The first time I saw my wife, Suzanna, she was hunched over a desk, painting. Immediately attracted to her and determined to make a riveting first impression, I was, as I remember it, at my most witty and charming. What I also recall, and this is etched distinctly in my memory, is that she never looked up. Her eyes remained locked and loyal to the painting she was bringing to life. I found the passion she had for the work she was creating both touching and inspirational.

I didn’t realize at the time that it would remain that way for the next forty years.

I say I married an artist, but that is not completely true. I married the woman I take long walks with, discuss movies and politics, have candlelight dinners (although we gave up the candles twenty years ago. I don’t like to squint while I’m eating), and swap shoulders to lean on when we’ve had a tough day.

And then, unexpectedly, something happens.

The only way I can put it is that Suzanna is kidnapped by the Muse. It happens very suddenly. Proving that Einstein was really onto something, both time and space bend to my wife’s art. And without any warning I go from a loving spouse and helpmate to an annoyance, akin to a house fly or a clogged sink.

Now, the first thing I should tell you about the Muse is that it doesn’t know I exist. I don’t think this is anything personal. I simply have no place in the world where it has taken my wife. It’s a different plateau of emotions and thought pulsating with ideas and color. And it’s an artist’s job to magically, mysteriously, harness all of that and somehow get it onto a canvas. (The Muse, from what I can tell from a distance, is the toughest, most unforgiving boss there is.)

And it is distance that I supply. While she is in conference with The Muse, I speak as little as possible, give the two of them a wide berth when I walk, and try to erase every distraction that could possibly dent the silent bubble where she has temporarily taken up residence.

And I love it, because when she returns to me she is more alive, more animated, more excited. The very act of creativity has given her a kick-start to life, and I, fortunately, am the grateful beneficiary.

As I said, The Muse may not know I exist, but I am thankful to it every day.