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If you count the courting phase, Samuel and I’ve been together 39 years. Is it possible to deepen and strengthen our twosome, or does trying to discuss an issue that’s been there all along just badgering, trying to change someone from a square peg into a round a hole, or insisting on growth when the only say I have over growth is my own?

Prior years the words wouldn’t come because unresolved trauma made issues so murky, drowning occurred. Mine. I’d slam a door and hide-out in my room. Part of me wanted to calm the waters and not be distant, cold and quiet. Another part still wanted to rant, and scream and shake some life from an inaccessible man whose distance far surpassed mine. If one got louder, the other became quieter.

Beating a dead duck? Or trying to have a reasonable conversation where no one is hurt though one might not like what the other one says.

When I speak up to others, and he is around, he professes embarrassment. I feel applause is appropriate after a life of no voice. I knew it was a mistake to invite Samuel along to the big shopping trip to the grocery store, an outing I enjoy and mostly don’t when he is around. But my friend takes her husband happily everywhere and it seems the normal thing to be able to do. And I still want Normal so bad.

We couldn’t get out of the house before an argument ensued as his idea of almost ready is 20-30 minutes later, enough time for me to clean out the refrigerator. My idea of almost ready is, let me put my shoes and coat on.

So he’s finally done and staring out the window and I’m about to bust as I finish wiping down the fridge shelves.

“What are you doing?” I ask exasperated.

“I’m waiting for you,” he answers.

“I’m waiting for you!” my voices rises, though I’m trying to contain my anger as I promised to be ‘nice’ this trip. Arguing about his idea of ‘almost ready’ means I failed already.

“Go warm up the car. I’ll be right there. And when I say I’ll be right there, I mean it” I curtly spout, my impatience hardly choked back and sternly evident in my voice.

Later in the store while he’s picking out his bread, I’m at the meat case deciding on a package of chicken breasts. The butcher comes out next to me so close I instinctively move aside while he takes my spot and pulls out a package, seemingly fine that he just practically pushed a customer out his way.

Samuel brings the cart over and I’m complaining about the odd treatment when the butcher comes out again with a tray full of boxes and I don’t care if he overhears me. He once again come up so close to me I move over not yet selecting my package.  But twice was too much. .

“What are you doing? Pushing me over?” I say indignantly.

He laughs, saying, “I’m sorry” and stays put, then adds, “People usually like it when I help them.”

“You’ve got to be kidding! You’re not helping me, you’re pushing me out of your way!” I face him unabashedly, at the same time highly aware of this miraculous new Patricia. 

He says, “I’m sorry” once again, but kept smiling, and stepped aside slightly.

I grabbed a package, and added, “I cannot believe you.”

While walking away Samuel makes a noise of disgust, “Geez” he said shaking his head.

And it occurred to me it wasn’t the dam butcher but me he was disgusted with.

“Are you disgusted with me?” I ask in disbelief.

“You told him once. You didn’t have to keep telling him,” he says matter-of-factly, as if he is the wise sage of world.

And where once I would have believed him, as I did in that moment, brushing it away until the ride home, it was in further dissection of the interactions that led me to believe once again that he has a tendency to get even or get back at me.

Something here that through the years I couldn’t find words for, couldn’t place, pin down, define, or make sense of, but it had the power each time it happened to make me explosive…call it passive aggressive, which are just words to me, or call it subversive, a word that has more meaning for me—like a submarine launching a missile. You never know when it’s coming.

And it smacks too much of how Tom treated me all my life, little comments, little put downs, enough over time to destroy me. And this is what I have in my partnership, my marriage?

“It hurts that you didn’t back me up, that you didn’t say, ‘Back up buddy. My wife’s trying to pick out a package of meat.'”, I relay feeling the hurt instead of the anger. 

“But you already told him. And I know how he feels. You don’t know how you come across, so abrupt. Like earlier when you told me to go warm up the car,” he says.

And I immediately sputter, “You are deflecting. Trying to mix up then with now.”

Then it dawned on me, and the thought appalls me, but I say, “Instead of sticking up for me, you were disgusted with me. Too bad you don’t like me. That you take satisfaction that this man trampled all over me smiling and unapologetic, and kept doing it. And you did nothing except make it worse with your silence.”

He shakes his head and says, “No, no. “

Then silence. Silence in fact the rest of the day because I wouldn’t talk. Today I talk. But this is not done or over.

This is the crux of the suffering. I say suffering because he seems to take satisfaction when a complete stranger literally walks all over me. And rather than support me, and act like a man who protects, a man who applauds me for speaking up and when for most of my life I could not, he applauds the stranger, a butcher who is an idiot and ought to know not to shove a customer over so he can look at the dates on the packages in the case so he can take out the freshest that he mistakenly put there.

That is why I was ‘shoved’ aside. Shoved as in using his presence in my space to instigate my moving over. This may seem a little thing, and maybe it is, but I feel it is just the precipice of something far bigger; of how I let others steamroll me in so many ways…including Samuel. Because he lacks the ability or courage to speak up about something when it happens.

I know I was abrupt with him earlier. My abruptness was my way of avoiding an argument that goes nowhere. Say something at the time you don’t like my behavior, something as easy as, “Yes Madam President.” Anything!

Don’t revel in my suffering later, finding satisfaction from it, and adding to it with a look and a grunt of disgust, getting even with me when I’m already down. I want you to have my back, not bash me on the back in an underhanded, cowardly way.



  1. I think it’s really difficult when one partner puts all kinds of efforts into healing and growth, while the other does not. So you have changed and grown, and are rightly proud of how far you’ve come, such as being able to stand up for yourself now. While your husband seems to have remained as he was. Maybe you liked his quietness when you met, as it was similar to how you were in the world, but now you see the dark side of ‘nice and quiet’ – it can also be judgmental and passive aggressive.

    I admire you for standing your ground and finding your voice. Hope you don’t let his grumpy behaviour silence you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with Ellen – you have learned so much and grown tremendously. To you (and to me, too!), it is strength to speak up for the way you feel and not back down when your concern is dismissed. But to him, it’s too frightening, too threatening, maybe too forward for what he expects from a woman, I don’t know. At any rate, he hasn’t done the thinking and feeling and growing along with you. That’s so hard, so frustrating!

    I would say that 39 years of one way of doing things does not mean it has to keep being done that way the rest of your lives. You have changed. He can too, if he wants closeness with you. Is he as brave as you? Will he risk trying a different way in order to create greater depth in the relationship?

    P.S. My husband and I sound just like the two of you in terms of our ideas of “almost ready.” I can’t tell you how many times I have been ready and started to put my jacket on when he has realized he needs to change his clothes, and go to the bathroom, and find his wallet, and… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m laughing at your attempts to leave the house and how you were able to clean the ENTIRE refrigerator before Samuel got his butt in gear. Rob and I are like that. I’m quick and it takes him time to get his stuff together and himself together for that matter. Or at least I think so. Inevitably he ends up waiting for me because I’ve moved on to something else while waiting for him. (Fuming I might add!) Sometimes hours will pass and we’ll look at each other with a finger wagging and both declaring, “I was waiting for YOU!” … sigh … I hate waiting for anyone. It makes me feel trapped. And I really hate that feeling more than anything.

    … but it’s more than that. That’s just the bits and pieces. It’s that it seems you’re out of sync in your growth — I get that too. And also more than anything, it seems that you (like me) are continually challenged by the things you need to work through. The unfinished stuff. At least that’s what I’m interpreting because, of course, I’m projecting my own stuff here. 😉 Whenever I’m pushed like that it’s because I’m triggered. Because I’m recreating a past experience in the here and now so I can somehow have an opportunity to figure it out, heal from it and finish it properly this time. Sometimes it takes a million times and I still haven’t figured it out. Like this week — I finally realized I was seeing myself as a victim in all of my situations. Once I saw that, everything shifted. I wish my behaviors weren’t reactions to being afraid or angry or feeling small. But rather a response to what’s happening just right now. If that makes sense …

    Anyway, that’s what came up for me in my relating to your experience. It’s so hard. And lately since I’m triggered all of the time I’m shifting my thoughts to what I can and can’t control and what I’ve come to realize is that the only thing I have control over is myself. Just me, my thoughts and my perceptions. And the choices I make about my behavior. It’s both freeing and completely infuriating at the same time! Ha!

    Thanks for giving me so much to reflect upon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, such perfect sense. It is really something very very special and rare when another understands the things that frustrate and upset me like you and others do here. Because by doing so you help me to sort it all out and see that of course there are reasons why even a little trip to grocery store can become such a big deal. (dammit! Why can’t it just be a nice trip to the store?)
      That I’m not just a nut case like he seems to treat me sometimes. Although he seems to be treading a little more carefully lately with a bit more consideration towards me that wasn’t there before. When I begin to respect my own needs others do to.
      I would guess you might be feeling more vulnerable as your body took quite a hit. And when one’s body isn’t at it’s peak, it’s hard for other parts too. That’s the time it’d be nice for someone to gently stroke me lovingly and tell me everything will be alright…Mother Nature perhaps… : )


      1. I’m so glad it helped. I was worried I was shedding some of my own stuff onto yours and didn’t want to come across that I could truly know your experience, but more that I related in my own way and with my own stuff.

        I think you nailed it with this — “When I begin to respect my own needs others do to.” That seems to be the golden ticket! At least for me and I’m finding that if I’m not stomping around and pissed at everyone but calm and clear and gentle it helps. And the bigger piece for me is that I’m entitled and should have my own needs. So there’s that too — I don’t have to slam doors to have them. I get to just have them. Period.

        He (or anyone) can only see you as a nut case if you’re willing to be seen as one. Right? Hold your space. I’m right beside you working really hard to hold my own. For me, I have to keep checking myself constantly, and reminding myself that I am in fact okay!

        The funny thing it that I so very much want to be stroked gently and lovingly and told by someone else that all will be okay. Something I never ever had as a child, and I’m finding that even when I do have it now I don’t see it or I push it away. Probably because I don’t believe them. So I need to get to that place too.

        Work in progress. Work in progress. Work in progress. That’s all I have to say. (For now. lol.) Sending love.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I just always smile when I read your ‘stuff.’ And your thoughts and feelings are always welcome.
          Holding onto my space …yes, I like that, and I feel I am beginning to. Thank you… : )
          The time I received the attention I craved from my mother was when I was sick; the cool hand on a fevered forehead, that brief moment meant so much. The rest of time I was on my own.
          So touch is not something I receive well or easily, but there are times I need it very much. At those times I take Samuel’s creaky arm with the worn out hinges and pull it around the pillow to cuddle me even if he can stand it only a minute. I used to put up with the sexual parts of the relationship only because of the cuddling after.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. This moves me on so many levels. 39 years of a being in a relationship. Showing up and being willing to stretch and grow together even if at times it feels more like a tug-of-war. 😉

            My mother always seemed relieved when I was sick and I got a cold back to me. Less attention because I was too sick to ask for it? To pester her and take up space? I’m not sure. Perhaps because I was “off limits” to my step father so to speak and in a way was huddled up, being less visible and taking up less space. I don’t really know but it’s stuff to work through so when I am sick I don’t feel so vulnerable now.

            We’re off to bike rides and swim meets and the zaniness that this weekend brings. I hope you’re able to have a little decaf, a nibble of chocolate and some strolls in the meadow with the sun on your face. XO

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Really loved the way you expressed the all the subtleties here of the dynamic between your husband and yourself. You are no nutcase, in fact you have a clearer idea of what’s going on than most people I have encountered. I love that you stood up to the Butcher! I believe that being abused as a child makes us so aware of the things that others miss. Those subtleties and the tendency is to think – at least I know I do it- that we are wrong that we somehow imagined it because we were trained to mistrust our feelings and ourselves. As we step back into ourselves we are no longer willing to accept that we imagined something because we know we know. Just like you do. The fact that you see it and that you can stand up for yourself speaks volumes but sometimes we want the people close to us to get it too. Sometimes it’s not always possible but most important is that YOU. Brilliant post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it is hard being with a man who won’t stand up for me when I need it. And instead lets things curdle inside him until they erupt in unpleasant, overblown, unproductive ways.
      Ahh, the applause I crave finally! Brilliant you say? Thank you. Your support is so needed, satisfying and heartening. And makes so much sense.
      That even now, standing up for myself feels mixed up partly due to my husband’s criticizm of it. Just like mom, just like the rest of the family of origin. ‘Don’t let her feel too good or whole, she will let out our secrets than bind her down .(Life a coffin)

      Liked by 1 person

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