Update on love

I owe you an apology.

I’ve been avoiding you. More accurately, I’ve been avoiding telling you what’s going on in my life. That is, apart from inconsequential trivia like why it is that we change our cars more often than we change our toothbrushes.

And it’s odd that I’ve been reticent, because things are going very well.

Maybe that’s the reason. I have grasped the underlying truth that news is more interesting when it’s bad. Ask any newspaper. Ask Dr Patel.

But it’s time you knew the awful, boring truth…

Things are great!

Things? I hear you ask. What exactly do you mean by “things”? What exactly do you mean by “great”?

I mean my domestic affairs; I mean our marital harmony; I mean relationships with my wife; I mean, dammit – love.

It’s amazing how hard it is to say the word when we really mean it. We can say it in songs, we bandy it around in awful American sitcoms, and we use it about our favourite food, colours, clothes and couches. But when we want to use it in its fullest sense we have to prise our lips open with a tyre lever.

I think it’s a bloke thing.

Well – I love my wife and she loves me and things are great. There!

Regular readers of this column (if there are any) will be aware that I have occasionally alluded to the possibility that one of us would be dead the following morning. And not from natural causes. All that’s changed.

We weren’t speaking this morning when I left for work, but that’s a different matter entirely. We will be.

We’ve come a long way. If we look back down the road we’ve travelled there’s an awful lot of smashed crockery, but (we’ve discovered) nothing we can’t replace.

There were times when I thought we wouldn’t make it as a couple. There were even times when I thought I wouldn’t make it as a single either!

The trouble with breaking points is that you only know where they are — were — when you’re plummeting down the cliff face, looking up, and the frayed end of the rope is a rapidly diminishing dot in your eeeeeeeeeeye.­

You only know where the line is when you’re the wrong side of it, looking back. It’s not somewhere either of us wants to go. We know that now.

Tonight when I get home, I shall slide my arms round my wife’s waist and I shall kiss her.

She’ll say: “Why didn’t you do that this morning?”

I’ll say: “Because you looked so angry and unapproachable.”

She’ll say: “No! That’s you! You’re the one who looked angry and unapproachable. I was just trying not to cry.”

And I’ll say: “I wasn’t angry and unapproachable. I was frightened. I thought I’d lost you again.”

And it’s about then that you realise that it’s impossible to know what’s going on inside someone else’s head. No matter how close they are; no matter how long you’ve been together.

Half the time that’s probably the reason marriages break.

The other half, of course, it’s probably the reason they don’t.