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Friday, 23 August 2013

The ring

Sorry for the silence over the last ten days or so. I've been galavanting across the Cornish coast with the kids for the last week - minus Ethan who had to stay at home to work. Despite being a single parent for a week (why do kids always play up more when you're on your own with them?) and having very little sleep (Ava, Sam and Oliver took it in turns to share my bed) it's been so nice to step out of the humdrum and everyday hassles of life and soak up something different. And my, the beaches at Cornwall, when the sun is shining, are beautiful places to be.
I think it did Ethan and I good to have some time apart too. We needed a break from each other after two weeks of him being off work and hanging around at home. There's a reason why men are meant to go to work! The other reason it was good for us to have some time apart was because, just before I left for Cornwall, Ethan presented me with a ring.
Those who have been following my blog for a while may remember that, a few months ago, I lost my engagement ring at the hell that was an indoor Waterworld - complete with flumes, crowds, sweat (and that's hard in water), tattoos, noise, a floor covered in hair and a stressed (overloaded) Aspergers husband.
I never told Ethan about the ring but, of course, he noticed that I'd not been wearing it for weeks (how could I possibly think he wouldn't - he sees every minute detail). He didn't let on that he knew, just plonked this replacement engagement ring in front of me over a curry last Thursday night (yes - it was as romantic as it sounds!) I don't mean to sound ungrateful: I genuinely was touched that he'd thought about it (and mostly that he'd not given me a hard time for losing the ring in the first place). But, the whole experience kind of deflated me. First of all, he plonked the ring in front of me without saying anything and when I said 'What's this?' of all the things he could have said, he said, with eyebrows raised, 'Anything you want to tell me?' - a passion killer if ever there was one. I opened the box and the ring glimmered up at me. My immediate thought was that we couldn't afford it. Ethan has overspent on all sorts of unnecessary purchases in the last two years and promised me he wouldn't buy anything else. He's even been giving me a hard time lately about how much I'm spending on food to feed us all. And yet here we were with this completely unnecessary item that he had bought. My second thought was that I wasn't really very keen on the (slightly garish) ring. This was followed by a surge of disappointment that Ethan didn't know me better after 13 years of marriage. Perhaps the whole situation could have been resolved and I could have grown to love the ring had the answer to the next question been different. But when I uttered the word 'Why?', Ethan's reply was not 'because, although we've been through a really hard time lately, I'm still so glad I'm married to you and want to re-affirm that' (OK, maybe that's asking too much) but he didn't even say simply 'because I love you.' He said 'Because you're meant to have an engagement ring.'
That was pretty much the end of it really. Not in a bitter way; just a resolved, practical decision. Ethan felt I should be wearing an engagement ring because that's what you're meant to do if you're a married woman - that's the 'rules' - not as a sign of our unending love and devotion to each other. In a financially difficult time, that just wasn't reason enough. Perhaps 'because I love you,' would have been.
The next day, I had to pack to get ready for Cornwall. Ethan got home at 10am (having been up for work since 3.30am) and cheerfully declared that he was going to take the kids out without me for a few hours so that I could pack and do what I needed to do. That thoughtfulness and selflessness - all done under a banner of cheerfulness - meant so much more to me than any bit of metal, particularly considering how unnatural such thoughtfulness is to an Aspergers mind. My love language (www.5lovelanguages.com) is definitely acts of kindness. And I made sure I told him so and gave him a big hug and kiss: right before reminding him to take the ring back.

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