Updated: Aug 5, 2022
The fire was crackling. The Pinot Noir was delightful. I was catching-up with an old friend. She poured her third glass and sighed. “Did you know that in fifteen years of marriage my husband has apologized…oh, maybe twice?”
“You’re joking?” I said. “We've been friends forever. How did I not know? I thought you guys were great!”
“Yup,” she shrugged. “Never wrong. In his mind there’s nothing to apologize for.”
She seemed too relaxed about it. “Really?” I said. “You believe that?”
She snapped, “Of course not! It's just easier this way. Keeps the peace. Who needs confrontation?”
“Sounds hard,” I said.
She went silent—I got the impression she’d never said it out loud before.
''So,” I probed, “what happens to all your stored-up resentment?”
She looked ashamed, but the wine was loosening her tongue. “What can I do? I don't have the energy to deal with him.”
“So instead of finding the energy, you hang on to the resentment. How much energy does that take?”
She stared. I wasn’t sure if she was going to burst into tears or throw something at me. One way or another, I’d touched a nerve.
I stuck my neck out a little farther. “You can let it go, you know. Make a few changes.”
“Changes?” she laughed bitterly. “He won't change!”
“Not him,you! It’s not your job to change him. You’re half of the relationship. What’s your part in him being always right? Maybe you can change that.”
She was still staring downward.
“Accepting the unacceptable is 'enabling'. I bet he has no idea how upset you really are.”
“I’ve told him a thousand times. He doesn't listen!” Now she was angry. “Why are you dragging this up anyway? He's a good man. We love each other. We’re OK. Next subject?”
I reached for the bottle wiped the neck, and topped up her glass, then mine. I put the bottle down, and chuckled. “Hey, you brought it up.”
She nodded her head up and down and side to side trying not to smile. “Okay, okay.”
“Looks like you can’t keep it in any longer. How does it feel sharing this with me?”
She looked perplexed. “Good and bad. I hate all this negativity, but I do feel better.” She took a sip. “I took it out on you. Sorry.''
“Apology accepted. I'm sorry you're going through this, but I’m glad you're not alone anymore.”
“Wow! Two apologies in five minutes and no bad feelings. It's scary, but you’re right—I'm ready for change. I can't keep this up much longer. It's ruining the way I feel about him, about myself. I don't want to end the marriage, but I don't want to enable him and I’m sick and tired of resenting him.”
“ I’ll bet he doesn’t even know he’s not listening. His dismissive attitude towards you is a defensive reaction to something that may not have anything to do with you. We all have our ‘buttons’. What are his? What are yours?"
"I never thought about it like that!” She looked teary.
“Take baby steps. You don't have to say anything, at least for now. Just pay attention to your feelings. What are your hopes and fears? What do you do with them? Explore your relationship.”
“I can do that,' she smiled. “Thanks.”
“We’ll talk again. Now, let's eat. I’m starved!"