I’d gotten home from work around 10pm. after a 14-hour day. It was the start of the term, and I was setting up some programs at the university. Mel, my wife, had been home all day with three sick, boogery, feverish kids.
I walked in, and Mel was at the table, eating cookies and milk while looking at a laptop. She was still in jeans and a t-shirt. Usually by this time of the day she is in PJs, but the fact that she hadn’t taken the time to unwind and undress told me she’d had a rough day.
After working 14 hours, the one thing I wanted was a kiss and to hold my wife. When I was in my 20s, this usually meant sex. But now, in my 30s, I’m more interested in simple physical contact with my wife. People often describe me as a people person, but honestly, it’s not true. Social interaction feels a lot like acting to me. I’m good at making jokes to disarm a person. But honestly, I often find chatting with others exhausting. With Mel, my wife, I don’t feel that. I feel a deep comfort in Mel’s arms. There is also something about being at work, sitting across from people, chatting, legs crossed, arms folded, handshakes, and formality that makes me long for some form of real physical contact that I really only get from my wife.
I sat next to Mel, put my arms around her, and kissed her cheek. And as much as I wanted her to turn and embrace me, she didn’t. She kept her body slightly rigid, hands forward on the keyboard.
I pulled away.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I just spent all day with sick boogery kids clawing at me. I don’t want to be touched for a while. I just…want some space,” she said.
I felt offended. It made me feel like she didn’t love me. I was her husband of 10 years. She should want to be held by me…right? I wasn’t one of her children, I was her husband.