Back in 2003, we were a newly married couple in Bangalore. On our weekend shopping jaunt, I noticed a small home décor exhibition and asked my husband if we could go check it out. He agreed.
We were looking at some interesting terry towels on display. I requested the salesman if I could have a closer look. He replied that only if I would promise to buy them, he would take the trouble to bring them down from the display and show it to me.
I was irked by his response and said, “How can I make a decision on buying without having a good look at it?” My husband was quietly watching this exchange and said “What’s the big deal? Just pick it up if you like it. It does seem like a lot of trouble for him if you are not going to buy it, you know? Poor guy!”
I was offended that he was taking the salesman’s side instead of supporting his wife’s point of view. Whose side was he on? I remained quiet while I was fuming inside. We picked up two terry towels, one each of our choice on the “conditional buying” – the term that suited this arrangement perfectly in my opinion.
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I stormed out of the shop and walked really fast straight ahead. My husband obviously had no clue why his wife was angry and quickly followed me and asked, “What’s the matter?” I refused to give him an answer as I was furious and kept walking along, to which he said, “You can stay angry but you are walking in the wrong direction. Our car is parked towards the left inside the lane!”
I had no choice but to go back to him and the car and we drove back home with the precious terry towels. I maintained a stoic silence throughout the journey as opposed to my usual verbal outpourings. The husband was sure something was the matter but waited until we got home.
Just as we got home, we got right on to the issue (we were engaged for a year before we got married and we promised each other that we would express our feelings and communicate with each other – both good things and disagreements or conflicts). I said I was very upset with him for taking sides with the salesman rather than his wife and that I felt so humiliated and unimportant. I said that the salesman was very unreasonable in suggesting that we could inspect the quality of the towels only on the condition that we would buy it.
The husband reasoned that he had no clue that it was such a big deal. He just didn’t think there was any point arguing with him over a tiny detail like choosing a towel and that he never meant to demean or humiliate me at all.
“Why in the world would I side with some random salesman, instead of supporting my darling wife? You silly girl! I had no idea you were so sensitive.”
At that point, I too realised that I overreacted. But I was so caught up in the heat of the moment and was so angry that my anger was misdirected towards my husband instead of the salesman. Even as these thoughts were running across my mind, my husband started smiling. We both gave each other a glance and he said, “It was really funny when you marched along in the wrong direction so confidently!” We both burst out laughing.
It might sound trivial but these little things keep adding up and over a period of time build up a pressure and negativity. And all that pressure eventually bursts out at the most inopportune moment. If it’s all out in the open, you end up being understood, feel lighter and get to know each other much better.
After 12 years now, we still have those terry towels – one with a big tweety bird on it and another with a racing car. I still continue to confidently march off in the wrong direction and he is always there to steer me towards the right one. That’s what marriages are all about, I guess.