In the middle of October, J was committed to do a presentation at a conference south of San Antonio and I had a committee meeting for 4 days in Austin, so we decided to go together. We found a hotel close enough to the meeting that I could walk for the day that J would be gone, and we could spend some time in Austin together, without E or any other worries. We were supposed to leave at noon on the 14th, and by the morning of the 13th I was almost completely unable to stand or sit without unbelievable pain. I went to my doctor, who took x-rays and showed me that the disc at L5/S1 seems to have disappeared, which had caused the nerve to be pinched and inflamed. Recommendation – no sitting. This Rx put paid to any chance that I could ride in a car to Austin, and then sit in a meeting for 4 days. I canceled our reservations, notified my committee, and J made arrangements to go alone to just his part of the trip. The next morning, E got dizzy in the shower, fell and hit her head, ended up with a massive headache and blurred vision in one eye, leading to an ER visit and a diagnosis of concussion. So, as it turned out, our plans for a romantic getaway were just not a reality. J was very sympathetic and loving, and help set up the house so that I would be OK and could take care of E even if I could barely sit, stand or walk.
J left for his meeting on Thursday morning and called in the early afternoon after his first business meeting, full of enthusiasm and excited about a new publication project. He called again after the evening social, telling me all about how beautiful the inn was and how much he hoped we would be able to come back and stay together – that he thought it would be perfect for a romantic getaway. He called the next day after his presentation, saying that his meeting seemed to have gone particularly well and that officials from the NPS had approached him about continuing to work for them under a different contract. He seemed somewhat euphoric, and said that he was not coming straight home – he was going to stay with colleagues and do some trail evaluation with them the next day, and would be home Saturday. I didn’t hear from him again, and as it got later and later on Saturday night, his phone just rang and rang, and I didn’t know whether to be scared or furious. For the first time in our married life, he did not come home, did not call or text, and did not respond to calls or texts. I was really worried, and did not sleep well. Finally, by 5:30 a.m., I got up, showered and got dressed because I was convinced that the police were going to call after having found him dead in a ditch. He had finally called collect at 6:30 the next morning, mumbling something about his phone not working, exhaustion and a ticket. I was so relieved when he called that I didn’t even yell at him – I just made chicken stew.
When he got home he was dirty and exhausted and totally freaked out, crying and hugging E, and babbling. We didn’t know what to do. After E packed up her stuff and went home, he ate, showered and calmed down. He asked me to come and sit beside him on the couch, held my hand, and gave me a partial explanation for his behavior. He very seriously said that other women had noticed him during the weekend. I laughed because other women had noticed him throughout our relationship – their attention didn’t matter, it was his that did. He said then that he had also noticed them – that he was desperate for love and attention, and that we had not had sex in almost two months, and that he thought that I didn’t want or need him any more. He said he wanted OUR marriage and OUR relationship – not one with anyone else.
He went on to explain that he had spent Friday night with two miserable colleagues, bitter men who were angry about their lives. One man lost his wife to an illness almost a decade ago, but has not been able to recover. The other is so grouchy and bitter that one day his wife picked up her purse and drove away without ever looking back – she never even moved any of her furniture or household belongings. J insisted that he didn’t want to end up that way. He was so upset and expressed so much of what I felt that I told him that I had been feeling lost and unwanted – even unloved. I admitted that I had been avoiding sex for a few weeks, and even avoiding any situation in which he might see me partially dressed. I really didn’t want to be that vulnerable in front of someone who didn’t want me. The discussion made me feel so much closer to him, and I explained clearly that the last thing I wanted to lose him over was sex – I like sex. We made love, and I felt more connected to him than I had in a long time.