When we first moved to New York from Texas in 2000, my wife attended a nice
graduate school in a bad neighborhood. We had only one car, and one night I
to pick her up after a class
that ended at 8:00 p.m. It was wintertime, so 8:00 p.m. was well past sundown
and she gave me strict instructions not be be late. I don’t always keep track
of time very well, so I developed a fool-proof plan: Watch 45 minutes of Who
Wants To Be
a Millionaire, then leave home and be waiting for her when she left class.
the absolute dork I sometimes am, I failed to take into account that WWTBAM begins
at 8:00 in New York and not 7:00 as it does in Texas. Mrs. Happy stood in
cold darkness of a bad neighborhood for 45 minutes, alone and afraid, waiting
for me to pick her up.
A few months later, before either of us had grown accustomed to life in the
big city, a friend of ours came to visit. He and I spent the day in Manhattan,
planning to meet up with my dearest after she got off work. She could have
arrived at Penn Station at either 4:20 or 5:20, depending on how quickly she
could catch a train after quitting time, and she was going to call our friend’s
cell phone and let us know when to meet her, so I thought. At 5:30, we realized
we had not heard from her so we went to Penn Station to see if she was there.
She had been there since 4:20 not knowing what to do with herself, alone and
a little afraid. She angrily told us that she would only have called if she
caught the later train
she had to rush to catch the early one. That made sense when I thought about
A few months later, she was working at a school in a not-so-nice neighborhood.
One day she accidentally left the headlights on in her car and the battery
ran down. She was the last person to leave, so no one was around to give her
battery a boost. She called me at work and I rushed out the door. Night was
falling, and I knew from experience that she would not like being alone in
a bad neighborhood at night. I had visited this particular school a couple
of times, but I have no sense of direction and spent more than an hour trying
to find it, while she sat in her car alone and afraid watching the sky darken.
I apologized after each of these incidents. I truly felt bad for leaving my
wife in the lurch. I was just glad no real harm came to her. As we discussed
it later, though, she said, "Well, I guess this is just a character flaw you
have and I’m going to have to learn to live with it." Once that comment sunk
in, it disintegrated my self-esteem. These three separate incidents involved
three entirely unrelated mistakes on my part that all resulted in her feeling
alone and afraid. So my "flaw" was that I couldn’t be depended upon to keep
her safe. One of the most important things in my life is being a good husband,
which I’m absolutely not if my wife considers me undependable. Hurt feelings
on both our parts festered over the following weeks and culminated in a tear-inducing,
- Women have a fundamental need for love from their husbands.
- Men have a fundamental need for respect from their wives.
- If a wife doesn’t feel loved, she reacts without respect.
- If a husband doesn’t feel respected, he reacts without love.
- Spouses must break that cycle, so that…
- a wife respects even an unworthy husband
- a husband loves even an unlovely wife
That’s what happened with us. When I failed to pick my wife up from school,
meet her at the train station, and revive her car in a timely manner, she felt
unloved. How hard is it, she thought, to look at a clock, use some common sense,
and find a school you’ve visited before? She didn’t think it consciously, but
deep down she probably felt like I must not love her as much as she loved me,
for she would never have made such stupid mistakes. When she commented on my
"character flaw," I inferred a foundational lack of respect. I didn’t know
how to deal with her if she had no respect for me.
We did eventually sort things out. Still, this book intrigues me. I’ll share
thoughts as I go along.