I spent three hours at my parents’ house today. Watching them interact, really watching them, opened my eyes to a truth about myself and my relationships. If I don’t change myself, it’s very likely that I will end up in a relationship like theirs. I love my parents, but I honestly don’t know if they’re happy with their marriage. I do know, though, that I would not be happy if I was in a marriage like that.
Their new deadbolt didn’t work with their key, for whatever reason. It was one of those reprogrammable ones, so you can set it to work with your existing keys. It’s feasible that the reprogramming process didn’t take, again, for whatever reason. Watching their interaction on it, though, was enlightening, and painful. Dad said that Mom probably didn’t follow the instructions correctly, while Mom said Dad did something wrong in the process. Lucky for them, when I installed a new programmable lock a few years ago, I had a similar problem, and I knew there was a way to pop the tumbler out and re-key the lock, so I said I’d look at it. I thought that’d be the end of it, but as I started looking, they kept going back and forth.
I don’t know if I’ve made it clear, but I’m not in the most stable of mindsets lately and trying very hard to find some semblance of serenity… and this bickering wasn’t helping me stay serene, or helping with the actual process, so I snapped. I interrupted Mom and told her to hush, that I would fix it. I pointed at Dad and gave him a look that said “Let it go.” And then I started working on the lock, feeling a little bad about it, but also feeling worse that I had to be The Adult in the room. Mom gave me what I can only describe as an “Eat shit” look, and went off to read a book. Dad stayed and helped with the lock.
After the lock was fixed, I went and sat on the couch in the living room with my mother. I apologized for snapping at her, and was about to follow-up but she immediately, angrily, replied with “Don’t let it happen again.” I’ve thought about this all day since then, and I still think that I did the right thing, so I’m confused as to how she could have stayed angry enough about it for a full hour that she felt the need to say that to someone who only a week ago was exposing how vulnerable he was and how he had considered suicide. Eventually, conversation resumed as if nothing had happened. As expected, I received advice that I need to start pushing my wife to open up communication lines. I still consider this bad advice, despite agreeing with my mother that the longer we go without talking, the harder it will be to rebuild a bridge between us. I don’t want to wait, don’t want this rift to grow wider, but I’m sure as hell not going to push right now.
Again, I love my parents. I really do… but I don’t want to turn into either of them. It’s going to take some work to scrub out the habits that I’ve learned from them, but I think that’s work worth putting in.