“Checking Off the Boxes”
It started when Margie and I were on a date. (And, yes… being on a date with Margie is VERY powerful!!! But that’s not the kind of power I’m talking about. ;)
We ran into some married friends of ours -- I’ll call them Shawn and Katy -- who are some of the nicest people in the world. We love this couple and really respect them.
Shawn gave me a big hug. He’s a big guy, so a big hug isn’t unusual... but this hug was big in a deeply emotional way. It shocked me.
It wasn’t the hug… it was the way he did it.
Fear, bordering on terror.
Sadness, bordering on depression.
Pain, bordering on anguish.
I looked into his face and sensed the same stuff… even though he was smiling at me.
We exchanged pleasantries and went our separate ways. But I said to Margie:
“Did you sense that something was wrong with Shawn and Katy? It was just… off. I don’t know.”
About a week later, we randomly ran into Katy’s mother.
“Have you guys talked to Shawn and Katy lately?” she asked us. There was worry and pain in her eyes.
There it was again. So much pain and sadness surrounding this couple. What was going on?
We decided it was time to have dinner with them and get to the bottom of things. Margie called Katy later that night and set up a time for us to go over.
We weren’t there for more than 10 minutes before Katy and Margie drove off to have a “girls talk”. With Shawn to myself, things got interesting real fast.
Shawn’s superficial smile crumbled as he admitted the truth.
“She is leaving me. Said she is done. Doesn’t want to have anything to do with the children, with me, with any of it.
“I can’t understand it,” he said between huge sobs. “I haven’t done anything different. For 15 years, I thought things were fine. And out of the blue she’s leaving. I love her so much. I can’t live without her. How can she leave?”
I was stunned.
No wonder there was so much pain in his eyes… so much sorrow in his hug the other day.
About an hour later, Margie and Katy got back. Then the four of us sat down…
“Katy,” I said, “Tell me what is going on. Shawn said he can’t think why you’re doing this. He’s doing what he’s always done.
“Yeah. He is doing what he’s always done,” she agreed.
“It’s just… well… it’s just that he’s not doing it the way he used to.
It all feels hollow and routine. He’s just going through the motions... checking off the boxes... but I don’t feel love anymore.
I can’t live like this. I’m done.”
My mind was racing.
Shawn was doing all the same things. Checking off the boxes. Doing the right stuff.
But not getting the results he should be getting in his marriage.
Katy went on:
“When we used to kiss, there was fire and passion in the kiss. Now it’s more like I’m kissing a wall.
I just don’t feel love from him anymore. And I need to feel that.”
Kissing a wall? Ouch! That’s about as opposite of fire and passion as you can get.