I have rearranged the furniture in my house a thousand times, in my head. It’s the visual lullaby that sings me to sleep at night and the only thing that will keep my mind off my marriage, which has gone down for the third time. I mentally catalogue the things he’ll take when he moves out and where I will place the few pieces I’m keeping. He thinks I’m being generous, letting him take our enormous king bed, but I can’t wait to see it go.
I never wanted to trade in our cozy queen for a king, but despite our many long discussions, one day, it appeared: the bed we’d agreed not to purchase. He promised I wouldn’t be sorry about the monolith that took-up two-thirds of the room. He said it would be just as cozy as our other bed. But let’s face it; any bed that can comfortably house two adults, two enormous dogs and two cats that hog the covers, is not a bed. It’s Noah’s Friggin’ Ark!
The lack of intimacy between us had been waning for months and adding an extra foot and a half to the already great divide only further separated us (one more reason to hate the bed). And then one evening, my husband erected a wall between us. Literally.
At first it was just a couple of hardcover books piled one on top of the other, which were bound together by a hot-pink, raggedy towel and placed directly in the middle of the bed. I called it the Berlin Wall, which was funny, in a passive-aggressive kind of way, and this became a running joke. He defended the wall, claiming it held the covers in place (like I said, our cats are blanket hogs.) But I suspected it went deeper than that and as if he couldn’t wait to prove me right, Frank Lloyd Wrong decided the wall needed an addition.
This came in the form of a large pillow he perched on top of the towel-bound books, hiding him entirely from view. He claimed the pillow was only there to block the glare from my reading lamp, but he couldn’t fool me. Not only did he want to obliterate me from his sight, he wanted to edge me off the bed and out of his life.
People put up walls for all kinds of reasons: To protect themselves, to hide from the world, to define their space, but for him it went deeper than that. He had hit a rough patch in his career that had turned into a rocky road and it was destroying him. He couldn’t face himself so he didn’t want me to see him either.
I had tried to be the supportive wife, the patient wife, the stoic wife and the understanding wife but none of these personas fit the bill, evidently, because he wouldn’t talk to me about his feelings. Instead, he blithely erected a wall and acted as if it was no big deal.
No big deal? Mismatched sheets are no big deal. Running out of milk is no big deal. Erecting a damn wall between your wife and yourself on a bed that’s already big enough to warrant its own zip code? That’s a BIG DEAL!
But true to form, he clung to the rocks of denial and excuses as if the truth might drown him. He claimed that he loved me with all his heart and he thought that The Berlin Wall was normal, like all married couples had one in their homes. I took a poll. They didn’t. He had officially become the President of Fantasy Land. Too bad it didn’t pay better.