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What the Silence Said

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station description For 16 years, the Modern Love column has given New York Times readers a glimpse int... read more
Modern Love
Duration: 21:01
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
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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 ByrneLaura's story was recorded by Audm. To hear more audio stories from publishers like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.
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all too well. The various natural disasters are area has endured. Those sirens and helicopters and newscasts still seem to Blair loudly in our ears. Another reason for us to go quietly about the dissolution of our marriage. E smile at these neighbors and wave as they get into their 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 in half sorrow, half relief on Lee. Because of this, my marriage had long ago turned into the cliche of roommate nous, and that it could suffer such a change without any emotional upheaval was revealing, in fact. But silence said 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 wish our voices had been loud enough to carry across 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 never 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 in movies and novels and in real life, paying attention to the way they have conflict. I lean over in restaurants. I sit on a bench near the river where two people are talking. My favorite overheard conversations include lines like Really, that's all you're going to say, or that's not enough for me or that's just not so honey dialogue. Basically, that pushes. I want to hug such couples. Tell them to keep it up. The last time I tried to do that conversational push with my husband, I failed, and thus 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, happy to stand after a long day of sitting in meetings, and I suddenly 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 toe actually watch a movie talk, have sex, fight, raise our voices. A roaring anger flew into my body, and I wanted to push him with words.
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