Seeing my wife happy, without me
There was a time many years ago when I decided to go to a Zen center. I was married to my wife, but we didn’t have any children, and Zen and meditation had become very important to me, more important than anything else, so doing this was important to me.
I ended up coming back from the Zen center early. I don’t remember the exact details, but I must have told my wife about this, because by the time I got back into town I new she would be at her brother’s house. I think I was supposed to pick her up so we could go out to dinner. Really, I don’t remember the exact circumstance, I only remember that I drove there.
When I got near the house I could see her and her brother and father. They were all outside, doing something in the yard. It struck me that they were laughing and having fun. In fact, this struck me so much that I pulled to the side of the road and just watched them for a little while. Some of this had to do with me coming back from the Zen center, where I was still paying a fair amount of attention to things.
But another part had to do with watching my wife, who was laughing and playing with her brother, and her father as well. I hadn’t seen my wife happy in quite a long time, so this really struck me. I wondered how unhappy she must have been with me that we no longer had times like this. Everything in our relationship seemed like it was about work, whether it was actual work, or things we had to do around the house, errands that had to be run, etc. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw my wife having fun like this. It must have easily been months, or years.
Eventually I pulled up to the house, and we did whatever we did after this. I don’t remember that part, I only remember watching them all from the side of the road, and thinking how unhappy she must be with me, with our life together.
From time to time I see other couples like this — a wife who is rather somber and stoic when her husband is around, and seems much happier, lighter, and more free when he isn’t around, and it reminds me of this. It also makes me wonder whether the couple knows these things consciously, or if they are only aware of it on an unconscious level.