February 13, 2018 at 7:54 pm #739198
My wife and I have been married for 30 years and are in our early 50’s. We have been unable to move forward since having an argument recently. It was a particularly hurtful spat and each of us believes the other was responsible for starting it, and neither are budging. We know that it takes two and neither of us is perfect, but we need a call on this one.
Here’s what happened
For Valentines day I decided to surprise my wife with a Swedish massage and private dinner in our home. Over the years I have heard her mention how nice a massage would be and I was excited to do this for her. I did my research, read reviews and found a highly recommended professional home massage therapist with almost 20 years experience who had an opening. I made the massage appointment for the coming weekend, arranged for a babysitter and began working on a plan for a candlelight meal.
Later I thought it might be best to tell my wife about it, in case there were things that she would want to do to prepare (she likes to know when company’s coming).
She seemed a little apprehensive when I told her about it. Sometimes new things make her nervous. It was a male massage therapist and I assured her he was a licensed professional with outstanding reviews (most all female), and that I would be there right beside her and that she could wear shorts and a top and place towels across herself for maximum privacy. We could have a few drinks and relax and talk as the session went on and have dinner afterwards.
Later that evening she expressed nervousness about the massage again. She asked if we could get a woman instead, which we could not for that date/time. She asked would I do it with her which would take 2 therapist and mean a cancellation and rescheduling of everything (sitter, etc), and I do not personally like massages (something I think she knew). This massage / private candlelight dinner at home were my gifts to her based on things I have heard her say or wish for. So I assured her again that I would be right there with her and that she would enjoy it and we would be fine.
The next morning is when the argument erupted. It happened like this. She said that she was feeling sick and didn’t feel up to cleaning the house, and that maybe we should reschedule (cancel) everything.
So I told her that I would clean the house for her.
This is when everything changed. She became infuriated with me because she said my tone insinuated that I thought she was lying about being sick (she was not), and that she was irritated and felt I was “pushing” her to do something.
But this (my tone insinuating she was lying) infuriated her so much that she became enraged, telling me how it was obvious that the massage was not for her, but for me, because if it was for her I would have listened to her and cancelled or moved it. She then said I was stupid for having come up with the idea and that she didn’t want some man groping her naked body anyway.
I cannot say in 30 years I have felt quite so hurt. I was taught not to be rude when someone gives you a gift, even if you don’t like it. I may have got the wrong gift for her, but the attempt was done with the best intentions and good will. I had no idea this would happen. Now I was being looked at like something horrible, accused of having selfish motives, of not really getting her anything, of being stupid for the thought, and my gift itself was being ridiculed as being someone “groping”.
These comments blindsided me and my bewilderment turned to anger and we got into a fight the likes of which folks seldom see, dragging up every thing we could find from every fight we have ever had, calling each other every name we could think of to see how much we could hurt each other. I had to leave and drive all day to get away. Coming back, not much had changed.
She says the argument was my fault… I started it.
I’m dumbfounded, I can’t see how this has been my fault
Its been several days now and neither of us will budge.
Her: The whole blowout was my fault (I had started it when I told her that “I would clean the house up for her” in a tone that suggested to her that I thought she was lying when she said she was sick).
Because of her previous apprehensions, it did appear to me that she was looking for a reason to back out. How that affected my tone I cannot say. If she wanted me to cancel fine, but tell me so. In our exchanges she never said “no” I don’t want to do it. I was playing the role of encourager to help her overcome her inhibitions. But if someone decides they just cant or dont want to do something then we accept that and its over. We cant make that decision for them. She never said no. So I was still playing the “encourager” role when she says my tone went wrong (which set her off and which she blames for the whole fight)
Me: The argument was not my fault. I was only trying to help her with her inhibitions. Saying “I will clean the house up for you” was part of that. If it appeared that I thought she was lying that was because sometimes people use sickness to back out of things they don’t want to do. If she didn’t want to then just say it. That would have been my thoughts. But my words only said “I will clean it up for you”.
Even if the tone was wrong, my tone did not warrant her impuning my motives, ridiculing my gift and calling me selfish and stupid. Its not like we debated this for hours. I cant know what she wants unless she tells me.
My “tone” may have been wrong, but it was not mean and it did not warrant the horrible things that were said to me. While she said that she is sorry for saying them, it feels insincere because she said itm my fault she said them. If I hadn’t have “started” everything it wouldnt have happened. So the blame always goes back to me. Its my fault she hurt me so much. That to me is “sorry-not sorry” and is why we are at an impasse.
I’m not looking for justification and i dont think she is either. I know we both did wrong. I just dont feel that my wife thinks she did anything at all wrong except say those nasty things to me which she believes were justified because of my tone.
I know that it is impossible but I have tried not to be one sided so that both arguments are given. I think I have given both of our positions the way we see them. I find that out later.
So who was at fault for this argument and why?February 14, 2018 at 12:05 am #739215
If it doesn’t work out we can get married. That is my dream Valentine’s gift. She sounds irrational as hell to me. Also, a massage is not a strange man groping you, eye roll.February 14, 2018 at 6:29 am #739236
She gave you plenty of opportunities to understand she didn’t want the massage. It was irrational to always yearn for one and back out at the last minute yes but she was basically holding a giant flashing sign that said ‘NO.’ I think if you’d listened to that earlier your wife would have felt heard and it wouldn’t have escalated.
Now where to from here? I’m not sure. It sounds like something is brewing under the surface there if you’re both bringing up old fights and rehashing those as well. Would a session or two with a therapist help? Maybe you need to work through some stuff. You guys fought really dirty and I don’t think that can be brushed under the rug.February 14, 2018 at 7:55 am #739244
It sounds like you had prepared a very thoughtful gift for her based on her previous comments. However, I think you both are in the wrong on how this played out. I believe she should have been direct with you in letting you know that when it came down to it she was not comfortable with the idea (for what it’s worth, perhaps having it at home made it seem more erotic than you intended). After being married to her for 30 years and seeing her hesitation and the road blocks she was putting in place you should have asked her directly if this was something she no longer wanted. You even say she was nervous and you thought she wanted to back out. Why then did you not pick up on that and cancel or ask her directly?
I realize it’s frustrating and yes, we are taught to be grateful when given a gift. In this instance the gift was a male stranger she didn’t know, placing his hands all over her body in a candle lit room in her home. You being in the room with her would not make it better if she was uncomfortable to begin with. Her comment about the massage being more of a gift for you than her really rings the bell for me that she felt this massage was intended to be more erotic than relaxing.
Trying to force someone into something they are uncomfortable with is cruel. She probably takes issue with that and for that, yes, I think you should apologize.February 14, 2018 at 8:34 am #739247
I reckon the only thing you did wrong was not pick up on the fact that she would much have preferred a woman.And her biggest mistake is not being clearer about that. If I was going for a sports injury massage or the like, I wouldn’t care if the therapist was male female or neither. If it was a candle-lit massage in my own home I’d enjoy that from a professional, qualified female masseuse, and just would not relax as well with a masseur, even one who was just as good and well qualified.I’m just more relaxed with women, and maybe your wife feels the same way. I hope you get through this one quickly as it sounds like good intentions + a misunderstanding.February 14, 2018 at 8:49 am #739250
So, are you both going to stand your ground on this and end a long marriage over a Valentine’s day gift gone wrong?
You were too attached to the expectation that she would enthusiastically accept a gift you had put so much thought and energy into and missed all the not very subtle hints that she didn’t want it.
Her accusation that this gift was for you seems misplaced. Perhaps this is a gift she loved as a fantasy but didn’t like as it was about to become reality. Perhaps she found it difficult to back down from this fantasy she had discussed with you.
On the bright side, imagine how badly this would have gone had you not given her that advance heads up?
Valentine’s day has killed more than a few relationships. Btw, so little historical data on Saint Valentine that he has been removed from the official Roman Catholic calendar.February 14, 2018 at 8:51 am #739251
Second P.S. — high quality dark chocolate is a much safer way to go. You can enjoy eating it together and some claim it is an aphrodisiac. Even if it isn’t, pair it with wine.February 14, 2018 at 9:14 am #739254
Not for nothing, but the national chain Massage Envy recently had a huge scandal when it came to light that their male massage therapists were sexually assaulting women. Like, a lot. Widespread, and they were trying to cover it up. One woman had a guy put his FIST inside her. Honestly, I’m wary now of male massage therapists. Look it up, it was disgusting.
Your wife was apprehensive but trying not to be rude and reject your gift. She was thinking about your feelings, but ultimately was too skeeved out to go through with it. You both need to try to give the other the benefit of the doubt that your intentions were good, stop trying to make this one or the other ones FAULT, and work past it together.February 14, 2018 at 9:27 am #739259
Also, the last time my husband and I went for a massage, the guy touched my breasts at the end for no reason. I’ve had a bunch of massages over the years, and that’s not a thing. Not only that, but I asked specifically for back, neck, and shoulders only, since that’s where my tension is. They flip me over at the end to do shoulders, but breasts are not a part of the deal. Wtf.February 14, 2018 at 9:30 am #739260
“She seemed a little apprehensive when I told her about it. Sometimes new things make her nervous.”
“Later that evening she expressed nervousness about the massage again. She asked if we could get a woman instead, which we could not for that date/time”
“She asked would I do it with her which would take 2 therapist and mean a cancellation and rescheduling of everything (sitter, etc), and I do not personally like massages (something I think she knew).”
“She said that she was feeling sick and didn’t feel up to cleaning the house, and that maybe we should reschedule (cancel) everything.”
“So I told her that I would clean the house for her.”
“I cannot say in 30 years I have felt quite so hurt.”
“(her) “The whole blowout was my fault (I had started it when I told her that “I would clean the house up for her” in a tone that suggested to her that I thought she was lying when she said she was sick.
Because of her previous apprehensions, it did appear to me that she was looking for a reason to back out.”
Come on, dude. If after 30 years this is the most hurtful thing your wife has “done” to you, you need to swallow your hurt pride, and let it go.
It is rude to call someone you love stupid. It breaks trust. It suggest the person doing the name calling doesn’t have the trust or skills to effectively communicate and validate. But it sounds like she typically does MUCH more of the emotional work than you.
It sounds like you went out of your comfort zone. Perhaps you were trying very sincerely to put yourself out there for her, and it left you feeling vulnerable. You were willing to do that for her, and you wanted some acknowledgement.
I am an internet stranger. Feel free to think of me as a judgemental shrew. If I didn’t know who lovely and good-hearted you were at your core, I’d think you were behaving stupidly and selfishly,too. You were laser focused on what you thought you knew and it was making you rigid, which would be fine if it was YOUR experience, but it was HER experience. You were too invested in the payoff of being thoughtful to accept disappointment. She was too sick and lagging in mental energy to be gentle with you so it came out as a punch. She defended herself.
Your pride is hurting but after 30 years you should do the work of managing that pain yourself, say you are sorry, mean it, and move on.February 14, 2018 at 9:46 am #739264
she did not want a male masseuse – and you wouldn’t change the date etc to accommodate. honestly, that’s a dick move. she was uncomfortable with it, you recognized it, but didn’t care. she very obviously did not want to go the day of, and you still pushed. that would push me over the edge too. all you were concerned about were your feelings for the gift. if you truly wanted to give her this gift, you would have changed it to something she would have liked/been more comfortable with. you can move dates, get another babysitter. the actual day doesn’t not matter.
apologize to her and move on.February 14, 2018 at 9:50 am #739266
I think you should just take the lead and apologize to her, and let her tell you how she felt/feels. Take the “blame.” Maybe she’ll also apologize to you for saying mean things or whatever. You can either stay in this shitty standoff or do something constructive for your marriage. Apologize for your part in this.