She hadn’t planned to turn her back on herself. She didn’t wake up one morning and say, “This feels like the right day to put myself aside for this relationship.”
It just happened.
Like so many things just happen.
In an effort to keep the peace, not rock the boat, keep him from getting angry, or to avoid a disagreement, she made the choice to not stick up for herself.
At the time, it didn’t seem like a concession.
She had expressed the desire to have her family come for dinner. He was tired, however, and he’d had a long day at work. He’d given her plausible excuses for why they shouldn’t have company.
And because he is her priority – because they are a team – she understood and said, “Of course, honey. We’ll have them for dinner another evening – an evening when you choose – an evening when you feel like having company.”
In order for this to work, one partner takes the back seat on an issue. She was fine with that because she believed he would willingly take the back seat on the next issue.
Because that’s how it works – in a real team – a team where both players are committed to the relationship.
Because that’s what couples do.
Except When They Don’t
They’d had that conversation last week.
She wanted to believe that this week would be different.
She greeted him at breakfast and asked if he’d mind if they invited company for the evening. In her bright voice she said, “Honey, I need to see my family. We don’t have to make it a production. We don’t have to do a whole meal together. I’d like them to come over. We could play cards or just sit and visit – nothing special. I need to get caught up on their lives.”
She paused and said, “What do you think?”
He put down the newspaper and said, “Do you want to know what I need? I need a hot meal on the table at the end of the day. I need a considerate wife who understands that I work my ass off all day. I need some compassion here. I need to know that I won’t have any demands at home because I deal with demands all day long at work.”
Then he asked, “What do you think of that?”
He got up from the table before she had a chance to answer him.
The Lonely Back Seat
She didn’t call her mom.
It was easier to keep the peace.
She resigned herself to the idea that it in order for there to be harmony in the home, it’d be best if she made him comfortable. Since he was her priority, that shouldn’t be difficult.
She could do this.
She could put his needs before hers.
She could get comfortable in the back seat.
One day he’d see that it was her turn. Surely, one day it would be her turn to have her needs met.
By the time he got home from work, she was wearing the skirt he had picked out – the one he insisted that she buy.
She had his favorite music playing.
She was placing the last fork on the table as he walked in the back door.
“It smells great in here,” he said.
“I made your favorite. I thought you’d enjoy a hot meal after a long day.”
He looked around and said, “We aren’t expecting anyone, right?”
“No, honey, it’ll just be the two of us.”