When my husband and I were introduced, it was at the home of an aunt and uncle of mine. Some of my relatives used a variation of my name from childhood, the way people who are intimate with you for all your life can tend to do. I’d dropped using that variation once I entered adolescence, and only close family members still used it.
Fast forward. My husband will use my real name, but seldom does. As long as we’ve been together, he almost always refers to me as Honey. When I was a young wife, I thought it was only sweet. In other words, I didn’t think much about it at all. I did notice early on, like small passing thoughts with the barest discomfiture of wondering, why he didn’t use my real name.
At some point, part of my awakening process was during an argument when I heard him use the childhood variation of my name, but with contempt. It wasn’t an endearment at all coming out of his mouth. I realized in that moment that it wasn’t the first time he’d done that, but the first time I consciously noted it, really ‘heard’ it.
It’s like having something disturb or hurt you, but not knowing what it is. Like a delayed reaction awakening, it not only hurt, but angered me. I felt really angry and I asked him to stop it, and explained that he was tainting something that should have been a sweet thing for me.
I’m sure you can guess what the result of that request was. It’s happened since then, and each time I’ve become progressively more angry, but I notice that I’m feeling more detached with each episode. I’m not angry in the original hurt way, just the offended way that makes you want to put distance between yourself and the person hurting you.
It happened last night. We’d been running errands that required driving an hour to the stores involved, and had an enjoyable trip together so far. Pleasant conversation, and many times he’d gotten me laughing. I was just thinking to myself that it had been almost a week since the stupid explosion about him taking time for himself, and wondered how long the lull would last.
I didn’t have to wonder long. He made a comment about wanting to give some kind of schedule to the sons who live at home regarding chores and household maintenance. They’re all legally young adults, and I don’t have a problem at all with the concept of contributing (they already do contribute, there’s just no written consistent schedule for it, and that’s what he wanted). The trouble started when I said that I’d like to get their help with staining the house, fixing a fence, and…. drum roll… repairing the chicken coop.
I meant the outside wood and wire structure that was the outdoor part of the coop. The one that he had backed into with a truck and damaged so that it eventually had to be torn down. The one that made that part of our yard/property look ramshackle now. I didn’t ask to get chickens (although he knows very well that I’d love it).
Oh my. He started on a rant about wanting their help with chores that he didn’t think he should have to help with, then it moved on to a rant about all the time in his life he’d wasted on chickens, and how he felt sick about that. At this point, I couldn’t explain without getting interrupted, but then he threw in the lecturing, contemptuous tone of using that childhood variation of my name.
That made me so mad. I pointed out immediately that he’d just used my name that way again, and he barely paused and kept on his original rant topics. That made me more angry, because obviously it meant nothing to him that he’d just said something that deeply hurt me. I felt trapped in the car, but my anger was turning icy hot, and I said Shut up! I think he realized that I was now dancing on the edge of the cliff. The kind of mad dance where you are angry enough to jump off and damn the consequences. He started apologizing, and now the official story is that he was really really really sorry that he did it. He’s so sorry. Really sorry. Oh, so sorry. He was sorry last night, and sorry this morning.
I just replied, Sorry is when you stop doing it.