I was married to a man for nineteen years who was uncomfortable with his emotions. I knew he loved me and our two daughters, but he was unable to express his feelings of adoration and affection. While my daughters received lots of pats on the back, I got kisses on my forehead. I love yous were said in monotones.
We continued to work on our marriage in couples therapy. One therapist in particular said, “Your husband doesn’t feel passionate about anything. So if he lacks passion for his job and sports and the theater, for example, it makes perfect sense that he’s not going to be passionate about you.”
I thought about these words and, although this revelation didn’t make me feel especially good, the explanation satisfied me in some strange way. Until this one night at the sushi bar when Shaquille O’Neal made a difficult shot, and my husband stood up and began to cheer. Amy, our seventeen-year-old daughter, and I exchanged disconcerted looks. We continued to stare at him with disbelief until she finally turned to me and said, “If dad showed that much emotion for you, you would want to make love with him. And if he showed me that much attention, I could love him.”
I felt so terribly sad for us both.
There was silence in the car on our way home, but as soon as we walked in the door, I said, “I can’t do this any more.” He questioned, “What? You can’t do what?” And I said, “The Lakers. I watched you get excited. I know it’s in you. It’s just not there for us. For Amy, Olivia, and for me.”
On a summer night in the year 2000, the Lakers would build a seven-point lead, and the Indiana Pacers fought back to tie the score at 103. After a timeout, the Lakers scored six unanswered points to regain control. The Pacers made one final effort, but it fell short, and the Lakers clinched their first championship in twelve years. Shaquille O’Neal was awarded the finals most valuable player.
And on that same hot summer night in the year 2000, I told my husband our marriage was over.