It as during one of these discussions - which often happen too late at night to be truely useful, but are way way better than not having them - that she mentioned that she was "just renting" and, a subsequent night, asked me how long I preferred to kneel there to compose my thoughts (as I indicated to her would be useful at one point). Which totally "broke" it for me.
The following night, I just asked her if I could get in to bed, and did. I mentioned that I thought we needed to talk about what that whole ritual means.
Much to my surprise, several (two? three?) times in the following days, she asked when we were going to talk about it. And with our busy family life, the moment didn't come until unexpectedly on Monday night, both of our kids were at activities and we were facing eachother of ther dinner table.
Here it is Sunday, and I'm just getting around to writing that down, which means I've forgotten most of what we said.
- How having that conversation be about "how was your day?" does not work for me; that's not what it's about
- How I can't remember how we got to this ritual, but if it doesn't mean anything to her, then it doesn't mean anything to me
- About how it's not how long it takes for me to reflect and get centered, it's about when she wants to have the conversation.
- About my fantasy that some day she'll just decide I should sleep on the floor - not acknowledging me or not inviting me to bed
- About how, on the day that I asked her if I could go upstairs and she said yes, but then didn't come up for a long time, I got a pillow and blanket and went to sleep, or dozed, waiting for her. And she felt that this was a rebuke, I said quite the opposite: it was an acknowledgement that I would do what I needed to do, and she can come to bed on whatever schedule works for her - she needn't worry about me.
- About how asking me "what have you done for me today" as part of the nightly formula is difficult for her. I asked her if that could be her "growing edge" since, (thought I didn't put it this way), I'd like to encourage her sense of entitlement to my service. Which doesn't me she can't appreciate it. In fact, not appreciating it now, or not expressing that appreciation, is one of the problems - one of the things that makes me feel ignored or like I'm doing this as a "one person fantasy" in which she's a passive but acknowleged and acquiescing actor.
- I appreciated her strong statement that this is not just my fantasy and she is just a prop in it. She strongly said that to do so would be intellectually and emotionally dishonest of her - another shining example of her incorruptible integrity, which in this case forces her to engage in this pursuit with me, even though it's not her preference.
- I acknowledged that I erred in suggesting that I prefer a certain amount of time to compose myself, and we became explicit (I hope) that it's about when she's ready to talk, not when I've completed some process.
- How much I like the aspect of this ritual and the "coming home" ritual (which only works out about once a week, but that's OK), where the conversation has 100% of my attention until she decides she's done - similar to "Whipped into Shape"s solitary post.
- About how this is so similar to many aspects of spiritual paths. It requires surrender on my part: surrendering the fantasy I had, surrendering the wilfulness that says "I want to do this now" (but still have some fantasy relationship), surrendering joyfully to her.
- Mindfulness is another spiritual practice I'm bad at. Really saying "As you wish" when I'm doing things because she asked or suggested. And saying "My pleasure" rather than you're welcome when she thanks me for what I've done - as she does. Both of those she said were useful to her because they give her a sense of where my head's at.
- About how much I appreciate being made to do the hard things - how fulfilling it is to be dead tired after our talk and have her say, "You can rub my feet now" - which I'll do until she says stop.
Net net - we agreed to continue trying this. I say that rather than "try this again" because it is a continuous process; we'll get it righter and less right as time goes on. But as long as she's egaged in it with me, we are doing to together and it is our process.