Friday, January 25, 2013
Marriage 501, Lecture 21: Which is why I spend 20 minutes of take-home pay on coffee
As I have told you many times before, SH and I are in a mixed marriage.
One of the areas where we disagree is on the proper function of timekeeping devices in a bedroom.
I prefer a spare, lean look in my bedroom. My dresser is clear, except for a few family photos. I used to keep my favorite jewelry in a bowl on top of the dresser, but then we got cats. I keep my library books on the shelf of my nightstand. On top of my nightstand, I have a lamp, a candle, and my alarm clock. Which is not digital. Which does not shine in the night. Which is pretty and not ugly, which, by definition, all digital clocks are. All of them. You cannot prove me wrong on this. There is no such thing as an attractive clock that has to be plugged in. I might even go as far as to say there is no such thing as an attractive anything that has to be plugged in. I would have to think about that, but I do not find TVs, stereos, refrigerators, or microwaves to be esthetically pleasing. They are necessary evils. (Except for the TV. That is not necessary at all. Except to watch your "Friday Night Lights" DVD.)
SH, on the other hand, likes to have stuff available. He has clothes, magazines, mail, and cats stacked on top of his dresser. There is a rabbit fur we got for the cats at the state fair last summer that the cats couldn't care less about. There is a crumpled foil toy for the cats that they do care about. A Rachel Maddow book. A CD. A wooden puzzle of a penguin that is lying flat because if it is standing, the cats attack it. A box we got in Morocco. A cat brush. He has two years' worth of car and airplane magazines stacked under his nightstand, along with two pairs of shoes. He has another dozen magazines on top of his nightstand. He also has a lamp and a digital clock.
Which he does not need, as I have a clock on my nightstand.
But SH likes to know what time it is when he wakes up in the night.
I do not.
I do not want to know what time it is when I am sleepless or when I wake up to use the bathroom. I don't want to know how many precious hours I have wasted tossing and turning and I don't want to know how few hours of rest I have remaining. I want to believe I can sleep as long as I want to, that the alarm will never ring. I never look at his clock. I cannot. If I know I have been up, sleepless, for two or three hours, I will get so depressed about not sleeping that I can't fall asleep at all. If I know I have only an hour until the alarm goes off, my body says, "Why even bother going back to sleep?"
I don't want to know what time it is.
Last night, SH was in the middle of his existential/middle-aged crisis. The one where you wonder where your career can go and if you can change it at this stage in your life. The one where you worry about the demands that your elderly, in poor health parents are making on you. Where you wonder what the meaning of your life is and have you taken the right path and is there any choice left ahead of you. The one that keeps you - and your spouse - up late.
I don't know why I couldn't sleep. I just couldn't. It wasn't that SH was having his crisis loudly. But I realized he had not fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, which is usually what happens, so after my second trip to the bathroom in what seemed like ten minutes but I discovered later was much more, I asked him what was going on.
(How come when I have fluids in the morning, I need to pee right away, like while I'm on the bus to work? But when I have them at 5 p.m., my body holds onto them until 11?)
He told me and we talked. I wasn't sleeping anyhow, so I thought I would act like a supportive wife and listen to my husband in his time of need and despair.
Then we finally decided to try to sleep, as I get up at 6 for work.
I didn't know how long we had been up. We had turned out the lights at 10.
SH got up and picked up his phone. Turned it on. Cast a blue light into the bedroom.
Me: You know exposure to computer light actually stimulates some kind of brain wave that makes it hard to sleep.
SH: Just this little bit won't bother me. Besides, I want to check woot.
Me: Why do you have to check it now?
SH: Because they always post their new stuff at midnight.
Me: What? What did you say?
SH: They post their new stuff at midnight.
Me: Omigod. I cannot believe you said that. I cannot believe you told me what time it was.
SH: Oh no.
Me: Now I know that it's been over two hours since we turned out the lights and over two hours of trying to fall asleep. Now I'll never get to sleep.
SH: I'm sorry.
Me: You've ruined it. You've ruined the entire night for me.
SH: I am so sorry, sweetie.
Easy for him to say. He fell asleep in a few minutes. I lay awake. Sigh.