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