I had just left work Friday afternoon when I noticed clouds gathering to the west. The sun was about 20 minutes from sinking beneath the horizon, so I thought there might be a good sunset. I made a detour to the top of Shades Mountain and found a perfect spot from which to watch a glorious sunset.
Afterwards, I went straight to dinner. I looked through my photos and picked the one I liked best. As I sat there looking at a full-screen copy of the shot, I wanted to share it with someone. It wasn’t out of pride about my work. The desire came from excitement about the beauty of what I’d just experienced.
And there was nobody who I wanted to share with. That made me feel very much alone.
In that moment, I realized in a painful way how much I miss having a partner with whom to share the routine details of daily life. I miss having someone who wants to hear what happened in my day — and I miss listening to the mundane thoughts and experiences of a woman I love.
If you don’t love someone, listening to such things is a chore. If you do love someone, it’s a privilege.
I’ve listened to a lot of mundane things from women in my life in the past, but I’ve enjoyed the experience. What’s more, I realize that the more I love someone, the more I love listening to what she has to say — no matter how boring it might have been otherwise.
When the woman in my life was a teacher, I heard mundane details of life in a middle school. I learned about the ups and downs of specific children. I knew who was doing well. I knew who was struggling. I knew which cliques were squabbling. And I loved it all.
When the woman in my life was a Ph.D. student, I heard mundane details of university life and what was going on among the grad students. I knew which professor was openly Marxist and subtly pressuring students to conform to her views. I knew which grad students were failing. And I loved it.
When the woman in my life was selling cars at a huge car dealership, I heard crazy stories of insane salespeople and idiot managers. I heard about customers who paid way too much for cars, and I heard about which salespeople were having trouble meeting their sales goals. And I loved it all.
There was also the television news producer, the law student and the real estate agent. When each of these was important to me, the mundane and boring events of her life mattered. Her thoughts mattered. The most trivial of her daily experiences mattered to me.
When we think about having a healthy romantic relationship, we often think about stereotypical things. We think about having “date nights” together. We think of special romantic things one partner does for another. We think of the physical intimacy expressed through sex.
All of those are good things. They’re all important to the health of a long-term relationship. But one of the real underrated joys of a loving relationship is the pleasure of sharing the mundane parts of life. I think most people forget this.
When we get stuck in relationships with people who we no longer love — even if we once really loved the person — we can be frustrated and annoyed at what someone else wants to tell us. We can get to the point that we don’t want to tell this person what we’re thinking about or what happened to us. We can slowly shut down and then completely lose touch.
When the mundane things are wrong — or when we’re bored with what the other person has to say — the bigger things will slowly go wrong, too.
I miss having someone to share my life with. I miss having someone who wants to tell me what’s going on in her thoughts and feelings, too. A simple sunset photo tonight reminded me clearly of how much I miss all of that.