I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened. Perhaps, it happened gradually. All I know is that one day, Dick and I were having mature, langorous, intelligent conversations with each other, and then the next day we weren’t.

We’ve all been taught that when couples stop talking, it’s a bad sign. Surely your relationship must be heading into Dr. Phil territory if you’re giving each other the silent treatment. Relationship silence brings to mind all those episodes where the husband tries to pin his philandering ways on his wife being frigid until Dr. Phil makes the weasel and his wife admit that their marriage was really lacking something much trickier – intimacy.

While Dr. Phil may or may not be in our future, it seems to me that the silence between Dick and me isn’t a non-expression of underlying hostilities, as much as it is escapism. Dick and I are on intimacy overload. We spend every waking moment in a constant state of heightened awareness of each other – communicating plans, strategizing, and organizing. You know why I think we’ve stopped talking? Two reasons – 1) Adam and 2) Tabitha.

From the moment our little offspring awaken, to the moment they finally surrender to sleep, they talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Oh – and then there’s the talking. It’s a heckuva lot of talking. A ton of talking. It’s non-stop talking. It’s questions nested within questions kind of talking. Urgently shared observations on minutae such as the teeny-tiny, dessicated, dead bug on the window screen of their bedroom sort of talking. Even worse, it’s our own words being parroted back to us in a simultaneously gratifying and annoying display of attentiveness kind of talking.

I confess, there are days when I reach my talking limit at, like, 3 p.m. and for the next 5 hours, it’s all I can do to not scream at them, “Shut up, shut up, shut-the-f#$% up!!!” I’ve never actually screamed that at anyone – leave alone my family – but oh, the temptation is so there.

Silly woman that I am, I still ocassionally forget that we’re parents now and have no right to free speech. I find myself foolishly beginning a conversation with my husband, only to come face to face with the harsh reality of constant interruptions from chattering children. After a half-dozen failed attempts and false starts, I’m forced to surrender to the verbal tsunami saying wistfully to Dick, “Never mind, dear. I’ll tell you when the children are in college…”

Maybe I should be more concerned about our new silent togetherness. If I bought into the female stereotypes, I would believe that it’s against my nature to value the absence of conversation in a relationship. Aren’t women supposed to be the talkers? Maybe so. Someday I’ll have to throw out that topic to Dick and see what he has to say. But, right now, I’m enjoying the fabulous sound of the dishwasher humming and the plasticky tap-tap-tapping sounds of my fingers brushing accross the keyboard and my brain, exhausted from another day spent fighting off the urge to slap duct tape over the mouths of my own children, is finally saying, “Shut the f@#$ up and go to bed.” Good advice, indeed.

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