What It's Like Being Married To A Mute

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What It's Like Being Married To A Mute

I can still vividly remember the chilly New Year's Eve when my husband and I met. Because we were two of the tallest people in the Irish pub, we managed to gravitate toward one another like giraffes under the influence of cheap champagne. His eyes were pretty and I respected him for not once looking away from my glittery eyelashes to my glittery low-cut blouse.

We talked for hours that night and tackled really important subject matter: Roth or Hagar? Summer or winter? Democrat or Republican? Ax murderer or no?

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In our "honeymoon phase" of the relationship, we conversed quite a bit. 

It felt like we would never run out of things to talk about. So many late nights we held bulky Nokia cell phones to our ears and refused to be the first one to press end. We revealed secrets about our past and hopes for our future while sharing our present.

We talked and we talked and we talked some more.

But now that ten years have passed, we don't have much to say. Let me rephrase that: But now that 10 years have passed, my husband doesn't have much to say.

Yes, we discuss our children at length: their health, happiness, hobbies, and education. We discuss finances on the 1st and 15th of the month. He occasionally compliments the meatloaf. But we certainly don't have the in-depth conversations that we once had.

When he arrives home after a long day of work, I wait a few moments for him to unwind and then I ask about his day. He shrugs and picks at the beef roast that I've so lovingly prepared for him. After dinner, I ask his opinion on the paint color I'm considering for the living room. He shrugs and picks at the beef roast lodged between his molars.

I ask him to talk to me. I ask him to have a serious and meaningful conversation with me like the couples on television do, and he sighs and asks, "What do you want to talk about?" And THAT is the sentence that drives me nuts.

I shouldn't have to tell him what I want to talk about!

Our discussions should flow naturally. They should emulate Shakespearean prose. Our conversations should be more charismatic than the dialogue between Dawson Leery and Joey Potter.

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I want him to channel Dr. Phil and reveal his innermost fears and emotions.

I want to discuss, at length, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner and Virginia Woolfe.

I want to know if my husband has the same suspicions as I do about the creepy butcher next door, and if so, if he's willing to stand guard while I break into his house and rummage through his things.

I desire to laugh heartily together, my guffaw harmonizing with his. I want to chat about the barometric pressure, the cool spell, the humidity's effect on my hair. What are his worries about the government, ISIS and the treacherous times in which we live?

For the love of GOD, I want to share intimate and unforced words! And I want those words to be said without anyone shrugging or picking something from their teeth.

Listen, I'm no idiot. I understand that communication is pivotal in any relationship, which is why I certainly try to communicate with my husband.

"What are you thinking?"

"I shouldn’t have ordered jalapenos on my Subway sandwich."

"Do you think this blouse makes my cleavage look good?"

(In these less chatty times, I often turn to social media as my main outlet for conversation. I find myself giving my high school nemesis a book review on The Fault in Our Stars because my husband doesn't give a crap.)

At times, I've been so angry with him for not talking to me. Can't he, at the least, put forth a bit of effort to open up and let me in? Why does he hate me?

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But I'm learning, slowly, that my husband's mute-ness isn't meant to hurt me.

He isn't some tormented soul with emotion bubbling just beneath the surface. He isn’t walling himself in and he doesn’t hate me. It's just that he genuinely has no opinion about the Pier One sale or the toppings on my Subway sandwich, or whether my shirt makes my boobs look bigger.

And sometimes he has absolutely nothing to say about his passions or his feelings or his thoughts.

I complain so much about what I deem as lack of communication that I often fail to see our real connection: those brief moments when he takes my hand to help me out of the car or when he asks me to choose between Fallon and Kimmel or when he kisses me good night.

No, he isn't a talker like me, but instead of considering it a curse, I'm starting to think it's a blessing.

I couldn't imagine the chaos and confusion if we both chattered non-stop. (Not to mention the ear-plug and therapy expense for our children.) No one likes two televisions blaring at the same time.

Last night, I asked my husband what that beautiful flowering bush was in our neighbor's yard and he nonchalantly shrugged. But this time I reacted differently. I didn’t take it personally — and I called up my girlfriend instead.

Susannah B. Lewis is an author, blogger and podcaster. Her videos and articles have been featured in Reader’s Digest, US Weekly, Yahoo!, Huffington Post, Unilad, The Weather Channel, and more. Follow Susannah on her Facebook page Whoa Susannah.