Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | November 9, 2009

Dreading the phone…

Because I’ve been the demonstrative one in our marriage, I’ve been the one to make sure that our phone calls end with “I love you.” I’ve always been the first one to say it. It’s part of the getting-off-the-phone ritual. Penny typically would respond “Love you, too,” or, “Loveyoutoo”, usually with as little emotion as one could imagine.

She and I talk on the phone many times each day, to touch base on work, schedule things with the kids, etc.

A few days after our initial talk two weeks ago about divorce, I began forcing myself to stop offering the “I love you.” It was difficult.

Imagine my surprise when, after the second or third phone call where I didn’t say it… she did. Wow, did that throw me for a loop.

Is there hope here? Or is she just trying to keep the status quo going? And even if she is starting to think that maybe she’d prefer to stay married… is that what I want?

Yes, it’s a textbook play from Headgames You Can Play On Yourself, which I’ve been writing for years. Classic.

It happened again a week or so later. The second or so call of the day, she volunteered those three words. The headgame play-by-play resumed in my mind. And then, there must have been a dozen or more calls between us that day (an unusually high number), almost all initiated by her. There were pregnant pauses at the end of each conversation where those three words belonged, but were not said.

At this point, I began to realize that I don’t want to talk with her on the phone any longer, because I don’t want to have to deal with the proverbial Elephant On The Phone.

I seem to recall that was last Wednesday. We haven’t had a “Talk” since (although I still need to mention about a second Talk we’d had, the week after our first one). But now it’s a conscious thing; every time she calls, I dread answering the phone. If I need to get information from her, I e-mail her (which she ignores, so then I just end up asking her the next time she calls). The pregnant pauses are gone. I simply don’t volunteer those three words, and neither does she.

I don’t want to stay in a marriage where I don’t say “I love you” to my wife, and where my wife won’t say it to me. We are, I believe, now in the process of formally chipping away at the remaining threads that have tenuously held what was left of our marriage together.

And while it’s sad to see them go — it feels a little like dying each time — it’s also making me more resolute. After years of indecision and fear, I’m starting to work up some forward momentum.



  1. She sounds like the classic woman who suddenly wants what she can’t have, and has suddenly realized she’s about to lose that thing that she never actually wanted in the first place.

  2. Saying “I love you” has been a habit. It would take a while for the habit to surrender to reality. I wouldn’t read any more into it than this, or else your book will need another chapter added to it.

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