen.

Thank you. I guess only time will tell.