The two sat in silence. The hum of the machine in the car wash doing its job was the only sound. He couldn’t believe how ungrateful his wife was. Twenty years of marriage. Did she not think he could have left her at any time? He could have. But he chose not to. Marriage meant something to him. She had threatened divorce before and didn’t follow through with it. Maybe this was like that. Yeah, he thought, she’s just trying to get attention. I am not going to give in this time. I’m going to call her bluff.
She was also thinking of twenty years of marriage. Twenty long years. How did she get to this point? Did she really just waste twenty precious years of her life? The thought made her anxiety level rise. What had she done with her life? Had she really been miserable this whole time?
No, she thought. Not the whole time.
In the beginning he had been a bit more attentive. Chadwick had always been Chadwick, there is no denying it. But there were moments in the beginning when he did seem willing to impress. There were moments and days of laughter and smiles.
One of her fondest memories was after their first round of counseling. Though the sessions themselves were a bust, it did prompt him to some action. Almost as if he was trying to prove he didn’t need counseling; that he could fix the problem without any help.
One day he came home early from work on a Friday. Instead of grabbing his golf balls and bag and heading to the course, he told her to pack bags for her and the kids. She obliged and they pulled the children out of school for the day.
They then traveled north along the coast stopping at the Redwood Forest and continuing on into Oregon. Since it was a spur of the moment decision they didn’t have any reservations to stay anywhere for the night. They ended up staying in a KOA cabin. He complained about roughing it the whole time and apologized for his impulsiveness. She loved it though.
They roasted marshmallows and looked at the stars searching for constellations. It reminded her of times her family had gone camping when she was young. The next night they found a hotel to stay in and he was much more in his element. The kids swam in the pool and they watched a movie together as a family before falling asleep in the same bed.
On the way home the next day they sang songs and laughed. This was how she had always pictured married and family life. The pictures from this trip were among her favorites that she loved to look at. She looked genuinely happy.
It didn’t last though. After a few months, he settled into his old ways and quit trying again. In fact, he became even more stubborn in his ways almost as if punishing her for his lapse into effort. The more he became content, the more she realized she was not content. That was the problem. Their whole marriage they just couldn’t get on the same page.
The car moved slowly forward and the soap started to drip off during the rinse cycle.
No, she thought again. The past twenty years have not been a waste. I have two great kids. Some very pleasant and honestly happy memories are behind me. I have grown as a person and know more of who I am and what I want. All of this is not a waste. I am just moving forward to continue progressing.
Chadwick saw her slight smile as she thought of the happy memories and he smiled a sick smile. Obviously, she was bluffing. There was no way she would leave him. What would she do without him? She wasn’t going anywhere.