Dating : It was never about the coffee.

h2>Dating : It was never about the coffee.

Cat GR

I don’t know what it is about sipping a cup of coffee in the morning that makes it a grounding time of day for me. Is it the flush of warmth and the sensation of smooth? The way it cleanses the awakening palate, before a family breakfast, before a banana as I sprint out the door? Is it the simple success when I quickly eyeball the ratio of grounds to water and nail it, is it when the swirl of cream breaks the surface in perfect, circular symmetry? Or is it because it allows me a pause to collect the remains of myself from the day before, to acclimate and prioritize the challenges ahead of me that day, that week? This life?

Sometimes we simply ask, would you like to go talk about this over a cup of coffee? To connect. To discover, to learn.

Does everyone have something like that in their lives, a ritual seemingly insignificant but part of what makes you YOU?

(And it doesn’t have to be coffee for you. It can be anything that gives you a delight, helps you slow down and really feel where you are right then. It could be a hike, yoga, thrashing to death metal in the car, listening to nature, the stretches in bed reaching for the snooze button one…more…time. It can be the pause you take before you enter your home and shake off your day, so you can enter without baggage. It can be resting against your lover’s shoulder in the haze of dawn. It could even be tea, (ha!) but what matters is the enjoyment and the intent you give this part of your day.)

When you find someone whom you can share this time or craft or skill with, it is magical.


My husband of 9 years doesn’t consume coffee, or tea. Nor onions. Nor the content of my words.

Right now he only consumes media on a screen and self-directed vitriol.

We cannot find a common ground.

I am the enemy.


Every day for as long as my husband can remember, his stepfather has gently called upstairs at the first stirring, seeing if his wife is awake, and he brings her a cup of tea to start her day. When I first heard my husband tell this story, I thought out loud, “oh, what an incredibly sweet thing to do for her!” And another time, after some expressions of frustration or maybe an argument, he demanded of me “What is it, what THING can I do for you to show you I care?” And I told him, “Even though you’re not a coffee drinker, I’d love for you to learn to make me a cup of coffee.” I didn’t ask for him to buy anything demonstrative out of obligation or to do something against his nature or that would compromise him or overwhelm him with need. I didn’t even ask for the cup of coffee itself, just… to learn. Something just for me. Something that didn’t immediately benefit him.

I showed him how once. I would have shown him again, if he had asked me to. He treated the coffee press like a foreign object, perhaps a used surgical item, with a look of confusion and slight discomfort. I briefly explained the reason for the type of grind, the stir, the brewing time, but I didn’t expect him to care about all that, it was more my way of sharing the process. I showed him the lovely latte color of my ideal cup. People are visual, right? You don’t measure cream with teaspoons, but by observing that perfect shade develop. Attention to detail. I didn’t look to see if he was watching. After this I probably would have been delighted to have an instant coffee presented to me, the directions read haphazardly from the back of the jar. Most days my used coffee press is relegated to the side of the sink, untouched after the rest of the dishes are done by him every few nights. As if it is not worth cleaning, acknowledging, caring for. I should just fall on my knees with gratitude that anything was done at all.

Marriage requires sacrifice, but sometimes the sacrifices demanded are too much to bear or greatly off balance. Some marriages don’t survive caring for an ill family member, the loss of a child, infidelity, addiction. For him, doing the one thing I asked him to do to show he cared, simple as it was, was not important. It was too much of a sacrifice. Making a cup of coffee, even once, was more than he could handle.

It is nearly 14 years later, and I’ve never received that cup of coffee.

Not even a surprise Starbucks.

That says something powerful about what I mean to him: he’s not even slightly interested in what makes me happy. He won’t hear me. Demonstrating a kindness is not a priority, instead it seems as if it is a smug refusal to offer what I’d like. He would likely do more for a stranger. Extrapolate that one simple request to the rest of our marriage: I’d like him to learn fidelity, self-awareness, assumption of emotional labor of running a family, integrity, and what it really means to be honest with one’s self. I’d like him to learn that regretting our family because it takes hard work is the greatest disappointment the other partner can bear. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that people used to take great pride in providing for their family rather than resenting their human needs. I’m blamed for impeding his progress in life, for demanding too much, for having even the most minimal standards.

Loving me, truly loving me, is too much of a sacrifice.

I will continue, every day, to make my own coffee.

Read also  Dating : Day 224/365: Queen’s Gutter

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