Tuesday, September 20, 2016

You Never Know

I bumped into one of my neighbors I hadn’t seen for a while when I was in the restaurant in Chinamart the other day. We sat down at a table and chewed the fat a spell, caught up on some things and swapped a couple jokes. At one point, we mentioned that our wives were as likely to bump into one another as they shopped as we had been while beating in time at the restaurant. He said something that I now forget, but I remember making the wisecrack that wives are always “right.” Suddenly, his face took on a serious, in fact a sad look about it. I sort of wondered what nerve I’d struck.

He said quietly, “You know, I don’t know how true that may be for other couples, but it’s sure true in my marriage. I’ve been told that my wife and I both have a reputation for being a little difficult, but in going on 40 years of marriage, my wife has never started an argument.” I almost smiled, thinking he was going to make a wisecrack, but something told me not to do it.

“According to her,” he went on, “every argument we’ve ever had has been MY fault. Now, I don’t buy that, but that’s what she says, and I think she really believes it. In the beginning, when I realized that I was in the wrong, I’d apologize, but you know, she never once accepted one of those apologies. And of course, since she’s never wrong, she never once made one to me. In fact, I eventually quit apologizing, not because I’m too proud, but because she somehow figured that she then had the right to try brow-beating me all over again. Sometimes, I just gritted my teeth and bore it, but sometimes it was just too aggravating and the fuss would be on again. It ended up being simpler to just not apologize in the first place.

“Of course that means I get the silent treatment. Usually it’s only for an hour or two, but it went one for three days once. It was kinda peaceful, but it likes to break my heart to be on the outs with her. She really IS a good woman at heart, and I still love her, though I don’t think she’s ever believed that. I used to tell her every day, but she just acted like I was lying to her.

“There are times when I think down deep she realizes that she’s been unfair. If it was a really minor squabble, she’ll eventually just act like nothing has happened and go on. There are other times when she’ll fix one of my favorite meals, or bring me some unexpected snack at my desk. I guess it’s her way of trying to make amends without having to admit that she was wrong. You know, though, I’d trade all those years of fine meals and treats for just one time that she said simply, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

“It’s not that I want to feel that I’ve finally won an argument, it’s just that I wish she had enough respect for me, and enough confidence in herself to do it. I think maybe it all goes back to the rough treatment she got as a kid, and she’s trying to avoid blame by “being perfect.” It seems to me that would be an awful burden to bear. I suspect a lot of guys would just stay angry at her, but I can’t do that. I do feel sorry for her, though, because I think she puts herself through a lot of unnecessary misery”

He sat silent for a second, then smiled and changed the subject. We chatted a few more minutes and then went our separate ways, looking for our wives. I’ve been thinking about the conversation ever since, though. It just kind of makes me sad for the both of them. © 2016


Kathy Felsted Usher said...

That is sad!

Chickenmom said...

It's sad that after all the years they've spent together, he can't tell her what her told you.

deborah harvey said...

hey, gg,
hope all is well with you.
i am like your neighbor's wife.
beaten mercilessly with a belt . three sets of stripes from my knees to my shoulders. old ones purple and green, middle ones black and blue, and new ones filled with blood blisters.
he'd be in jail for that today.
mother let him.
maybe she wanted it to happen.
there is always one who is the scapegoat.
your neighbor's wife is just protecting herself.
we are like hedgehogs all curled up to protect the soft parts abut all prickles on the outside.
if you are constantly told that you are worthless, low down and no good, ugly, that no decent man will marry you, you know that whoever marries you has no good judgement.
you also know that you are worthless so no one could love you and so your husband is a liar if he says he does.
as the twig is bent so grows the tree.
my husband has suffered, God bless him!
but i am never wrong, or at least not to admit it!
i am trying to be better, but i am also mean like daddy. it is difficult.
that is all i can say.
you can erase this if you want, not sure i want anyone else to see it.
if you see your neighbor again just reassure him.
by the way the treats are just thoughtfulness not apology, although there may sometimes be an element of apology there.
i see something my husband might like and i get it just as a surprise. because i know he'll like it.
we do love our husbands, it is just that it is a bit twisted because the tree has grown up a bit twisted.

Sixbears said...

I count my blessings.

Gorges Smythe said...

It IS, Kathy.

I hadn't thought of that, Cm, but you're right. Maybe he just figures that nothing would change and it would just cause the mother of all fights.

Well, dh, you certainly figured that one out. Sorry about you're childhood, people never get over that kind of mistreatment, as you know. It might not surprise you to know that I was speaking to Annie Weber's husband (NOT their real name, of course).

And so you should, Sixbears. You are blessed.

Lady Locust said...

I second this comment.

deborah harvey said...

a bit surprised it is mr. weber as her tales of life expose him as a good husband. she obviously loves him. God bless him for holding on.

Gorges Smythe said...

That was her first husband who died young of cancer, dh. Her current husband has been married to her 30-some years now.