I was walking along the road and a youngish couple were coming towards me holding hands. As they got close I heard him say, ‘I don’t understand why you’re taking a week’s holiday when I’m at work.’
She replied, sounding very defensive, ‘It’s not a week it’s three days and…’ But by then they’d moved out of earshot behind me and I didn’t hear the rest. That little exchange haunted me all the way home.
I felt there was something, if not downright wrong, about it, at least out of balance. But it took me while to try and work out what it was. And I’m not sure I’ve really got to the bottom of it now.
She replied as though he were not only asking a question, but one that held her to account. She was trying to justify herself. Why?
In fact he hadn’t asked a question; he had made a statement. I tried to imagine she’d said, ‘That’s OK. I don’t need you to understand.’ But perhaps she did need him to understand.
It certainly seemed that he wasn’t just making a statement about his own lack of comprehension; there was an implication of criticism. The sub text seemed to be, How dare you make an independent decision! That, I think, is what she was responding to.
I’ve never seen either of them before and the only clue to the relationship is that they were holding hands but I can’t help wondering how he would have replied if he’d been the one to take three days off work and she had made his comment.
How do you think she should have responded?
If there’s no good answer, does that mean he was out of line with what he said?