Top Secret Washington isn’t just about life in Washington, D.C. — it’s about my life in Washington, DC. Today I’d like to share some of that with you.
One of my pet peeves has always been our TV. No, I’m not one of those people who thinks TV is evil. Instead, it has been the seating around the TV which has always been a massive problem. Before we moved into our home, we lived in an apartment where the room configuration forced us to sit in separate spots to watch the telly. When we moved into our present house, the prewired TV spot forced us to look at it sideways — something my husband remedied by lying on the sofa and leaving no space for me.
Honestly, how could I fault him for that? Looking at the TV any other way caused massive neck strain. However, it forced me on the opposite side of the room to a place where I couldn’t see the TV well and the equivalent of Siberia — cold and lonely away from his embrace. I missed the days when we used to cuddle on the sofa while watching our favorite programs.
I solved the problem by moving the TV into our little library and getting the most wonderful loveseat — one with dual recliners. We’re closer to the TV and have a much better view. The leather is fairly spill proof, so I don’t need to nag at him about eating in there. We’re nice and snug next to each other while in the most luxurious, feet propped up-position.
For years I said that loveseat saved our marriage.
Then it didn’t.
The most comfortable room to watch TV in the house also became the most comfortable room for my husband to read his newspaper. Now, he doesn’t just read a newspaper, he devours them. On a Sunday, he’s likely to buy three papers and read them, I do not exaggerate, from cover-to-cover.
Newspapers, however, have a mind of their own. They scatter everywhere, going from a compact folded version to a mess of sections and read pages that never seem to fold back exactly as they arrived. More and more often I’d go into the library and find my half of the loveseat covered with papers, magazines, and a half eaten hoagie.
My feeling of isolation, and rejection, was massive. I felt unwanted. I didn’t want to dilute his pleasure, nor did I want to nag, so I would disappear into another room. I couldn’t enjoy TV, or reading, because all I could think about was that my husband didn’t want me next to him. This must be a psychological manifestation of his desire to keep me away, right?
I spoke to him about it eventually, and his heartfelt denial gave me hope. But every time I went into the room, the newspapers, and now mail and books, were piled high. I’d stamp my foot. I became a nag. He’d sigh and move things. His voice became petulant as he said, “you just have to ask me.”
Why did I have to ask him? I thought. Why wasn’t there a clear invitation for me to be there? I must admit, I felt our marriage becoming a little strained — at least on my side — as I imagined all kind of motives behind his blatant rejections. I forgot one thing.
He is a man.
Men think differently than women do. They tend to be much more concrete in their thoughts and actions. When my husband said, “all you have to do is ask,” he truly meant that. He couldn’t connect the dots I shouldn’t have to ask. He saw convenient unused space and thought, why shouldn’t I use that area if she’s not in it? What does it take to clear it off? On my side, I thought, why should I have to stand around and wait, why can he not understand he’s sending out a message I’m inconveniencing him and not invited into his little reading nest, the place he’s most relaxed and happy?
So, I stood up for my right to be loved.
One day I came into his room — the library had stopped being our room — and told him to please stand up. A normally compliant guy, he laughed, and said, “okay, now what?” I gave him a kiss and sat down on HIS side of the sofa. The expression of disbelief on his face was priceless.
“Wha? What are you doing?” he asked.
“Look, this is my sofa as much as yours. Why do I need to wait to sit upon it? Why do I need to feel like room needs to be made, and not always available? Why do I need to feel disrespected and uninvited and stand around while you clear it off?”
“No, if these items need to be here, then let them have that importance, but I’m entitled to a seat. So whichever side doesn’t have papers, immediately belongs to me.”
He couldn’t argue with my logic.
The first few times I did this, he was bewildered. Yet, I persisted. Now it has taken hold. When I even venture near the library he either immediately clears the seat next to him like a speed demon and looks up eager for me to take my place, or he gets up and says, “no, honey, sit here, while I deal with this mess.”
I sit like a queen, who doesn’t ask to be included, but knows it is her right — by the vows of marriage, and by the right of having been his companion, stood by his side, and helped him in innumerable ways. Most especially, by my right of knowing deep in my heart he does love me, does want me near him, and it’s his “man” brain getting in the way.
I just had to turn off my “woman” brain that held all my insecurities and feelings of unworthiness. The side of me that made me doubt I could really be loved by such a great guy.
The result? We’re back to cuddling big time and I feel strong and happy in our life together. His hand rests in mine as we watch everything from the news to the local quiz show. I realize we often have bridges between us, and while my pride wants him to cross to me, or even come halfway, life is too short for that. Sometimes it is up to me to cross all the way and insist that we live happily ever after.
From now on, I will always stand up for my right to be loved.
Thank you for Jamie Wright’s post: You Can Never Have Too Much Sofa, which inspired me to write about my own “sofa” experience today.
Categories: On My Mind