I envied him for being such a sound sleeper. He didn’t hear me tossing and turning last night. He didn’t feel the bed shaking as I tried to stifle my sobs. He didn’t even notice when I slipped out of bed and sat in the living room by myself for an hour. He didn’t hear the kettle whistle when I decided sleep wasn’t happening for me and that 4 a.m. is as good a time as any for a hot cup of Darjeeling.
He sleeps so soundly, that he doesn’t even realize how close the end of us is. I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired of pretending we’re happy. We’re not. No, I’m not. He fine. He comes home to a clean house, good meals, very few arguments and good loving. He pays the bills, watches the games, washes the cars, gets the oil changed, smokes with the guys and comes home at night. That’s supposed to be enough to make me happy. Five years together, and that’s what I’m supposed to be happy with.
Last Friday was the final straw for me. We were watching the news while eating dinner. The “good news” story of the night was an elderly couple living at a senior home that decided to tie the knot. His first wife died ten years ago, her first love died in the war when they were young and she never married. I thought the idea of marrying at that age was sweet. He said, “He’s a fool!”
“Why would you say that?”
“He’s 80 and she’s 79. They aren’t going to be able to really enjoy that marriage!”
“Listen, he probably can’t even get it up anymore. They’re both in wheelchairs, they’ll never have any alone time. They can’t travel or do anything other than wheel around the darn nursing home! That’s a waste!”
“How about companionship? They have someone to spend their last days with. It’s not all about sex all the time, you know! Fifty years from now, you might not be able to get it up, and sex just might not be interesting to me at all. Just because the physical parts aren’t functioning like they used to, that’s not a reason to give up on love. At least when they die, they’ll have someone by their side. And for her, she didn’t have a ‘someone’ for so long! Now, she has a love! I think it’s sweet!”
“Look, after a certain point, you just got to hang it up and deal with reality. Marriage isn’t for everyone. 80 years old is too old to be thinking about settling down.”
“So you think there’s an age limit for marriage?”
“Yup,” he said as he shoved the last piece of meatloaf and mashed potatoes into his mouth.
“So what’s the age limit?”
“40 for women, and 45 for men.”
“I guess I’m screwed, then.”
“Why are you screwed? We’re good! We take good care of each other! Besides, in 5 more years, we’ll be common law. We don’t have to worry about the expense of a wedding, or any of that.”
I couldn’t even respond. I was stunned. Five years into this relationship, and he wasn’t even thinking about marriage. I got up and began cleaning the kitchen. He came in behind me.
“Aww, come on, baby! Don’t start sulking! You know I love you! We don’t need to mess up a good thing with paperwork and expensive fanfare! We are going to be together forever!”
“Just leave me alone.”
He said something else, but I tuned him out and continued cleaning up the kitchen. He left for a few hours. I had a cry to myself, and by the time he came home, I was in bed, fast asleep.
On Saturday morning, I woke up, went to the gym, ran a few errands and came home. I had some time to think while I was out and decided to start looking for a place of my own. If this relationship wasn’t going to lead to marriage, I needed to put on my big girl panties and move on. If a 79-year-old woman could get a proposal, then so could I. When I came home, he was there waiting for me.
“We need to talk,” he said.
“Look, I know you’re upset about the marriage thing, so…let’s do it.” The last three words were muffled.
“Let’s get married.”
“What do you mean, ‘no?’ Last night you were sulking about what I said about marriage, now I’m compromising to give you what you want and you say, ‘no?'”
“Wait…that was your proposal to me? ‘Let’s do it?’ That’s how a pubescent boy invites a girl to hop into bed with him! That’s not how a grown man proposes to the woman he claims to want to spend the rest of his life with! I deserve better than that!”
“Look, you know I’m not the romantic type. That ‘get down on one knee’ thing isn’t me. Getting married is important to you, so let’s do it.”
“I’m not asking again!”
And that was it. He didn’t bring it up again, and neither did I. But it broke me down. He really thought I was desperate enough to jump at the on that “proposal.” He didn’t even have a ring for me. That’s when it dawned on me. This wasn’t love. It was an arrangement that was working largely in his favor. He got all the benefits of a wife, and I got the satisfaction of having a long-term boyfriend. The sad thing is, I saw the signs a while ago. I thought doing wifely things would make him want to marry me. I accepted the nickname, “Wifey” but didn’t make clear that I wanted the official title. Well, never again. In just 5 short days, I found a place to live, signed the lease and got some basic furniture. The lease on this place is in his name. He can have it and all the furniture, too. I don’t want anything that reminds me of not being appreciated. Most of my clothes were already packed. I’ll let him know I’m leaving when he wakes up.
In my heart of hearts, I don’t want to leave, but compromise isn’t a reason to stay together. I guess I was the one who was sleeping all these years. But I’m awake now. Yeah. I’m awake now.