There was a couple who’d been married for twelve years. The first two years were good, happy even . . . but then the kids came and work got hard and money got tight and the shine wore off of each of them. She used to see strong and silent but now she saw cold and distant. He used to see passionate and loving, but now he saw dramatic and meddling. They allowed themselves to become annoyed with each other. And so they stopped being careful. They stopped taking care of each other because they each decided they needed to look out for themselves.
And the distances between them grew longer and deeper until it felt impossible to touch even when they were in the same room. And one day she said to her girlfriend. . . I just don’t love him anymore. And it felt terrifying and exciting to say. And he said to his buddy . . . I don’t know if I ever loved her. And their friends said what about counseling but it all seemed tangled up too tight to try to unwind.
She got home from work one evening and fed the kids and put them to bed and she was tired to the bone. And he was late again. Late again. And even though he was late and the house was a mess, she knew that he would walk in the door, pour his glass of wine, and sit down at the kitchen table and relax. He’d sit and relax. She couldn’t even remember what relaxing felt like. She was always either going like hell or sleeping. Somebody had to keep the family running.
She stared at his bottle of wine on the counter. Then her eyes wandered over to their wedding photo on the wall. Clueless, she thought. We were clueless. But happy. Look at us. We were happy. We were hopeful.
God, please help us, she said silently.
Then she walked over to the counter and poured a glass of wine for him. She put it next to his book on the kitchen table, the place he loved to sit and relax, and she went upstairs to sleep.
He tiptoed into the house fifteen minutes later. He knew he’d missed the kids’ bedtime again, he knew his wife would be angry again, and he prepared himself for her steely silence. He hung up his coat and walked into the kitchen. He saw his glass of wine, and his book, and his chair pulled out for him. He stood and stared for a moment, trying to understand.
It felt like she was speaking directly to him for the first time in a long, long while.
He sat down and drank his wine. But instead of reading, he thought about her. He thought about how hard she worked, how early she woke to get the kids to school and herself to the office. He felt grateful. He finished his wine and then walked over to the coffee maker. He filled it up and set the automatic timer. 5:30 am. It would be ready when she came downstairs. He placed her favorite mug on the counter. And then he walked upstairs and quietly slipped into bed next to her.
The next morning she woke up and stumbled downstairs, exhausted, to the kitchen. She stopped when she heard the coffee maker brewing and stared at it for a few moments, trying to understand.
It felt like he was speaking directly to her for the first time in a very, very long while.
She felt grateful.
That evening, she stayed up until he got home. And she allowed her arm to brush his as they prepared dinner together. And after the kids went to bed and they assumed their TV viewing positions on the couch . . . he reached out for her hand. It was hard, but he did it.
And things started to unwind. A little teeny bit.
Look. I know it’s hard. It’s all so damn hard and confusing and complicated and things get wound up so tight you can’t even find the ends sometimes.
All I’m saying is that somebody’s got to pour that first glass of wine.
Because love is not something for which to search or wait or hope or dream. It’s simply something to do.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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