Do you want a sandwich?
Sometimes when you're traveling with another person - your boyfriend, your partner - something happens to one of you and the other one doesn't have obvious recourse.
It could be something silly like one of you is sad, not having fun, feeling sick, or stubbed a toe. Maybe you're coming down with a cold. You may not even know what's wrong. But things are happening and your partner, finding themselves the momentary problem solver in your dynamic duo of two, wants to help, to keep the momentum going. They know you're plucky, but they just want you to smile.
Usually I am the one with an affliction and Matt plays problem solver, but either way we'll get into a process something like this.
Me: Something's wrong.
Him: OK, what's wrong?
Me: Not sure… I don't know. [Insert vague symptoms or other sorts of nebulous thoughts about emotions and stuff.]
Some fraction of time passes in this stunning example of conversation while we work out more details. After a beat, if there's no clear solution like needing a bandaid or some Advil, he may ask me:
Ok, do you want to eat anything?
And I may say yes, well, mostly I say no. But it's the asking, the gesture of food, that diffuses the tension.
Of course, like in the case today of Matt having a fever, food doesn't even make sense when he's heating up and smoking out the ears. But me, playing problem solver after delivering the water and paracetamol, and having no idea what to do, found myself asking: Do you want a sandwich? Have a sandwich. Do you want one?