Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Wonderland: The British in Bed

Chris and Jessica, married for 27 years... In a tiny pine bed overloaded with dogs, cats and old resentments, Chris lamented how his wife goes up to the loft every night with a bag of glass beads to make jewellery.

After a logjam of heated accusations, Chris finally asked her why she couldn't sit next to him and do it 'on a tray'.

'I miss you,' he said, simply.

'Why didn't you tell me?' she asked, looking amazed.

'I thought you knew.'

'Oh,' she said, collapsing onto her pillow as if she'd been falling out of an exploding plane for a long time, and finally landed.

Caitlin Moran on TV, The Times, Saturday 17 October 2009 reviewing 'Wonderland: The British in Bed'

I watched this episode of the Wonderland strand on BBC IPlayer after reading this review.

It was quite fascinating. Three or four couples of varying ages and stages in their relationship. Couples who had been together for many years and some who were quite new to the relationship. And there were just so many variants in the ways that it is possible to love a spouse.

But it was Chris and Jessica who stood out. She had put on weight after problems in childbirth. She felt old and fat and needed to have his love physically demonstrated but when he didn't, she replaced it with external activities. The sudden discovery that he loved her desperately but just didn't know how or was unable to show/tell her was quite shocking. Not just to her but to this viewer as well.

I can remember that my Husband and I used to watch television together until he discovered the joys of a musical instrument. He went through an extremely irritating phase of strumming a guitar whilst I was trying to concentrate on a programme. Being me, I never expressed that but I guess my face must have shown it because he eventually got the hint and retired to another room to practise.

When I began to feel more and more isolated from him, I focussed more and more on my hobby and then I discovered the internet. It wasn't long before I had replaced his lack of attention with the conversation of strangers on sites where my hobby was being discussed.

Looking back, I think he was probably a Chris. Unable to share his feelings for me, he wanted to be in the same room but he also wanted to indulge his own hobby at the same time, which meant that it was just impossible for us both to enjoy what we were doing.

Once the crack began to show, his behaviour over the children just drove a wedge between us until the chasm was unbridgeable.

Let's hope the programme has been a wake-up call for Chris and Jessica and they can move forward together from here.


Polar said...

Again you have Amazing insight! Ahe has always been an early riser, which means early to bed...When I attempt to go to bed at the same time, unless exhausted, I will lay there and flop around. In turn that disturbs her...so up I go, so she can sleep.
That is just one of our cracks...

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtful. We meet and have a good time. We marry and thrill in the passion and excitement of building a household and, one hopes, a life together. We launch careers. We have children. Time disappears. We are busy. Many lose sight of each other. And then many look up, in their mid and late 30's and early 40's, and wonder where they are. Is this the same person I fell in love with and married? Where am I heading? These feelings are reflected in many blogs.

Anonymous said...

This is so good, and so simple, as many good things are. Just say the words and sometimes that's all it takes.

hoodie said...

Well that is just plain old-fashioned heartbreaking, isn't it?

Both stories (yours and theirs).

Wish the BBC wasn't so stingy w/ the iPlayer in the US now...

Helga Hansen said...

Six years ago Mr H was glued to his computer all hours of the day and night, while I sat alone in the living room, watching telly. He'd still be there when I did the laundry. And the ironing. And the cooking. And the cleaning. And the gardening. And the parenting. When I was ready to go to bed, he was still there, tapping away...

One day I decided to broaden my horizons, and I signed up for a year's course on Open University. My course required me to access tutors online, as well as joining forums to discuss the coursework. There was also a chatroom, for "classmates" to relax, and it was there that I "met" three other people and we got on like a house on fire!

Suddenly, I was the one glued to the computer, staying up late, chatting - and suddenly, now that the shoe was on the other foot, it wasn't acceptable to be online all hours of the day and night - according to Mr H.

Other things took place after this time, but once, in a heated row, Mr H shouted that he wished I'd never started that OU course. Seems he hadn't been comfortable with the cracks that developed in our foundation, but he didn't realise that he had been hammering away for years, and my actions had just been the icing on the cracked cake!

Joanna Cake said...

Polar - I think it helps to be able to recognise them as cracks tho, doesnt it?

Ben - As you say, it seems to be all too common. If only we could continue to communicate in the way we did when we first met :(

Mr W - Yup :)

Hoodie - Can you not get iplayer over there then?

Helga - I am trying to take responsibility for things that I did wrong. It's the only way to try to come to terms with what has happened. Unfortunately, as with all things within a partnership, it takes two and if others are unwilling to accept any responsibility, then there really is a problem :( Thanks for sharing x

nitebyrd said...

Fascinating! This is definitely what happens to people who cannot and/or will not communicate. I know.

Passion said...

Isn't this the eternal cycle? The 'rut' we all worry about but don't see until it becomes a ditch... or grave for our relationships. Work hard people and always look ahead. (like I didn't) LOL

Jackie Adshead said...

Yep, its the lack of communication that causes the problems. Most of us don't want confrontaion so we ignore it, and then it just gets worse! Whereas a gentle chat at the beginning would have proably solved it. But do we learn? I hope so!

Anonymous said...

It is very sad when relationships get to where they are taken for granted, and the partners become blase about togetherness and closeness and intimacy. It is also sad when they allow other things to fill the emptiness that was once occupied by the partner. Often couples like this drift so far apart they cannot reconnect. I would wish that all in this ship could or would find the catalyst that breaks the cycle and allows them to see what they are in danger of losing prior to actually losing it. Best wishes always.