In Your Eyes I Can See Forever…and Dinner

What did you want for dinner tonight?
I don't know, maybe meatloaf and potatoes?
We're outta potatoes, how about spaghetti?
Sure, sounds good.

Sometimes you might see them in a crowded restaurant. An older couple, married for decades, eating their meal in complete silence. Not a single word exchanged. The husband busy chewing his steak and gulping his beer; the wife busy clenching her jaw, sipping her wine and gazing wearily off to the side to meet your eyes with a  ‘this will be you one day’ look.

I used to think, how sad. Now I know better. It’s not simply that they exist in a loveless union or that the resentment they feel for each other has completely snuffed out every bit of desire to communicate. Oh, no, this couple just might really get each other. So content with the other’s existence that words aren’t necessary. It’s a safe place. A place as comfy and worn as an old pair of ratty slippers. My husband and I have been married 12 years and we’ve recently faced reality: we are comfy, worn and ratty in more ways than we’d care to admit.

In the beginning of every relationship, things are fresh and new; everything you learn about the other an exhilarating discovery. You’re giddy with love, lust and the sheer disbelief there is someone out there that actually wants to spend time with you. You get married, you spend every waking moment gushing and babbling about your love for the other. This honeymoon period may last a few years, then the stresses of kids, mortgages and jobs start to consume every aspect of your relationship. Busy schedules leave both of you exhausted. This is why communicating telepathically is such a rewarding and worthwhile experience in any married couples’ life.

Long ago my husband and I had given up on fighting or yelling or nagging (well, sometimes I truly can’t help the nagging part, it’s a necessary evil). But really, we were just wasting precious energy. If we kept up with those things, we’d never be able to find the strength to reach for the remote or walk to the fridge for a beer.

When we first fell in love, we were both full of endless chatter, enthusiastic about every topic. Now? Well, we still want to talk, but sometimes we’re just too burnt out to do anything more than grunt or nod. Add to that the constant interruptions from our kids, we found having a simple conversation was almost impossible. So naturally, our interactions have slowly developed over the years, finally progessing to the point where we only communicate our innermost thoughts with subtle facial expressions. We are so in sync now, we just read each other’s mind–almost like we share one brain. Which is good because mine is almost gone.

Here’s a quick rundown of our 14 year relationship:

The Early Years–just dating and full of nonstop mind-numbing chatter

Him: So, what kind of music do you like? I’m really into Metallica…

Me: Ooh, wow, yeah I love Metallica! Well, just Enter Sandman, that’s the only song I know, but I love them soooo much! They like, totally rock!

Him: Yeah, totally, dude!

Me: They are SO cool.

Him: Totally!  I think I have a track here somewhere…

Me: OOH! WOW! Yeah! Once I almost saw them in concert, but my roommate, like, totally flaked so instead I saw Aerosmith.

Him: Get out! I love them!

Me: Yeah! And this one time, I was in the third row and I swear to GOD Steven Tyler winked at me!

Him: NO WAY!

Me: BLAH! Blahblahblahblibbityblibbityblahblahblahblahblah…

Him: Blahblahblah?

Me: Blah-blah BLAH blah blah! Blahblahblahblah! BLAH! Blahblahblahblahblah—
(etc. etc.)

Mid-marriage–about seven years in, conversations getting more blunt and to the point

(Metallica’s Enter Sandman blaring from husband’s stereo)

Me: Oh my god! Turn that crap off!

Him: What? I thought you liked them!

Me: No. I never said that. God, turn it off!

Him: No way, you always get to listen to your music. Aerosmith! Pssbbbt. God, they suck!

Me: Well, I can’t stand it! Turn it off!

Him: Don’t you dare turn it off! Don’t you dare–

Me: Hmmph! (turning off stereo)

Him: Gah!

Me:  Gah!

Married 12 Years–verbal communication not necessary

Husband pops Metallica CD into car radio.

Me: (glares)

Him: (pushes play and sheepishly raises his eyebrows)

Me: (glares, flares nostrils)

Him: (smiles cautiously)

Me: (narrows eyes)

Him: (slumps, takes Metallica CD and throws it out car window)

Me: (tilts chin up, smiles smugly)

See? So much energy was saved with a simple exchange of looks and gestures. Silence is golden. And this works with even the most complicated thoughts. Just imagine the secret discussions you and your spouse could have and no one would be the wiser!

With this next scenario, our secret language of slight gestures/expressions are in parenthesis. I will do the translating of our inner thoughts in italics for those out there who are telepathically-impaired or haven’t been married that long.

Discussing Easter plans with the in-laws:

Mother-in-law: “So what are you guys doing for Easter?”

Me: (side glance at husband) They are not coming to our house for dinner, we don’t have enough room and I am not going to cook.

Him: (raises one eyebrow) What if I do all the cooking?

Me: (opens mouth,  tips head to the side, rubs forehead, glares) You can’t be serious! You know damn well I would be the one left cleaning up all the mess and then you’ll run off to talk with your parents while I am stuck watching the kids and listening to my mother discuss her lactose-intolerance!

Him: (leans head back, scratches chin, sideways glance) Okay, so what if we have dinner at their house? (shrugs) My dad can cook, my mom can watch the kids and you can go for a walk by yourself, maybe catch up on some of your reading or go grab a cup of coffee? (rubs stomach) I know Starbucks has that cinnamon dolce latte you love so much…

Me: (smiles, rubs chin, eyes twinkle) Okay, sounds good. (leans forward, narrows eyes, flares nose) But I swear to God if your parents bring up politics in any way, shape or form I am outta there in a heartbeat (raises eyebrows, half smile) and tell your dad to make that German potato salad I like, (wrinkles nose) but make sure he goes easy on the pepper, I don’t do spicy. (glares, nods slightly) You know I don’t do spicy.

Him: (smiles) Done deal.

Mother-in-law: “Okay! So, it’s a plan. You’ll eat over at our place and Dad will make you the potato salad with no pepper!”

Both of us: (mouths drop open) Wow, she is GOOD.

Mother-in-law: “I know. Been married 42 years.”

81 thoughts on “In Your Eyes I Can See Forever…and Dinner

    1. yes, us too! I swear, I’ll be thinking something very specific like, “I really would love to eat some eggplant feta cheese pizza right now” and he will look at me and say, “Let’s make some eggplant feta pizza!” It is SPOOKY! We even play games to try and guess what word the other is thinking. This is what we’ve come to in our marriage because we never get the chance to talk to each other.

  1. Well played. Hubbs and I just passed 20 years and we still talk to each other wayyyyyyy too much; its hard to get a word in.

    He does know better than to suggest he cook though 🙂 MJ

    1. Our kids are still at the stage where they pretty much dominate any conversation we have, so our talking is all saved up for those moments we are alone together but usually I do all the nonstop talking…it’s like a dam breaking. My poor poor husband.

  2. What a perfect ending! 🙂 You got it just right. Love it.

    And my husband I will be married 12 years this year too. I totally get your non-verbal communication. Priceless. I never looked at it this way, but you’re right, “This is why communicating telepathically is such a rewarding and worthwhile experience in any married couples’ life.”

    And the slight smile on your part, at the end there, wishing for the potato salad — that’s great writing. Took me around the curve and back.

    1. I am happy you noticed those subtle words there, Melissa. That was very hard for me to write, to get the right rhythm down. Relieved that you guys are ‘getting’ what I’m talkin’ ’bout…sometimes I’m not so sure I should hit publish. Still got that writer’s anxiety I guess! I thought, will anyone relate to this at all?

      Yes, potato salad. (Half smile) You know I don’t do spicy. (Glare) How else do you communicate that with no words? haha!

  3. Good God. Sometimes I worry that my partner Sara and I act like we’ve been married for 40 years, when here in Kentucky that would actually be a violation of the Defense of Marriage Act. What gives?

    Very, very funny post!


  4. Hahahahahahahaha! *breathe* Hahahahahahahaha!
    Darla, this is priceless. You knocked this out of the park! Bravo and well done!
    Thankfully, my mother-in-law is as knowledgeable as your MIL.

  5. cooper

    Our 33rd anniversary is this year. We just passed the 40th anniversary of our first date (i’m not an octogenarian…the first date was high school). You’re still wasting time with the expressions. By the 25th anniversary you’ll fall into telepathy…

    1. I can only hope for this day, Cooper. Lately, I have noticed that I don’t even need any facial expressions most of the time to get my point across to my husband. It’s all in the eyes. Granted, a lot of the time it’s me either rolling them or glaring but the point is–it works.

  6. Wait a minute here. “You know I don’t do spicy.” Where have I heard this before? Hmmmm. Oh, yes, your mother. Are you turning into your mother? Nah. We never do.

    Wow, Darla and Jim in the Early Years sound like fun! They sound like the kind of two crazy kids that Angie and Mark would’ve loved to hang out with and party our asses off. Now? (Yawn.) I have to get up kinda early tomorrow. Maybe you could invite us over to your in-laws for potato salad? That’s more our speed.

  7. This piece brought to mind an old joke regarding the room-stages of marital relations. I realize that most of us men wouldn’t necessarily relate communication with sex, but it is a funny joke. Sadly, this forum is not the place for such ribald humor.

      1. perhaps I’ll try to tell that joke sometime, but I’m afraid the visual element of it would be lost on here. as for my writing about sex, I wouldn’t want to have that be the week when my wife decides to actually start reading my blog…

      2. I am lucky in that my husband has never read my blog and never will. I wrote about sex once and illustrated a diagram of the man’s brain divided into parts like sex, food, and when I showed it to my husband he said, “I don’t get it.” I think I’m safe writing about sex again here.

    1. Wait, I have a draft in my folder somewhere about sex (or maybe I just fantasized that I wrote a post about sex). Let me see if I can find it.

      Oh, maybe Peg can organize a Sex is the Word(Press) Day for us?

  8. singleworkingmomswm

    While this post has clearly sparked the “I’ve been married for a gazillion years” response, you know me, Darla- the NMDWBM (Not Married and Don’t Wanna Be Married)variety-only because I’m tired of burn marks. BUT, to be honest-this post was LOL hilarious business! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your descriptive expressions. Awesome writing. I’m still enjoying talking to we drop with my BF these days-not too sure if we’ll ever stop doing that, he and I. We’re both wordy “kids”. Hugs to ya! XOXO-SWM

    1. Your comment made me laugh! NMDWBM. Yeah, I can understand your feelings. Enjoy talkign with you BF as much as you can. I am also a VERY wordy person (I know, that is quite the shocker) and my husband is actually very good at getting his feelings out with a little push from me. So we are capable of talking each other’s ear off, we just never have a chance to do it with two little kids and my mother living next door.

      1. singleworkingmomswm

        Ha, I can relate to this. When my BF and I first met, we spent a lot of time with all of our kids together-thus, adult conversations were at a minimum. Now, his children have moved into the adolescent stage and don’t wanna spend as much time with “dad”, so when we hang out, it’s usually when Maycee is visiting her dad down south-thus we get that coveted adult alone-time. 🙂

        1. We are slowly getting there too. My son is almost ten and has morphed overnight into this tween creature who doesn’t want to talk to me much let alone be in the same room with me. My daughter has a long way to go, she is a chatterbox. I have no idea where she gets it.

  9. I love this – all of it. I’ve been married for ever – so long that “death do us part” doesn’t sound all that bad sometimes. We were that couple at dinner the other night. And yes, he did pick out his own clothes.

    1. Haha! “death do us part” doesn’t sound all the bad. I get you, Katy, I really get you.
      Jim and I actually went out to lunch for our recent anniversary without the kids and we did talk a lot. But we’ve only been married 12 years. I’m sure when that number is doubled we’ll just be content to sit in silence and shovel food in our mouths. I look forward to it.

  10. Do you have a hidden camera at our house? Indeed, like you guys, very little verbal conversation takes place between Scott and I me all the kid banter constantly bouncing off the walls. The well-placed, well-wrinkled looks are all that needed anymore.

    That MIL bit at the end? Award-winning, I tell you. Awesome post, Darla.

    1. Thank god you know what I’m talking about, Shannon. The kid banter has taken over completely in my house. Sometimes Jim and I have to shout at each other from across the room while the kids are jumping on our heads. Makes for very short conversations.

  11. Priceless, Darla! The last line with your MIL was CLASSIC! I’m still in the chatting non-stop with my husband phase, even though we’ve been together for 8+ years. I don’t know when we’ll graduate to telepathy, but hopefully we won’t be held back a level for *too* long. I used to be a star student! What is this “mostly failing at telepathy” crap??

    1. Don’t give up, you’ll get it. I think hitting 12 years is when it all starts, plus having a five year old daughter who talks NONSTOP and managed to take control of every single conversation my husband and I ever attempt. We still talk a lot, too when we get the rare chance. Usually it’s when we’re in the car on the way to pick up the kids.

  12. Haha! Me and the missus just passed the 12 year marriage milestone a couple of months ago and I now await eagerly for these couple Jedi mind powers to arrive. Wait a minute, I am sure my wife once said to me whilst strangely waving her hand, “These are not the Metallica CDs you are looking for”…

    1. Haha! Oh my god, so that explains why my husband waved his arm at me the other day in the kitchen and said, “These are not the beers you were looking for…” Oh, he is GOOD. But I’m onto him now…

      1. No, Darla, I am suggesting that someone, who shall remain nameless, is not above such tactics. That and a manilla envelope of blackmail pictures, plus the promise of a throwing in a round of drinks.

        I am getting pretty disgusted with WordPress – half the time I do not get post notifications from my favorites (even ones I have followed from the very beginning) and other times I get posts from bloggers I don’t even remember subscribing to. I hear others making comments about the same thing. I am so busy, threatening bar patrons and such, that I simply don’t have time to stalk, er…I mean actually have to type in web addresses. I mean, I have poems to write and all…

      2. If there’s anything in this world that I know for sure, it’s that nothing is ever worth laying off the tequila.

        This WP glitch is really getting me ticked. I have missed so many posts now. And I don’t want to have to stoop to actually stalking people blatantly. I prefer to stalk people without being noticed, otherwise, what’s the point?

    2. By the way, Ape. I just moseyed on over to Greatsby’s caption contest and checked the stats and you and I are neck and neck! It’s such an exciting race, we are tied for zero. (gasp!) who will win? Anybody but us!

      1. Equal third! Equal third!

        You know the old saying. The reason the winners stand so tall is that they stand on the faces of giants. At least I think it is faces. Either that or necks…

      2. Oh, yeah, poor HoaiPhai is also in the thick of the race with us. The suspense is killing me.

        I like that old saying. But I’m getting tired of having others stand on my face, it’s more than a little painful. And sad. Very sad.

      3. Hey, here’s what you do if you want votes (not that I would stoop that low). Go to a crowded bar. Threaten to get up on the bar and dance unless everyone takes out their cell phones and votes for your caption. Unbutton a unbutton or 2 to let them know you’re serious. When everyone in the bar has voted, adjust your clothing, blow a kiss or 2, and go to the next venue…

      4. Now wait a second here, Katy. First of all, are you saying people would be so mortified at the very idea that I’m unbuttoning my shirt and dancing on a bar that they would vote for me just to get me to stop? Is that what you’re saying? That I’m that repulsive? That my dance moves are that bad? Because if so, I will do it, dammit, great idea!

        Second, you are crushing everyone in the contest as usual. And I’ve noticed something. You always crush the competition. You swoop in there with a brilliant caption that leaves everyone else in the dust. What gives? And can you write my next caption for me?

      5. Last time I tried this I made it as far as the second button and then I heard whistling in the air closely followed by a sharp prick in my posterior. Next thing you know I wake up in a crate on it’s way to Australia. I hear this is not an uncommon story for many of us Aussies.

  13. That was an actual photo of Now Husband and I discussing what we would have for dinner in the evening. We do this every morning, shortly after hawking in the sink, letting the cat out, and arguing over who forget to buy the soy milk.

  14. This was hysterical, Darla! You need to keep adding to it after every milestone of your marriage. I can tell you, though, after over forty years of marriage, George and I love to actually talk to each other with words again.

    1. Susan, I am guessing that time will come for us once my daughter hits the teen stage and wants nothing to do with us anymore. I look forward to having an uninterrupted conversation then. I have a feeling I’ll be doing most of the talking though.

  15. As a single woman, when I was younger, I,too,spent a lot more time talking to myself. Nowadays, like you two, it’s just total telepathy. I seem to be able to read my own thoughts. Magic, I tell ya. pure magic.

    1. Haha! You are an incredible woman, Spectra. I wish I could read my own thoughts again. I used to read my cat’s thoughts when I was single. He seemed to always be saying the same thing to me: What are you staring at? Go make yourself useful and get me some food.

  16. “This is why communicating telepathically is such a rewarding and worthwhile experience in any married couples’ life.”

    HA!! This was amazing. I so love your writing. And the scene you painted in the beginning of the older couple going from ‘sad’ to ‘role models’ – YES.

  17. Lol I adore the progression you show here! What scares me is I have been with my boyfriend a year and I see this progession already taking place…hmm might be a bad sign?

  18. Very funny. My husband also cannot understand why I blog, and is resentful of the many hours one needs to be a blogger. Hours that mean I can’t sit next to him on the couch without saying a word, while we watch something on TV.

    I’ve always wondered about those married folks who eat an entire meal without saying a word to each other. I think that they never spoke, even on day one.

  19. Bwa ha ha ha ha! Oh my goodness! Too funny. And sooo true. My hubby and I have been married for going on 13 years and we’ve got the telepathic thing down fairly well, though I have to say I’m better at it that he is.

    He’s one of those kind of guys who wears his heart on his sleeve, so within a month of meeting him, I knew him inside and out and knew what he was thinking better than he did (emotionally speaking, anyway). We would talk and he would be at a loss for words, and I would fill in the blanks. And he would say, “Yes, yes that’s exactly it! How did you know?”

    But he’s getting better at reading me now, too. We’re not quite at the entire conversation level, yet, but we’re working on it. LOL. 🙂

    1. Same here, I am MUCH better at reading the subtle signals and signs than my husband. But he’s not a lost cause, he’s still got time. I’m sure once we hit the 25th anniversary mark, he’ll know what I mean when I roll my eyes at him.

  20. Having suffered through my husband’s biannual attempt to play his own music last weekend, this is so unbelievably timely for me! You wrote some wise, wise stuff here about marriage and I’m grateful (I’m also 17 years in…).

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