Posted by: Cecilia | March 2, 2010

Silent Love…(Marriage Telepathy)

From an early age my little guy was good about showing his concerns for Mommy. Even before he could speak in complete sentences he would bring tissue or stroke my hair if I cried, and now that he is older, he will ask, “Are you okay?” or “Why are you sad?” if he senses something is wrong. Like the other night, for example, when I started coughing after the lights were out. I’ve had this bug for a week and it had started to get worse.

“Are you okay, Mommy?

(Cough cough) “Yes, I am. Thank you so much for asking.”

“Are you okay? Are you okay?”

“Yes, I am okay.”

“No, I’m just saying that for the next time you cough, and the next time after that, because I’m gonna be asleep.”


About 30 seconds before the alarm went off the next day, Max pulled the covers off abruptly and got out of bed, shuffling to the bathroom with throaty breathing that told me he was half sleepwalking. After about 90 seconds he went downstairs to the kitchen and I began to hear the light banging of the cutting board as it was pulled out of the cupboard. Our unspoken system is that whoever heads down to the kitchen first is the one to make Fred’s lunch and 2 snacks for the day, a slightly heavier task than getting Fred dressed and driven to school since it involves some amount of brain straining not to mention getting out of bed sooner.

But lately Max has been doing the heavy lifting, and I figured, the Nyquil the night before should have equipped me with enough power to at least pack a few meals. 

“I’ll make lunch.” I whisper because my voice is gone.

No response. I strain a little harder.

“I said I can make lunch.”

“Okay.” Max goes back upstairs.

An hour later, Fred is off at school and Max is back home. He comes into the office and turns on his computer.

“Fred was ok?”


We type, going on about our work. Max interrupts occasionally with something or other about a client. And I am waiting. I am waiting for him to ask me if I’m okay.

Two hours pass. I decide to initiate this conversation.

“You know what was so sweet last night? Fred heard me coughing and he said, ‘Are you okay?'”

Max nods, smiling.

“Fred! He asked me if I was okay.”

Max nods at me again, as if to say yeah, I heard ya the first time.

“He’s a child, and he always asks me if I’m okay. Why haven’t you even asked me how I feel? Don’t you care?”

“Of course I care! You know I do.”

I do, and yet…wouldn’t it be nice to actually be asked?

We weren’t always like this. I remember those days, some time before 2002 or -3, when my girlfriends back in Japan would ask voyeuristically if Max tells me “I love you,” and I would send them into a fit of school girl giggles by responding that not only did he tell me he loved me, he would tell me a minimum of 3 times a day. Nothing went unspoken – I love you, You look nice, You’re beautiful, This tastes great. This was true of the negative stuff too; after we fought there was always an apology, the actual words “I am sorry.” And there would be talking, going over what happened…there would be words to make sure we were on the same page. Somehow, somewhere over the course of our 9-year marriage, more and more became unspoken, but then more and more became understood as well. We don’t apologize as frequently as we used to after a fight now, but somehow we could feel the remorse in the actions that follow – a gentler tone, an attempt to break silence, a noticeable effort to change an annoying behavior. Love also shows up more quietly, understated. We let the other person splurge on a writing class, premium ice hockey tickets, a crate of books from eBay. We stick to our ritual of staying up to watch t.v. together even when one of us might feel tired enough to go to bed. We do the heavy lifting when we sense the other could use a breather. We get up first to pack lunch.

We get comfortable and we know each other more intimately as time goes on. We can anticipate what our partner is going to feel or say or do even before it happens. It reminds me of the way the Japanese communicate – because of shared and common thinking, alot is communicated through the unspoken. But still…wouldn’t it be nice to still hear from time to time the words that drew us together in the first place?


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