In preparation for discussions with my wife I’m going to write her some letters (“Letters To Wife”) here to help organize my thoughts in a way that I can communicate to her. I have not sent these to her, but perhaps in the future I will.
Last night we had a guest over for dinner. Your friend Mary. It was nice to visit, and catch up with her. I know she enjoyed seeing the kids, too.
However I wanted to let you know how you made me feel while our guest was with us. Invisible. I know you didn’t do it intentionally, but it happened nonetheless.
From the moment Mary arrived you started talking to her very quickly and with lots of excited animation. I understand that she is one of your best friends, and honestly I wouldn’t mind except this pattern happens quite frequently with us and a variety of visitors. It is as if you stop paying attention to me and the kids. We already struggle with the feeling of coming in second place with your job. We shouldn’t also disappear during social situations. It’s very upsetting. I was visibly upset, but you never saw it.
You may not have noticed that I was with you for dinner because I was hardly able to speak until the very end. I was at the table with you. I had things to say on several of the stories discussed, but there were no gaps, no pauses for someone to add content. No acknowledgement of my existence.
I was also watching our children. Playing with our daughter so that she wouldn’t feel neglected. Yes neglected. I don’t think you see it at all, but when you are in an excited conversation with someone you end up neglecting our daughter. Thankfully I was there, but what if I wasn’t? I know you are going to argue with me on this point. Claim you were there watching her the whole time. It’s bullshit. She could’ve gotten away with murder had I not been there. Your attention is 110% on your guest until something forces you to divide it (like your daughter falling off a box).
I also know from experience that you will go through each of my points and attempt to prove me wrong on this one very specific night. But it’s not just this one night. It happens nearly anytime we have guests or are guests. Your children and I drop out of your focus. It becomes increasingly hard for me to communicate with you as your spouse. There are no subtle signals I can give you as to what’s going on because you’re not paying any attention to me. As if I cease to exist. If I force your attention you often get upset that I was rude and interrupted you. Yes I did! Because I had been trying to get your attention for 20 minutes and you won’t fucking look at me!
Next you will ask what I think you should’ve done differently. I don’t know and I’m not prescribing anything. You can decide how you want to change or if you do. I’m telling you how your actions made me feel.