Wednesday, 20 May 2009

When was the last time...

"When was the last time that you kissed Dad?"

It wasn't an accusation, just a question. Delivered in front of a couple of his mates in a context that I cannot even remember because I was stunned into confusion as to how to answer.

Fortunately, the conversation moved swiftly on to something else. But I was left with the memory.

The truth is that I can't remember. I would say that I kiss my children every day... whether they want me to or not! :)

But their father...?

I know that the last time we stood close to each other and embraced was around Christmas 2004. That was when, forced to face and respond to my concerns about our marriage, he told me that he wasn't sure he loved me any more either but that we should stay together because of the children. He made the effort to address my grievance when he hugged me then. And the morning after that, I instigated the cuddle as he went off to work. Of course, it all just petered out within two weeks and we were back to square one.

I know that in the beginning we did used to kiss during sex but it disappeared from the act around the time that the children were born and I cannot remember why, other than that, when we had relations in the missionary position, the size differential meant that I tended to end up with my head under his armpit, which is not really conducive to snogging but, mostly, our relationship had deteriorated to the point where he just penetrated me from the rear - whether I was awake or not.

But it was the casual peck of affectionate greeting in the morning or when he came in from work and I was in the kitchen preparing the dinner that I longed for most. To have a man come up behind me and put his arms around my waist as his lips caressed my neck is one of the most intimate of affectionate gestures and it had been absent for decades, unless it was me making the first move.

As is the custom, he kissed the cheeks of our friends and even work colleagues in greeting but never, voluntarily, mine.

I think I really noticed the problem when our children would have to make the move to kiss him if they wanted to express their love. The word 'Aspergers' started to flash in my head but, of course, he would never have admitted that there might be something wrong with him. And yet so many of the distinguishing factors do actually fit.

The confirmation that things were becoming obvious to the children too occurred a couple of years ago when my daughter commented that the reason I wanted to hug with her so often was 'because Dad doesn't hug you and you want someone taller than you to cuddle'.

In the aftermath of my son's question, I was left with a lingering sense of guilt. He hadn't asked when his father had last kissed me, which tends to suggest that he recognises something that is not innately natural for his father to do. I couldn't help but feel that, somehow, my son blamed me for not perpetuating this small intimacy with his father.

And I feared for the future.


Cate said...

Oh! You have touched on a fear of mine - that my kids will think men should not be affectionate and emotional because my husband is similar to yours. I over-compensate for it by kissing and cuddling my kids constantly but I am sure they must notice that my husband and I don't do it to each other very much.

I guess we can only hide so much from our children. They figure it out even when nothing gets said.

Cate xxx

Shelagh said...

It was also one of my fears when my marriage was going through the doldrums. Since we managed to kick-start things last autumn we now hear "Oh my God, that's gross, don't come in the kitchen, they're snogging again!" You just can't win!

Loving Annie said...

How do you properly address healthy intimacy and love when things have gone wrong... with your kids ? That
's a tough one, Cake. My empathy.

I remember with my ex bf when the kissing stopped during sex. It really is a sign that love is going or gone...

Wayward Wife said...

I'm in a non-kissing marriage as well. Never did it much, even in the beginning, and do it even more rarely now. It is a sign of issues in a marriage? I would think so! Though there might be people out there who are perfectly happy without it.... I'm just not one of them anymore.

Aspergers doesn't spring to mind with my H, but he thinks he has Avoidant Personality Disorder, which I am sure has a lot to do with his non-kissing ways.

Hopefully you can show your kids that affection IS important to relationships in the future.

southerngirl said...

Non-kissers unite (hey we are like the female version of the justice league!)

God I worry about the kids here and the obvious sterile mechanics we go through in demonstration of marital bliss.