I’ve found that lately Amy’s second letter is more interesting than her first. Today she answered a woman, recently married, who is concerned about–or rather, feels left out of–her new husband’s morning habit of going down to the corner for a coffee and the paper. She has tried making coffee at home and subscribing to his favorite paper, but to no avail! He insists on making this trek each day. She is upset that he “doesn’t seem to know that he is married!”
I think this is my favorite line: I went with him once but all he does is read the paper! I’m puzzled and I don’t know if I should “change” him or just let him do what he’s always done.
What did she think he was doing? Meeting women? De-briefing with the CIA?
Amy suggests that since they’ve only been married a few months, they’ll each have some lifestyle changes to make, and that she should join him occasionally (bringing a book or a Sudoku) and otherwise meet up with him afterward. (They’re 67 and 72, each on a second marriage, btw–that seems important to note). Amy also recommended bringing it up and chatting about it during a “relaxed time.”
But the crux of her advice, which I agree with wholeheartedly, is here: Don’t mess with the man’s morning habit, however. For some people, reading the newspaper at a coffee shop is simply the only way to start the day, just as others jog or take leisurely showers.
I guess my question is….what did the writer do in the mornings before she was married to this man, and why can’t she continue to do that? He’s probably been doing this longer than he’s even known his new wife. And taking an hour or so to ingest some caffeine and world news might make him a more pleasant, social, and interesting person to be with each day.
If she does bring it up with him, I hope it’s along the lines of “I’m still adjusting to spending mornings on my own [is she, though? Again, what has she been doing all this time?], would you mind if I joined you at the coffeeshop occasionally?” as opposed to “I don’t understand why you feel the need to leave me each morning and spend precious moments that we could be spending together with the coffee and the paper. Now that you’re married you need to make some lifestyle changes–the advice columnist told me so.”
And I think if she wants to join him, asking is important. Even though he really shouldn’t tell her no, and even though if he did, she could still technically go, because it’s a free country and all that. As someone who really really values space and private time, I get resentful if/when others assume it’s OK to join me because more automatically=merrier. She should ask. He should say OK. But then she should respect that the trip is about coffee and the paper, and not try to make conversation.
If he weren’t coming home at night, or if he told her she could never ever come with him, I’d say there would be cause for concern. But an innocuous and relaxing morning routine that lets him wake up and face the world at his own pace isn’t something that should be axed in the first months of marriage. She may find that without his coffee and paper, her husband is incoherent and unpleasant. I know I am.
P.S. I hope she didn’t write to the paper on purpose hoping that her husband will recognize himself in this column and come rushing home….