My husband, the Carpenter, is the great love of my life.

I adore him. But sometimes, I don’t like him very much. This weekend was one of those times.

I don’t know what sparked the argument. Sometimes our chemistry is just off. Money gets tight. Schedules get full. Work stress. Parenting woes. No one remembered to buy milk. Instead of igniting the flames of passion, we backfire into an explosion of too much togetherness. One of us needs space, while the other needs to feel needed, or one of us is wound up so tight we’re spring-loaded, and the other makes one request too many and bang, tempers flare.

It’s a landslide effect when something as simple as the tone of voice can set in motion a downward spiral.

I seriously considered walking out the door, slamming it hard on the way out, you know, all huffy like, so he’d be real sorry.

But the dramatic effect would be lost on the man who, when withdrawing from reality, is aglow in the pale blue light of an iPad. This is his escape. Sports scores, video games, news feeds; all the things he cannot do during the workday, because construction doesn’t allow it. What construction does encourage is deafness, so slamming the front door would be a moot (make that mute) point.

The reality is, by the time the Carpenter would have even noticed I was missing, he would assume I went out to get chip dip, in my angry “eat chips or someone gets hurt” phase, and would be glad I chose the first option. He’d go to bed, resigned that my salt intake would subdue the beast inside. Tomorrow, all would be fine.

The Carpenter doesn’t hold his anger for long. Our rare disagreements are settled in his own mind by his self-assurance that he is right, I am wrong and any silly behaviour on my part, such as pouting or temper tantrums, only furthers his point that I am the fool and thus clearly in the wrong.

So I can stew away in my hostility, to my heart’s content. He has his iPad and I have become nothing more than a distraction. There is no fight, because he has won whatever the stupid argument was about any way. His conscience is totally clear.

This infuriates me. The imaginary score board shows I am losing. So Saturday night I held firm to my side of the fortress and tucked myself into bed without so much as a good night (yep, that’s right, I’m that tough).

I snuggled into the realization that I could carry the grudge into the next day. Whoever said you shouldn’t go to bed angry clearly misunderstands guilt. Well, I have a master’s degree in guilt, and I can give it as good as I get it, or so I thought.

Later that night, the Carpenter came into the bedroom, clearly unaware of the invisible battle lines. I stirred at the familiar sound of his pocket change spilling across the dresser, the way he shifts around in the darkness, loud in his attempts to be quiet, until his side of the bed goes down under his weight. I would know his sounds anywhere. Safe. Home. Mine.

He rolled over and kissed my forehead, thinking me asleep. And just like that, the battle ended.

Nobody won, but nobody lost either. Peace.



Kelly Waterhouse