“Not again Richard…not again…” My wife of nineteen years told me when I announced to her that I was travelling to Belgium the following day for a four-day international business conference.
I sighed and bowed my head, thinking of the best way to appease her. I looked up at her and saw she was standing by the dressing table, her arms were crossed and her lips set in that firm thin line that shows, only when she is stubbornly determined to have her way over something.
“Julia” I began, standing up and walking towards her, “do we have to start this again?” I asked, placing my hands on her shoulders and gazing intently at her forehead.
She shrugged off my hands and walked over to the bed and sat down, using her palms to support her cheeks.
“I’ve told you it’s just going to be for four days and this meeting is very important to me…”
“Yes! All meetings are important to you but I’m not”
“No…No…Don’t say that…you know you are”
“No I’m not Richard, I’m not,” She disagreed before continuing, “Because if I really am important to you, you’ll respect my wishes and opinions.”
“Of course I do respect your opinions and wishes but…”
“But what Richard? But what?” She asked, “If truly you respect my wishes, then don’t go to the meeting…”
“You know that’s not possible Julia, I just have to go to this meeting…”
“What meeting Richie?” She interrupted me before she broke down in tears.
“Richard, I need you, I want you, I married you not your incessant meetings, I miss you Richie but you just don’t have the time for me.” She said in a teary voice.
I felt a sharp pang of guilt stab me. I moved to the bed, sat down beside her, placed my right arm around her back and squeezed her gently to my side. I caressed her free arm as I placed my chin on top of her head.
“I know Julia, but you know I need to make money for the family’s upkeep” I said in a very quiet voice.
“Money! Money! Richard, I know this was going to be your exalted excuse”, She replied, “don’t we have enough money Richard? We have more than we can spend in our lifetime Richard and besides, I married you Richard, not your money!”
“But Julia…” I made an attempt to talk but she stood up abruptly from the bed and stood in front of me, arms akimbo.
“I knew you Richard, I knew you when you were young and poor, it was after we married that you became wealthy, and money is not everything there is to a marriage, you need to create time for me Richard, your three kids need you, this house needs the presence of a father and an administrator!”
I smiled sadly.
“Alright, I’ve heard you”, I said resignedly, I knew I could not win the argument, “but I’m going for this meeting even if I won’t go for any other again” I concluded, looking up at her.
She gave me a long hard look before shaking her head slowly.
“I hardly know you anymore Richie, you’ve changed a lot since you became rich…Do you even remember that our wedding anniversary falls within those four days?”
It was true, that was the 23rd of September, every year, and the day fell on Wednesday. It was Monday, two days to the day, and I never remembered until she told me then, but I just had to go for that meeting.
“I know…I know Sweetheart.” I lied.
“So you knew and you still planned on going to this meeting?”
I did not reply.
“Well…My darling husband, I won’t tell you not to go to the meeting, in fact, you can go to all the meetings you want, but…but…but…” She said, before she started to stutter and walked out of the room.
That night, she did not sleep in the masters’ bedroom with me. She slept at the guest room.
To be continued…