There you are. It’s just you and your spouse. The kids are in bed or with a sitter. The house is clean. The chores are done, and free time looms in front of you like test results you’re afraid to read. You look at your spouse. You wonder, “Did we ever have anything to talk about?” The silence scares you. It rattles that area of your brain where you store thoughts you wish never to contemplate: What happens if one of my kids gets cancer? What happens if I get sick while my kids are young? Are we headed for a divorce?
You flip on the television and pull out your phone. Oh, good, someone has posted a funny cat photo on Facebook!
Now, it’s 11 p.m.. Even though the two of you spent the whole night in the same room, you might as well have been in two different countries. That’s how connected you feel.
I know it does because so many of you tell me that you’ve run out of conversations to have with your spouse. So when Vialé Kiss Me Cards approached me about advertising on my site, they had my attention. Each month couples who subscribe to Kiss Me receive cards that are designed to spark conversations and deepen their relationship. For instance, here’s what one of their card sets looks like. It says: You, me, and a romantic dinner for two…here’s how the night would go…
I asked Kiss Me to send cards for me to exchange with my husband. I was very clear and upfront with Michael Vialé, company co-founder. I told him that my husband hates to write. Getting him to write a message inside a card would only slightly easier than teaching my beagle not to sniff another dog’s anal cavity.
Michael sent three months worth of cards, allowing me to pick the theme I thought my husband was most likely to respond to. It was this one, shown below. It says: Wow! How do you do it all? … I’m always amazed by how you…
That evening, as we all lounged in the living room with our various electronic devices, I said, “Look, there’s a guy who wants to advertise on my site, but I really need to try out his product so I can write about it. I need your help because it’s something that couples do together.”
“Okay, sure,” my husband said.
“Thanks so much for being so adaptable and helpful,” I said as I handed him a card.
I sat down and began writing all sorts of things on my card.
I’m always amazed by how you…
…Are man enough to wear my reading glasses…
…Go along with the silly things I make you do for my website…
I felt that warm, tingly sensation one feels when another human is staring them down like prey to be hunted, killed and grilled for dinner. “What?” I asked.
“This is why greeting cards at the store are already filled out, so people don’t have to write inside of them! They can just sign their names! What’s the point of having a greeting card that requires you to write something?” he complained.
“Is it that difficult to think of qualities about me that amaze you?” I asked.
He knew better than to argue.
“Dad,” our 9 year old gently suggested, “She’s really nice. You can write that.”
He did. Then he began to look as I must have looked decades ago when I arrived at the word problems that involve calculus section of the SATs.
“Dad,” our 9 year old said, “She’s pretty.”
He wrote that down. In the meantime, I kept jotting down qualities about my husband that amazed me:
…you are so careful about making sure I don’t accidentally eat foods that might kill me…
…you can ride your bike for four hours and not feel tired of it…
…you fix things…
…you cook amazing things on the grill….
…you have so much in common with our kid…
…you can recite multiplication tables so easily…
…you do kind things for people like making lasagna for your friends who just had a baby…
“I’ve got nine things. How many things do you have?”
“Dad,” the 9 year old said, “She likes animals.”
“Dad, she’s responsible.”
“Dad, she’s a good cook.”
There was a long silence during which I decided not to push things too far. It seemed even the 9 year old was now stumped. Maybe I didn’t posses as many amazing qualities as I’d thought.
“Okay, let’s exchange our cards,” I said.
The husband groaned when he read my description of him being kind. I knew he would. He doesn’t like other people to know how kind he is. He’d rather people see him as stoic. He’s the reverse of the Incredible Hulk, a super hero who does kind things in secret but who maintains a very different public persona.
I was pleased with the first item he’d written: I’m always amazed by how well you write your books.
“Oh, you wrote one that the kid didn’t tell you to write!” I exclaimed.
“And you changed one!” I lovingly sneered. Instead of writing, “You’re a good cook,” he’d put “I’m amazed by how well you think you can cook.” You see, my husband is a bit competitive when it comes to who does what more effectively inside a kitchen.
It occurred to me that this was probably not what Michael Vialé had envisioned for his cards. Yet it had still been a fun evening, my husband and I had grown a little closer, and I’ll treasure the memory of our son helping my husband cheat.
I walked to my desk and placed the filled out cards on it, and I thought, “These are keepers.”
Vialé Kiss Me Cards will give a one year subscription to one lucky reader who comments on this post with the answer to this question: What makes you want to kiss your spouse? Comment here with the answer by noon June 3. The winner will be chosen by random drawing. Remember: if you read the posts by email, don’t forget to click through to the blog to comment.