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Love means never having
to say you’re sorry

Hillary IbarraThe other day Matthew approached me and said casually, “A couple of moms came up to me tonight and thanked me for coaching the soccer team.”

Eyes narrowing over a sink of dirty dishes, I looked up and demanded, “What’re you telling me that for?”

I really have to get a handle on this jealousy thing. It’s been raging for a robust 12 years. Just the slightest hint of another woman can send my radar beep-beeping all over the bleeping place!

My husband and I have gotten in many freeze-outs because of my overactive imagination. Our freeze-outs consist of communicating only on a live-or-die basis, looking at each other only if we can look cock-eyed with triple-pronged daggers, and rubbing nothing but jabby elbows and feet that could use some serious lotion in bed. The only time we ever get in a freeze-out is when I breathe fire first. It portends an apology; I’m going to have to say I’m sorry for something silly — again — and it wounds my pride. I’m always the one who apologizes, and it’s so very predictable and tedious and conflict-resolving…

For instance, there was that time, quite early on, when I found those pictures — hard evidence, my friends! — that proved my husband took me on a honeymoon hike to the same hill he had enjoyed with an old girlfriend. I stewed and fumed for a good two weeks over that one.

Or the time in San Antonio when I started the mother of all marital brawls outside the Alamo on a ghost tour because I demanded to know if his gold cross necklace, the one I had stolen for my own adornment, came from another woman. And just why had she given it to him for his Confirmation in the first place? Did they like each other that much? He promptly deserted me outside the old fort. I tried to spy the 666 they claim is seared on the Alamo’s wall as I pondered apologizing, but the green-eyed monster blocked my view.

Then there was that time I got mad at him for watching a show about the tango while I was gone on a Mom’s night out, and the film was partly filmed in Brazil — Brazil! And don’t we all know the out-of-control, mind-blowing and dangerous sexiness that goes on in Brazil every day?!?

And there was that ugly misunderstanding about the cleaning lady. I like to blame that on hormones but this jealousy thing isn’t really based on science…

I always have to apologize, because I’m always the one who starts it — all of it, any of it and for any reason. I have a serious defect called Needs to Talk about Every Little Thing That Gets Her Goat, Even Outlandish, Hugely Improbable Wild Imaginings. Love means never having to say you’re sorry — unless you’re the feisty, jealous one in the relationship.

Not so long ago we fought about a commercial with young, skinny women in bikinis rubbing their svelte bums as they dash from a car. Not many people can start a three-day war over 20 seconds of television, but I can.

“What the heck is this?” I demanded.

My husband unmuted it and turned it up because he thought my question was one of curiosity. What I really meant was: If you don’t change this right now, I’ll know that you’re secretly cavorting with supermodels — blondes, no less! — at business luncheons.

I need to go to jealousy management. But, stink, that would probably mean I’d have to go through some nine-step program, which might include learning to really apologize for all these petty arguments I start — even the ones I haven’t apologized for yet. Or learning tiresome, effective techniques to prevent them in the first place. I would have to practice my soulful eyes and clasped hands and sincerely articulated, “I’m sorry,” instead of sticking out my tongue, adding a garbled, “Fine! Sorry then!” or pulling skeletons of old disputes out in a nice Powerpoint presentation to shore up my defense.

I wish it were give and take. I wish he would throw me a bone every now and then. I can’t remember — honest to goodness cannot recall — the last time he said sorry…but, then, I can’t think of a time when he started a fight about the mailman coming around too often or our parish priest making small talk with me or my obsession with 18th and 19th century British literary heroes (all of whom wore plenty of clothing by the way, including top hats and gloves!). A good friend suggested I train our Yorkie to say “Rar-ree” for him. (I would do it, if the dog would pay attention at all.)

But love, I suppose, means never having to say you’re sorry to a hot-tempered, hyper-imaginative, jealous woman who doesn’t know how to hold her tongue. And ain’t he the lucky one?

But maybe someday, in our golden years, he’ll look back at me with gut-wrenching sincerity and pronounce softly, “I’m sorry, too, sweetheart…” and then with slight perturbation add, ”…for something…sometime….uh, I suppose.”

And with a self-satisfied smirk, I’ll gently reply, “Baby, love means never having to say you’re sorry….”

Unless you’re me.

— Hillary Ibarra

Hillary Ibarra has had several humor pieces published on Aiming Low and humorwriters.org. She has dreams of playing the banjo, living in Jane Austen’s childhood home and writing for more than spam artists and 50 loyal readers but can’t seem to find them in the laundry. She is the mysterious blogger at No Pens, Pencils, Knives or Scissors. In her spare time she likes to threaten to sell her children to the zoo, and their little dog, too.

Reflections of Erma