The following is a brief excerpt from a novel I am dissecting and reworking, He Remains Faithful
On New Year’s, Mike and Kelly went out to dinner alone. A girl from down the street took care of the kids. It had been a long time since they had been alone anywhere. They went to a local family type restaurant. For the first few minutes they chatted about the kids, the holidays, and the specials. Then they fell silent. After the waitress had taken their order, Mike looked at Kelly and sighed. “Kelly, can I ask you a question?”
“Have I done something wrong? Have I hurt you in some way? You seem angry at me lately.”
“No, why do you ask?” Kelly answered, guarded.
“Kelly, we’ve been married a long time. I can tell when you’re not okay.”
Kelly felt a surge of irritation. “Isn’t it hard to do that while you’re working all the time?”
Mike looked hurt. “You said you supported my going into business. You said you understood the work load.”
“I do…I did. But we’re still married, Mike. I still need you.”
“I try to help out when I can. Maybe I’m not doing enough, but I do try.”
“Mike,” Kelly struggled to keep her temper in check.” If you think my main problem is how often you wash the dishes, then you really don’t get it.”
“Then what? I don’t know of anything else that could be wrong.”
Kelly was seized by an anger she couldn’t explain or control.
“Good God!” She spat. “Are you blind? You don’t love me. I can feel it. Or maybe it’s what I don’t feel anymore.”
Mike’s eyes grew wide. “What are you taking about? Of course I love you.”
“You are committed. You are going to fulfill your duty and be obedient. But you don’t feel anything anymore. You don’t touch me. You don’t want to be with me. We only made love five times last year. I feel so lonely, and you don’t even know I am there most of the time.”
Mike seemed stunned. He folded his napkin and looked around, trying to compose himself.
“Why haven’t you told me any of this? You haven’t been around much for me to be in love with you. Going to dinner with friends, working on big presentations, staying at the office for all hours And if you need me to touch you, you can always ask, not that it’s easy now that you have made the guest room your own.”
Kelly closed her eyes; she was not going to cry. “Why should I have to ask? You’re the man. You’re supposed to be the pursuer. You’re supposed to want me.” As soon as she said it she realized she had hurt Mike deeply. She knew she should apologize, but the unexplainable anger she was feeling kept her from doing so.
Now Mike was angry. “Kelly, I try to be what you need, and I try not to upset you. Lord knows that’s not the easiest thing to do lately. You are so unpredictable. One day your in a frenzy, either happy as a clam or on a rampage. The next day you’re too tired to even do a load of laundry. I get home from a long day, trying to provide for us, and I can’t even find a place to put my briefcase.”
“Well, maybe you should have married a wife who was a neat freak with no sex drive. Then you’d be happy.”
Mike looked away, and Kelly thought she saw his lip trembling. “If you really don’t think I love you, there’s nothing I can do about it.” He threw the credit card on the table. “I’ll be waiting in the car.”