Marriage seems to be a state of alternating between deeply fulfilling intimacy and piercing loneliness. I never experienced loneliness as an important emotion until we got married. As an independent-minded introvert, I have always been content to spend many hours alone. Solitude does not in itself make me feel lonely. Moreover, I have had, and continue to have, ample companionship. I am blessed to have a dozen people I count as close friends--people I can confide in, people who know me, my stories and my problems, my wounds and my glories. With such good friends, how could I be lonely? And now with such a husband as O., how can I be lonely?
I think loneliness comes from unanticipated solitude. I am lonely now because I expected to be spending this evening with O.--being together, learning about each other--and instead I am alone in the living room with the rabbit. The rabbit is cute and a good distraction. But I was expecting more than the rabbit, more than the sunset, more than a video chat with my parents.
Marriage leads you--or leads me, at least--to expect companionship at times you wouldn't have expected it before. When this expectation goes unfulfilled, disappointment strikes. It brings confusion, then sadness. Finally loneliness settles over me. The problem is compounded by my reliance on ritual, repetition, tradition. Sunday night is together time. Actually, all of Sunday is together time, in my mind. This is the tradition, this is how it has been. How could the future deviate from the past? The expectation is buried in my mind, fossilized.
Does adjusting mean letting go of expectations? learning to ask directly for what I expect? communicating more explicitly about what the expectations are?
In marriage I have more companionship than I ever had before. When I wake up in the morning, O. is there beside me. When I eat breakfast, he is at the table. When I am brushing my teeth, when I settle into bed, when I fall asleep, he is there. From these patterns hatches a flock of expectations. Subtly, the idea that he is usually there or has always been there grows, sheds its pinfeathers and gets pinions. It flies into my picture of the world as the promise that he will always be there at those times. Then two or three days in a row things don't quite line up and he isn't there at all those times, and I fall apart.
And then I write a poem and an essay in an effort to put myself back together. I cry and I pray. Eventually O. emerges from his notebook (or his unintended/unannounced nap), and the lonely moment is over.