My husband Christopher was once a financial planner. Even though he couldn't balance our budget, his clients trusted him implicitly and he made them feel secure. In exchange they paid him very well. We had a nice life then, except for the occasional blip on the radar screen of our relationship - nothing that couldn't be solved with a few soft words or a trip to the bedroom. Usually little tiffs about money. My yoga studio was just starting to make a profit, and I had recently decorated it in a lovely minimalist way, in neutral tones with simple prints and accents like straw-coloured silk cushions and clay flowerpots. At last, I was in control of my working life and poured my heart and soul into making it succeed.
When we first met, I fell hard for Christopher right away, although I wouldn't call it love. I'd never been with a man who was prettier than I was, but after a while I got used to it, and it didn't bother me so much. I was recovering from a broken heart and needed something to help me move on. If it wasn't love, it was good enough, and when he asked me to marry him I jumped at the chance, knowing that it might be my last.
Things started out so well. I was working steadily and Christopher was patiently climbing up the ladder in his department. Then, without any warning, one overcast winter afternoon in year five, he just upped and left his desk in the gray cubicle at the bank, handed in his resignation, and came home and told me he wanted to start an interior design business.
He has always loved mixing and matching, and has a real eye for colour, texture, and shape, but the idea of turning a hobby into a business wasn't something we had ever discussed. I thought the stress of his job was becoming too much and perhaps he would take a few months off over the spring and summer to relax, do a project or two, and get the idea out of his system. I didn't believe he could be serious. But once he had a few clients, (thanks to my sister who has a lot of rich friends), he began to draw up plans, ordering catalogues and scouting vintage furniture shops, turning our empty workshop into a kind of makeshift studio with all of his sketches pinned to the wall. After spending a lot of time and money on all of this preparation, and really doing quite a nice job of it, he called each client in turn and apologized, saying he wasn't well and wouldn't be able to design their living spaces after all. Then he went to bed.
He's been home now for almost a year. In the beginning, he just slept for most of the day, then got up but stayed in his pyjamas, watching Oprah and whatever came on afterwards, didn't even shower or shave most of the time. He didn't and doesn't want to have sex with me anymore either. Our sex life was the best thing about our relationship. And now he has changed his mind again and has decided to take a course in jewellery design. I'm trying to support the idea, because I'm happy that anything interests him at all, but I have to say this life I have with him at the moment feels a bit odd and sometimes (lots of times) unfair. For one thing, I've had to close my studio location downtown and start running my classes out of the house. Also, with Christopher out of work, and for who knows how long, I have to pay for everything myself. There is just no other cash coming in.
Yoga clients coming to the house isn't so bad. I've got an area for them in the workshop, now that it's heated. And there's quite a lot of space available there. Yes, the new studio is working out, but still, it's not always easy to get Christopher and the trail of mess he leaves wherever he goes out of sight. At least he's getting dressed these days, so it's not as though I have to hide him, the way I did in the beginning.
Most afternoons I give him some money so he can go to the movies. Apparently he's seeing a lot of them. He never used to go by himself, but everything is different now. I try not to think about where he might be if he's not at the movies. My imagination just shuts down. What's the matter with seeing a movie by yourself, really? He's smoking now too and I have to pay for his cigarettes. I try to keep the incense burning when I know people are coming over, and that gets rid of most of it, but it's not something I like.
I wish we could talk about the smoking, and the money problem and why he is suddenly going to movies in the afternoon alone, sometimes two of them, but we can't. I wish I could ask him why he doesn't want to sleep with me. The one time I tried he started to cry, and even though he didn't say anything, I thought it was better to wait for him to come around by himself rather than push. Wouldn't you? At this very moment, Christopher is sitting at the kitchen table, trying to make a pair of earrings from some bits and pieces of old jewellery I've given him to practice on, and he seems so peaceful.
The important thing is that right now he needs my support. I know that. I can't think about myself. It would be selfish, wouldn't it? Later, when he's feeling better. More himself.