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What the Silence Said

2020-12-23 | 🔗

When Laura and her husband divorced after two decades of marriage, their “little Colorado mountain town” could barely tell. It was quiet compared to the dramatic natural disasters that were afflicting the area — like flooding and wildfires. There were no raised voices, no feelings of fury.

So why did they split? In the lead-up to their divorce, Laura had a revelation about what good love — the kind that will “survive life” — is supposed to sound like.

Featured stories:

  • “No Sound, No Fury, No Marriage," by Laura Pritchett
  • “Silence Is Its Own Answer," by Jennifer Byrne

Laura's story was recorded by Audm. To hear more audio stories from publishers like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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wasn't to blame. It turned out to be an employee error at the Hawaii emergency management services that triggered a false North Korea. and missile alarm sent to those in the state, including my husband. He and his colleagues at the medical conference stop discussing Occupy Herpes and took shelter for thirty eight minutes they faced their own imminent debts. I wonder who recalled or texted during that time. It wasn't me after a while, I couldn't ignore what that silence told me. He didn't even feel compelled to say goodbye to me, so that was good bye. Thank you for that
I know in some ways. It was like that this false missile alert was like a stress test of relationship, so it was a false alarm or you know the missile, but it was real or not married yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing this and for reading it so beautifully. Absolutely. Thank you. So much bye, bye, okay, bye, now and fall in love? Love, love, love stronger than the the the his essay is no sound, no fury, no marriage. It was published in twenty. Sixteen, it was
by Laura Pritchett and is read by January Lavoy. Three years ago, my husband and I broke up after two decades of marriage. Our path since has been so gentle that we in the cause of confusion and gossip in our little Colorado mountain town, both of our car. Are often in the driveway meals are frequently eaten together and logistics. Make it easier for US adults, to switch houses rather than our children. Doing so. Neighbors, sometimes can't tell the difference from before the split and after.
I need to be assured when they run into me at the post office. Yes, a breakup has indeed occurred by now. My myra and has become a well rehearsed murmur. We like. each other and always have. We are conflict averse, quiet people, no one was at fault the relay. in my opinion at least, had just run its natural course. I remind them that breakups have a new paradigm. They don't have to be hostile and hate filled, they can be mindful, respectful humanity has evolved. Also, I tell them we're thinking about our children not only for the usual reasons of keeping them foremost in our minds during difficult times, but because
recent years they have already been traumatized by things beyond their control, evacuated for wildfires, cut off by historic flooding and exposed to loss and devastation. the neighbor's nod knowing all too well the various natural disasters our area has endured, those sirens and helicopters and news casts still seemed Blair loudly in our ears. Another reason for us go quietly about the dissolution of our marriage. My son, at these neighbours and wave as they get into them. Cars, I do not speak about the sting of all this. I don't tell them how I recently sank to my knees and laughed and half sorrow, half relief. Only because of this, my marriage had long ago turned into the cliche of Romanus and that it could
for such a change without any emotional upheaval was revealing. In fact, the silence set it all the words. I don't say to my neighbors. The words that get held on my tongue are. I wish you had heard a fight. I would Our voices had been loud enough to carry a cost. The valley he and I may have free speech, but we're not so good at Frank speech. Shakespeare had it right, my tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart, concealing it will break. I never spoke of the anger in my heart, the mounting resentments and hurts, and neither did he I or demanded attention or care, and neither did he and that's why we broke what hurts most is not the loss of the marriage
What hurts most is that our relationship had never evidently been the kind worth raising one's voice about But I'm getting louder now. I watch couples all the time movies and novels and in real life paying attention The way they have conflict, I lean for in restaurants. I sit, bench near the river, where two people are talking, my favorite overheard. Conversely, Actions include lines like really that's all you're going to say, or that's not enough for me or that just not so honey dialogue. Basically that pushes I want a hug such couples tell them to keep it up. The last time I tried to do that conversational push with my husband, I failed.
Ass, it was also the moment I decided to leave him. it was an ordinary day. The house was quiet and I was reading on the couch He was reading a magazine while standing in the kitchen. He always did that happen stand after a long day of sitting in meetings, and I only realized. It had been a decade since he and I had sat on the same couch at the same time. Perhaps we had sat together for a moment while one of us tied shoes or to discuss a calendar but to actually watch a movie talk, have sex fight, raise our voices, a roaring anger, flew into my and I wanted to push him with words. Why hadn't he.
I've learned to sit on the couch with me. Why hadn't? I ever asked him to the most important. Why hadn't we had a big damn fight about it. After therapy, we had made no progress in solving our differences in how we experienced or received love. We had identified them, or at least I had he disliked touching or snuggling I did he wanted to stay at home on evenings and weekends. I wanted to go out. He disliked the sensation. And of two bodies being in proximity. I did not all these differences expanded over the years as we became our true ourselves quiet. Sometimes I would open my mouth to say something about our growing distance. Probably he did too, but no.
My mind would run through the list of reasons to keep quiet. I would come across as unreasonable, nagging more needy. He was tired. The children were in the house. They should not he fighting on the couch that day, I watched him flip through the pages of his magazine. He glanced up, met my eyes and went back to reading. I let out a quiet, sigh. I watched my breath, expel the anger from my body. Let any fight I had left in me dissipate. I couldn't We see my exhaled stew of emotions, it looked like litter floating around drifting to the floor. I wasn't high, but I felt like it
the patterns in the sunlight suddenly struck me as the most painfully beautiful things I had ever seen. Silence sparkles swirling around making a decision. a few days later. I got the words out I was leaving, while our friendship It's sustained us for twenty years and we were both the better for it. I wanted more. I was sure we could manage the coming split with respect and dignity. I was sure we could guide our children through it with love and devotion. He sat on the couch with me, as I told him my voice shook with the words I was trying to say speaking my mind, felt awkward and new, but I got them out.
Did him and awaited a response? Are you sure he said I nodded? I waited. I was not sure I was waiting for his big reaction or mine. I was waiting to see this discussion would go. It went as always quietly reasonably without obvious anger or raised voices. It has been. Had ever since we are simply not capable of sound and fury I've decided. sometimes wonder if our inability to strike out is heartbreakingly rooted in our love for one another, because we did and do love each other and we both
been so injured by our violent and loud childhoods that we found refuge and joy in the quiet, but that kind of love often doesn't survive life. And in the end our silence was less about respect or affection or love than it was about cowardice. He and I were equal partners in that Turning inward, instead of speaking out, so we have gently floated on. The children stay put in the same house and he and I M a cobbler, rotate back and forth. The mountains have green Again, there hasn't been a major fire in years. My current, boyfriend, loves banter. He chats all the time. about ideas, movies, songs, his day, bad drivers and the fact that he loves the look of horses standing in a field
he grows annoyed when I don't push him back with words or ideas. That's what conversation is for. He argues. I laugh and engage. We also have big complicated I am no longer interested in silence. I sometimes laugh myself when I hear someone say I'm a drama, free gal what she means, and I appreciate peaceable ways, but something about that. Freeze also breaks my heart, my ex, and I still take walks to catch up on things to discuss logistical or parental matters on these walks. Sometimes start a conversation of substance just to see. If we can do it better, we can't we retreat swiftly to talk of holidays and events and plans
thanksgiving our daughter's violin concert, the meeting on these walks, the birds will sometimes stop us to ask cautious questions. Our demeanor, is so calm and quiet. They must feel a need to have us once again confirm our split. They will Congratulate us on a separation so well done I will not in silence.
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who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words. Then I always get nervous. I sent it to my parents or something me and my dad, we liked the first together and I wish her out. I it J, J, C K, P, o t It's a Jaguar. Yeah right. I'm same as earth's sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at N Y Times dot com, slash games, hi, Laura hello How are you greetings
in Colorado. I'm great here, thank you for taking this piece back in the day who's my pleasure and it's still a piece that fascinates me honestly. So how many years is. Has it been since you divorced that essay came out and twenty sixteen got divorced in two thousand and thirteen? I imagine this was such a tumultuous time when you were sort of first The decision to leave your marriage can you take us through that period of how you went about dating. Can you just describe that time in your life. Well, right after your divorce, I was not looking to get into a long term relationship, but when I was ready to start dating I you know, put those fields out there, but the world out there and do you know I've been on
One and done date, you think know which I have to say we're good for me, because I got married when I was twenty two and I didn't date. Much this year is, and I think you learn something by Dayton. You learn what's important and what's nine different road signs of living and communicating. That was fun, but none of it was meant to be long term and then what happened with the first aid with the person who's? Who stuck? I had a play that was produced in four collins, Coloradus other his our very first date was him coming to see my play. He was so delighted to be there and so happy and a live. as was I, and we did
Well, we talked in the parking lot for a long time until he got so cold that we essentially hiring is, but the next day we went on I, when he leaned over to kiss me. When was the first moment when there was a fight, Or a sense of like what have I got myself into? Did that happen? Was there that moment? I just remember you know getting upset at something he would say and just turn to turn around and walk out. Room and then having him touch my shoulder, or am I touching myself and saying no turn back around and heart throw closing.
Flashing feeling my face really hot. That's a hard thing to sit with, I'm not good at that, and when did you feel like you had really achieved a new level of sort of accomplishment in in a relationship that had given take and combative, no send that that didn't spell the end of the relay. ship. It was just part of the relationship. My guess is that will be an ongoing realisation debate. There in little moments throughout, but I feel that now we spend a lot more time together we sit on that couch. I think in my piece I mentioned how my ex and I had literally never sat on together, but we sit on this new couch every day together and snuggle, and talk and read and joke that's what relationship is
You fear your role in that ever be sort of falling back into habits of the past, I'm not speaking up about needs and that sort of thing I think I'm so aware of my need to communicate that I can't imagine lapsing into a door ness. I do sometimes fear What do you think is true about any relationships which is that they were not intended to last forever? They just weren't, and I I have to say I see a lot of people who are for a very long time, and you know you feel obligated. I congratulate them on their thirty fifth anniversary or something, but they don't seem that happy to me or they don't report that Happy to me- and so I do really question this institution of marriage and our cultural to really celebrate longevity instead of intensity.
I that's something that will always be, on my mind, So thank you. Laura is really get to talk to you care Modern love is produced by HANS Buteux and Kelly, Prime and added. by Sarah Sarazen and Wendy Door, music by Dan Powell. This week's tiny love story was written and read by Jennifer Byrne. Our essay was written by Laura Pritchett and read by January the special thanks to Julia Simon nor Color, Mickey Mitchell, Blondie, Laura Kim Bonnie worth highlighting honest, romanian, SAM Dolnick and Corey Seager, and also to and wider and Kelly Rogers at autumn the eggs.
Producer for New York Times. Audio is LISA Tobin. This is our final. episode for the season. back in twenty twenty one after a break, I'm merely, Dan Jones by by the.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-15.