“Don’t Touch Me!”

Today I am writing the first half of a marriage situation post. Liz and I have laughed about this issue every once in a while, but it still remains one of those little things that can act as the proverbial wrench (possibly a small wrench) within a couples’ marriage.

Every few months I am asked to sing a solo in church. As I search for a song to sing, I try to look for something that’s not too difficult and one that doesn’t have any syncopation (and before you start sputtering about either the pros or cons of syncopation—I only avoid it because my classically trained brain just can not “follow the rhythm.” So there. It’s a deficiency of sorts.) Normally, Liz acts as my piano accompanist. Now, I’m not the easiest person to accompany, mostly because my sense of rhythm is atrocious (as stated). This causes Liz all kinds of stress. You should see her during our practice sessions. Facial grimaces abound as I randomly add a beat here and lose a beat somewhere else. I feel for her, I really do.

Recently I sang the song “How Can I Keep From Singing,” and per my normal MO, I ended up singing a version of the song that was…well…different from the music Liz was playing from. (In my defense, I’ve sung three different versions of this song and there was no keeping this one in my head). Still, Liz gamely followed my rhythmic meandering  and amazingly made the accompaniment fit what I was singing! She did a great job…until the very last note of the song. For some cosmic reason—most likely because the end was finally, blessedly in sight—Liz played the last note totally and unmistakably wrong in front of a full Sunday morning auditorium. There was no covering the error up, no “resolving” the note, it was just plain and quite obviously wrong. As soon as the horrible and awkward moment passed, Liz stood up and when I met her at the platform steps to go back to our seats, I sympathetically placed a reassuring hand on her back as we walked. She immediately stiffened, her face became even more stony with an expression that clearly conveyed the message, “don’t. touch. me.”

Then there are those moments when she hears some frustrating news. Like when she has had a long, difficult week with the boys and after dinner on Friday I regrettably announce that I am needed at church the next day. That I can’t stay home and spend time with her like I’d planned. Her stony face appears again and she might get really quiet or she perhaps might break down and start crying a little. Should I try to give her a hug, or is this one of those “don’t touch me” moments?

And then there are those times when Liz is doing some serious crying while curled up on the other side of the couch. I want to do or say something to let her know that, even though we just fought, I do still love her.  Usually we’ve both said some sinful things during the argument. We both made mistakes and we both are emotionally beat up. However, I want to start the process of making things right and I’m pretty sure that she wants the same thing.  Should I give her hug after something like this or just back off and give her space?

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So men, any of you face similar situations? Does your wife ever come back to you later and say (growl?) things like, “why didn’t you just give me a hug?!” As if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Believe me, if I knew when to hug and when not to hug, I’d share the secret with you. But even after lots of discussions with Liz, my mind is still a little vague about the whole “when to touch, when not to touch” conundrum. Thus, in the next post (here!) Liz will give her evaluation of the situations and then together we’ll write out some ideas for solving this little mystery.

 

Because wouldn’t life be simpler if we could just figure this out?

 

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