What would you do if your spouse talked and laughed about you behind your back? Or didn’t stick up for you when someone made an unkind remark about them? Or ran to save only him or herself without consideration for your safety when danger loomed?
Sadly, my marriage has encountered all of these situations.
Behind My Back
In our early years, back when we were still dating and not even living together, Wayne had some friends who could be rather lewd and obnoxious.
One day when we weren’t getting along very well (which happened more than I care to admit in those early days), I called Wayne (he was in college at the time) and found one of those L&O friends in his room.
When the L&O friend heard it was me on the line, he made a really ugly comment which referenced both the fight Wayne and I had had as well as an inside joke between him and Wayne about it.
Trouble was, we’d just had the fight and it should have been our business. Needless to say, finding out Wayne was both talking behind my back and making jokes with his friend about it escalated matters.
I Didn’t Stick Up for Him
Years later, I found myself at one of Wayne’s Christmas work parties. He’d been having a hard time with the political side of life on the job. Certain people who’d been making his life miserable were going to be at the party.
Before we arrived, I was put on notice, “Behave yourself, tonight. Don’t say or start anything.”
Since it’s rare for him to take me to work events and I didn’t want to mess up, I promised.
But not even half an hour later, one of the ring leaders who made Wayne’s life awful made a very derogatory comment about Wayne in front of me. He’d said it to a whole group of people, but he hadn’t realized who I was until someone leaned over and filled him in.
His face turned red, all eyes turned towards me, but I kept my mouth shut. I had made a promise and, even though it almost pained me to do it, I kept it.
Left Me Hanging
Twice now Wayne’s left me hanging to fend for myself. The first time was in the ocean when we were wading together and, goofing around, I bumped him with my leg.
Forever fearing he was going to be shark bait, he assumed it was a shark bump, pushed me away from him, and zoomed towards shore screeching. He didn’t slow down until he realized I wasn’t behind him and was laughing.
“What if that really had been a shark?” I teased when he rejoined me. “You just would have left me like that?”
“I would’ve sent help once I got to shore.”
This coming from a former lifeguard.
The second time he left me hanging was during Halloween Horror Nights. Wayne refused to be my big strong protector when the ghoulies in masks waving chainsaws chased after me. Literally, he shook me off and distanced himself from me.
Regrets…We’ve Had a Few
I regret that I never said anything to the guy who’d insulted Wayne in front of me. (And that I didn’t was actually a remarkable demonstration of will power on my part. I have a very sharp tongue and in most cases am not afraid to use it.)
But it meant a lot that Wayne had taken me to the party, so I bit my tongue. (Don’t misunderstand. Most times he finds excuses to bow out of work events anyway. It’s not like he goes and leaves me behind. It’s more a matter that I want to go, but he doesn’t.)
He says he regrets leaving me in the water, but as he puts it, “At least now you know how I’ll react.”
True. I’ve decided he suffers from the Constanza Syndrome. (Seinfeld reference to the episode where George is at a birthday party, something catches on fire, and he pushes the kids and the little old lady out of the way as he flees the room first.)
As for Halloween Horror Nights, he did apologize a year later. After he suffered mind problems due to extreme dehydration that whacked out his system for months. (It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that from his experience he learned how to be sympathetic to what I’d felt mind-wise.)
Reconciling the Flaws
Kind of like what I talked about with priorities the other day, we accept each other.
I may not be happy that Wayne suffers from Constanza Syndrome. He doesn’t much care for how I can be mouthy. But it’s part of our packages. It’s among the flaws we’re willing to accept and live with.
(Although I won’t deny I wish he’d be more the hero type and be willing to risk his neck to save mine if the need arose.)