The pink plush velvet seats couldn’t appease the sound of the argument ensuing at the table beside us, but my ears couldn’t un-hear the tone that haunted. We were grabbing a fast dinner post movie and were keen to chat and hang out. As the conversation behind us got louder and louder, the awkwardness grew.
You see we were the only ones in the restaurant beside this couple. The pain reverberated around the room and my friend and I tried not to listen. The waitress held her eyes steady on the floor, trying to shrink the atmosphere looming but a long-held miscommunication was spewing out of their mouths, and we didn’t know what to do.
I know they were in a bubble of pain, but each sentence became fuel thrown on a log fire. I am pretty sure they were now separated and trying to rediscover how to move forward. I am pretty sure they have kids and were trying to talk through their way ahead. Every word a wall. Each topic with agenda.
I sat there desperately trying to eat my curry and stay focused on my friend and her conversation, but they broke me. My heart for their family and the pain following them with every spoon full of their food, each sip of champagne made me wonder about the beginning.
What happened that led them to this pink, Indian Palace on a Monday night in Autumn?
Where did the cracks appear and how did they go from wanting each other forever to hating even the sound of the other’s voice?
My husband and I celebrate eight years of marriage this week. It is not a huge milestone, but we both know the tension we walk, is staying interested in each other. Our love didn’t begin with outrageous statements or gifts. Our passion has never been explored online with extravagant gestures. We often smile with the simplicity of the life with which we live.
If I could offer any encouragement from eight years of walking alongside him, it would be looking for the micro-moments of intimacy, rather than the extravagant emotion fuelled displays of love.
Our culture creates a pressure cooker that shows us that love is a mixture of feelings and gift giving. Whereas I have learnt love is walking alongside and noticing one another, learning to express our thoughts, ideas and possibilities with care and courage.
Recently we bought a coffee machine. We saved for months to be able to upgrade after our machine broke. When we were engaged, we attended a barista course given to us from some of our closest friends. Ever since that day we spent learning the art of espresso, it has become a daily competition in our relationships of who makes a better coffee than who?
I sit on the counter, watching his espresso pouring and he snuggles in behind me to watch my milk frothing performance. It is a daily dance that brings intimacy into our mornings and a warm hug in those tired afternoons. He walks a coffee in on the mornings that I get out of bed and I extend an offer to make him one as he walks in from the garden.
These little moments maybe inconsequential to those who may look on and observe, but these are our micro dates that fill up the spaces, that life drains us of in between. Then it is those little smiles or texts full of laughter, light and love. Maybe the emoji’s that no one else understands the meaning of, or the daily call from his intense workplace at lunchtime every single day.
It’s the “I appreciate you” as he walks out the door at 5 am to begin again and the daily phone call at 7.15pm as he walks out the gate. It is the giggles behind the corridor as our four-year-old said the word “duck with an f” this morning, having no idea what she said.
These are the micro, inconsequential moments that no one will ever see and familiarity makes us forget. As I sat and tried not to listen to the couple in the corner, as their relationship ended on that rainy Monday, I remembered it is the micro that creates the macro, and our culture doesn’t teach us to look at the in-between moments.
Next time you see a flashy demonstration of love on Facebook or a new diamond ring, maybe it is a romantic holiday to a far off destinations or a photo shoot in front of a coloured wall. Maybe remember that there is nothing wrong with the big, but you have important everyday moments and intimacies that count just as much. If not more.
I am learning to love the little in my relationship and to allow the scaffold of micro dates to deepen our intimacy, our love and our in-between.