Destruction over Dinner

August 2, 2008 at 1:56 pm (Vignettes) (, , , , , )

I couldn’t help cringing. I’d just met them both—he, full of charisma and energy, her, like damp smoke, sucking the joy out of the atmosphere. He introduced her by her first name and offered me shotgun, next to her as she drove. I assumed she was his wife. “Oh,” she said, hearing my name, “I have a three-year-old named Abby.” Not “we have a three-year-old” even though he was sitting right there. She wore no “token of unending love”—no ring. Odd, I thought to myself, and tried to push it to the back of my mind with the rest of the garbage needing hauled out. She’s probably just been cleaning or working out or something, I tried to excuse her slovenly appearance and dirty hair. Everyone looks terrible sometimes. She’s only going out to dinner with her husband and a couple of ladies.

We headed into the restaurant and he hung back a little, talking to us, letting her go first. Well, okay, business is business. He can talk to her any time. When he finally stood next to her, there was no temptation to touch—as much personal space as I’d expect from any guy near me. He’d said he’d been married four years. Hardly long enough for a marriage to go stale.

Her tongue proved sharper than a needle filled with a lethal injection. It seemed to me she smiled only when she told the story of a triumph over him. Of the dog he didn’t like but she insisted on keeping. How the dog slept with her—she mentioned several times. Not “us.” Her. How she needed to buy this or that. He tried to object, but she made it clear she’d be buying what she wanted. Then she told him she had an interview for a part-time job. Told him just like I’d tell a friend I hadn’t talked to in a week or two, as if he didn’t know. He didn’t seem to. “I’d rather you didn’t drive very far,” he said, softly. “They’ll pay my gas so it doesn’t matter,” she retorted. “Be sure you ask them to pay IRS amounts,” he said. “I’d hate to see you getting ripped off.” “I’ll just write it off in my taxes either way,” she answered, brusquely. “Just be sure you’re actually making money,” he laughed a little, awkwardly. “That’s kind of the point of a job.” “Well, thank you for letting me know,” she smarted hotly. “It’s not like I have a degree in finance or anything. I sure never realized that was the point of a job.” I laughed nervously and shoveled in another bite of salad. The conversation shifted to issues at hand—pornography and addictions and the ways they can ruin marriages. “Some of those guys have issues,” another person commented. “Well,” interposed his wife, “My husband’s sure got some issues of his own.” Toss that out there with pornography and addictions. He’s got issues. Then she added for good measure, “He’s certainly not the man I married.”

I nearly choked on a tomato. He most certainly is the man she married. Perhaps not the man she thought she was marrying. I doubt she looked too much like his wedding day bride, either. Or behaved much like the breathless girlfriend to whom he knelt and proposed. Nobody made her say “yes.” Here she sat, hinting that “if only I’d known.” She pointed to the sharp logo on his crisp polo shirt. “I want one of those,” she demanded. “One that says ‘volunteer’.” He smiled slightly, “We don’t have any. Maybe I can get you one that says ‘staff wife’.” Her groan echoed across the restaurant. “I don’t want a ‘staff wife’ shirt. I’m sick and tired of everyone always knowing me as your wife.” “So, what are you going to do today?” he asked, trying to lighten the conversation. “Oh, I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Maybe wash some dishes.” “Washing dishes would be nice,” he nodded. “Oh, of course,” she turned to us. “That’s because it’s his job. I hate washing dishes so I decided to mow the lawn instead. He does the dishes.” She proceeded to tell us how the lawnmower was a worthless piece of junk.

Restlessly I flipped open my cell phone to check the time. Meals don’t usually drag by like this, sitting across from a woman who seems bound and determined to trample across every inch of the word “respect”, strip her husband of the last vestiges of manliness and drag him by his hair through the dirt. All accomplished in an hour’s time. Was she even aware of the devastation she was causing? Did she intend to offer such a distinct first impression? Did she realize that in destroying her husband’s image she was destroying her own protection? Her own confidence? Her own security? Her own image? In her smug satisfaction at having embarrassed her husband, having bested him, she seemed completely clueless, like she didn’t even realize she had completely destroyed his chances of ever being her knight in shining armor, in her mind or his—or mine.

And I’d only just met them.

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6 Comments

  1. kaysie said,

    Wow. I cringed throughout this entire post! Although I am not married, I am sad to say I know many of these types of women (wives) that make a sport of tearing down their men. It is quite sad but a great warning. I pray earnestly that I will be a wife that builds up, and not tears down.

    Thanks for this post!

  2. Theresa said,

    I had read this on your blog, Abigail, but I read through it again and it left me–like kaysie said–cringing. I have printed this post and am keeping it in the back of my journal as a reminder–of how to act toward my future husband and to others in general. You have written down the story in such a way that we get to see exactly what tearing others apart looks like and how worthless and ugly it is.

  3. Lauren said,

    This is definitely a powerful reminder of what our words and attitudes can do! Like the others said, I positively cringed through the whole thing. I agree lets build others up not tear them down, especially the men in our lives. They have a hard enough time preserving godly manhood in the world, lets boost their confidence not destroy it!

  4. kaysie said,

    You’ve been awarded the “Kindred Spirit Award” at my blog. Thank you for your friendship and encouragement! You are a true kindred spirit.
    God bless you!

    Kaysie

  5. Amy said,

    Oh my! However, I know that I have been guilty of tearing my own husband down from time to time. Nothing like that…but that’s not the point now is it? 😉 The tongue is such a dangerous weapon.

  6. Lindsey said,

    This post makes me sad. It has taken me years to learn how easy it is to tear a man down. Simple statements that I never thought about. Many women choose not to watch their mouths. They feel empowered by sharp words. They want to rule their husbands and boyfriends. I believe this is due to signals society sends but a woman has to personally choose to turn from what society calls “right.” I often wonder…do these women want a divorce? They seem to push their husbands so far they nearly force them to act out. Then….the women play the role of the victim.

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