*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*
My parents are the happiest couple I know.
In the thirty years they have been married (they married when I was ten) they have hardly ever fought with each other, and the few times they did were epic. If they had fought more, or even bickered much, it would feel different, but when my parents really got into a fight it was a big deal.
Now, this is where I tell you that my mom wears the proverbial pants in the family. She is the one who makes most of the decisions, and my dad defers to her on almost everything. I mean everything.
When he gets home from work he asks her if it’s okay to change before dinner, he asks her if it’s okay to have a midday snack, he asks her what it’s okay to wear. It’s very weird. I realize this is a form of co-dependency that isn’t very attractive to some, like me, but they are happy and it works for them.
At least, it did work for them until my dad one day made a choice without my mother’s input and things between them went awry.
One day my dad decided to take my little sister out to run some errands while my mom was at work, and one errand was to get the oil changed in his car. It was still a relatively new car, so he still went to the dealer for oil changes, and I expected he’d be a while and have to wait.
So I waited at home for them to come back. I waited and waited, and then my mom got home from work and we started to worry about them because this was a time before people had cell phones. We couldn’t just call my dad to see where he was and if he was alright.
Finally, hours after we’d expected them home, an unfamiliar car pulled into the driveway and parked in my dad’s spot. My mom and I went to the window and watched my dad and sister get out of the car, and then we just looked at each other, confused.
“Whose car is that?” My mom asked the minute he walked in the door, before even asking where he’d been or if he was okay.
“It’s ours now,” he said, and my mom’s eyes almost bugged out of her head.
“What happened to the other car?”
“I traded it in today,” my dad told her, “I got a great deal.”
My sister and I were sent to our rooms, and we listened to my mom berate my father for ages about how he should never have made such a big financial choice without her. What was he thinking? Why did he do it?
I didn’t hear my dad’s answer, but I imagine part of the reason he did it was to feel like he had some control in his life, and to take a sort of stand against my mom.
She stayed mad at him for a while, but couldn’t deny that it was a nicer car and he’d gotten a good deal on it.
What would you have done?