It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
I tell him that I don’t feel good. That I feel like something’s chasing me.
I’m not always great at knowing the words for the symptoms I’m having, or at least trusting that I’m using the right ones, especially when I’m anxious.
So I describe how I’m feeling in long form, and he pulls me to his chest and says, “You need cuddles.”
“You don’t have to, you know. I know you’re tired.”
But he won’t let me go. And with his free hand, he lures our cat closer to me by suggestively waggling his fingers in the cat’s field of vision. The cat climbs up on me, purring, nuzzling my hand and then my face with his little nose.
“See? He knows you need cuddles, too,” he says.
We stay that way for a while. I talk to him about existential stuff. I’m being neurotic, but he indulges me. And as we talk, the chase going on inside my chest slows. Within a few minutes, it’s back to its normal crawl.
“You’re such a good friend,” I say to him. “That’s what I love most about you: You never stopped being my friend when we started dating. And you never stopped being my boyfriend when we got married.”
He smiles and rolls over to go to bed.
And as I’m falling asleep, my mind drifts to all the times that he’s helped me with my tech issues at the oddest hours of day.
“Tech support boyfriend!” I’d said as he scrutinized a laptop’s lit screen. I’d used the same voice that they do to announce prizes on a game show. “Troubleshoots for you in his underwear! Looks devastatingly handsome the entire time!”
The smile he just gave me is the same one he gave me then.
And it’s the same smile he gives me any time he sees me running down the stairs with a fancy dress half-on, having worked the whole day from home in my pajamas only to realize I’d lost track of time and only have four minutes to doll myself up so I’ll be cute by the time he sees me.
“You’re always cute,” he says whenever I explain that to him, half out of breath, zipping up the back. “But thank you.”