A comment that AC made really got me thinking. "On the whole, you both seem very patient with each other."
We weren't always, but you learn things as you go along. I came into this marriage and I will admit that I was a broken person. What I did not expect to find was that my husband was a broken person too.
He was quiet, so it took me a while to figure this out, and I only was able to do so by looking at his life and relationships outside our marriage as we went along, but I realized that a quiet, competent, hard working, smart man had gotten accustomed to being disrespected. Sometimes that disrespect amounted to verbal or emotional abuse.
He's not like that any more. I'm glad. When someone can't stand up for himself, he sure as heck can't stand up for his wife. We had some pretty tough times. I have a pretty low threshold for crap, and a personality like mine can run roughshod over a passive man. A few years into our marriage, I had to make a conscious decision that I couldn't do that to him. I haven't always been perfect, I admit it. As time went on, he became stronger. I also tempered my expectations. He is what he is. A good man, honest, hardworking, and happy with a truck that he can fix, no matter what is wrong with it. (Probably happy with his wife for the same reason...)
Yesterday, I needed a crochet hook and he went along for the ride. In the store, I was talking to a friend, and suddenly my quiet husband bristled beside me. He never said a word, but I felt it. I looked at him surprised. His placid face gave nothing away. I could feel it though. I did a quick look around and that's when I saw him.
When Tim and I met, he worked in a machine shop. I worked there too, on third shift. After we got married, Tim continued to work there on third shift. It wasn't a good job, but machinist jobs were getting hard to come by in the area, thanks to President Reagan's NAFTA deal.
I was looking at his old night shift supervisor a couple aisles over. Tim did not like him and that dislike stemmed from a 20 year old incident. Tim had received a raise, and in those days, life was a struggle so he was plenty grateful for that raise. I was already working somewhere else, but I was grateful too.
Except that the raise didn't come. Tim talked to his supervisor about it, but got no where. After several pays of trusting that it was in process, he finally just stayed over at the end of his shift after clocking out. He waited for the supervisor's boss to come in, and when Tim went into the manager's office, Ed laughed at him and said that he had decided not to give him that pay raise until Tim was "man enough to come in and ask for it." Ed also told Tim that he'd never have a day shift job as long as he was manager.
Tim was enraged. Ed was a prick, a pompous prick, plain and simple, but Tim also felt his supervisor and Ed had talked, and that the supervisor knew the score, and they were both being asses.
So, Tim picked up his rage and went to another company. He was laughed at for leaving, because the company he was leaving never had a layoff. The company that he was going to was known for them.
But Tim was really, really mad. He wanted a job in a unionized company, and he found one. He never looked back.
The joke was on all the people who laughed him out the door, because the company that never laid off ended up declaring bankruptcy and going out of business, as poorly managed businesses are wont to do.
Meanwhile, we struggled for a while, and Tim made up his mind that our living would never be dependent on a company again.
We got through those lean times, and Tim has done well for himself. He's careful with his money and would never throw it around on exotic cars. It is hard work, but we have created a good life for ourselves, and we are looking forward to some pretty golden 'golden years'.
Tim runs into people from those old days, and they ask how he's doing and he asks how they're doing, and in the conversation, people always wind up saying words to the effect of "wow...things have worked out for you, haven't they?" He likes that. He likes it a lot. Sometimes he likes it so much it makes me a little nervous, in a 'pride goeth before a fall' sort of way.
So now it is a quarter of a century later, and I'm standing beside my husband who is staring at his old nemesis. I see that man catch sight of Tim and I saw the recognition...and then he dropped his eyes and passed by without a word.
A few seconds. That's all. The friend I was talking to probably never noticed a thing, but when I glanced quickly at Tim, there was a triumphant gleam in his eye.