Jess and I were sitting in bed when she first asked, "What are you thinking?" It seemed like a simple request for information, so I gave a simple answer. "Nothing."
We repeated this dialogue over the next month—in the car, on a walk, even in the middle of a church service. Always the same unassuming inquiry: "What are you thinking?" Almost always the same cheerful response: "Nothing."
Imagine my surprise when Jess sat me down one night and—holding back tears—asked a new, bulkier question: "Are you attracted to someone else?"
I was stunned, then angry at what I considered to be an accusation. "What? No! Why would you ask that?"
"Because you never talk to me any more. You're always staring into space, thinking of something other than me." After a short pause, she accused: "Of someone other than me!"
We had ourselves a long night (not in the good way).
The next day, we made up with kisses and confessions, but we treated only the symptoms of our fight—the angry words and accusations. We didn't get to the root issues: her fear about my thought life, and my ignorance of the chance to reassure her. Consequently, Jess became self-conscious about asking "the question," and I figured the issue had run its course.
After a few months, however, the pressure of the unknown became too great. We were again sitting peacefully in bed when she tapped me on the arm and said, "What are you thinking?"1