Overheard at Dinner: A Marriage Settled In

When we were married four years ago, my dinner conversations with Gregg were the typical newlywed conversations.

“What are you thinking?”
“How much I love you!”
“I love you, too!”
“You’re so beautiful!”
“Aw, that’s so sweet, YOU’RE so beautiful!”

So, yeah, that was great. Tonight’s dinner conversation included the following:

“Kettle corn killed the pioneers.”
“Umhm.”
“Well, kettle corn, and typhoid. And starvation. And bears.”

“Why did they call Rice-a-Roni the San Francisco Treat?”
“Because Jerry Rice played football for San Francisco.”
“No it wasn’t.”
“Yes it was.”
“No it wasn’t.”
“Do you know of any other reason why they would call it that?”
“No.”
“Then yes it was.”

“Imagine you had 20 kittens, what a racket they would make.”
“Kittens are quiet.”
“No, they go ‘mewmewmewmew’.”
“Do you even know what a kitten sounds like? Because that sounds like a bird.”

(Random whistling of the Rice-a-Roni jingle.)

“You know what this potato needs? A pop-up timer, like they have on turkeys.”
“Holy crap, yes they do! You’re the smartest husband ever. You blind me with your brilliance.”

“If I were 88, I’d just buy my fudge brownies at a bakery. Or chocolate covered popcorn.”
“Did you take your Lipitor?”

In the beginning, there was a lot of pressure to maintain the level of passion and intrigue of a new romance. There was also the need to avoid awkward silence by filling it not only with romantic platitudes, but with our stories.

“Did you know…”
“Once when I was little…”
“The first time I…”

Many conversations later, the stories are all told, and sometimes retold. And I love Gregg’s stories. Being such a quiet and intensely private man, his stories are small jewels to be treasured. I have loved getting to know him, as it was (is) like solving a mystery. But when he is done sharing, he’s done sharing, and it’s time to move along quietly. Stories and romantic scripts aside, we find ourselves now in the quiet space of a settled-in marriage.

What fills the silence after this, is what counts. Now we talk about work, but know when too much talk about work is stressful. We talk politics, but know when to stop before we offend. We have heartfelt conversations when we need to, but not when we don’t. As a recovering over-analyst, it took me a long time to appreciate the beauty of conversations about the weather over conversations about The State of Our Union. Instead of digging up bones, I am now content to share the latest Facebook gossip while making s’mores over our gas range.

Our conversations about things that don’t exactly matter reassure me that Gregg’s inner thoughts, during his most quiet moments, are probably about furnace filters or Willie Nelson songs, not about another woman or how I don’t fulfill his emotional needs.

He still tells me he loves me, and that’s great, but now we don’t need to count the ways. I already know. What I want to know more about is how to get the pop-up timer in the potato. I think we’re onto something, here.

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