Diary of a Marriage: You’re Embarrassing Me

What happens when the two of you can’t agree on when to be disagreeable?

J. sat across from me, glaring. Every time a waiter neared our table, his eyes would widen in a silent plea: Please don’t make a scene. But it was getting ridiculous. We’d been unceremoniously shoved into the back corner of a restaurant, an elbow’s length from the always bustling bussing station. Which meant that every time J. and I began a conversation, we were interrupted by a flustered server slamming shut the silverware drawer or a huddle of stressed waiters at the computer station, waiting to punch in their orders. It was the worst seat in the house, and we were stuck there. And I was pissed.

“Babe, come on, it’s fine,” J. pleaded. “Just calm down.”

“This is not fine,” I complained, just loud enough for the waiters to hear. “This is insane. This shouldn’t even be a table.” The couple next to us glanced over. I looked at them, hoping they’d commiserate, so that J. would stop looking at me as if I was some sort of high-maintenance freak. But they didn’t, and J. continued to glare at me, mortified.

This glare is familiar to me. It’s the glare he always gives me when I get angry about poor service, or crap seating, or loud people in movie theaters. The “Don’t Make A Scene” glare that, rather than scaring me into silence, actually pisses me off even more. I take it as a personal affront: Why doesn’t my husband want me to be comfortable? And, even worse, why doesn’t this bother him?

J. hates to make a scene. He doesn’t send dishes back or complain about poor service. Someone could sprinkle his dish with hair clippings and he wouldn’t send it back. I, however, am genetically predisposed to complaining about things: My otherwise placid dad gets flaming mad if a waiter sucks, and my mom has been known to shoot death looks to bratty kids in church. So I’m impatient, maybe even a bit intolerant at times, but at least I’ve come by these traits naturally.

But this doesn’t seem to matter to J., who continued to glare at me. And when I politely asked if there was, perhaps, another table for us, his glare turned to full-on, tight-lipped anger. But I didn’t care. Let him be embarrassed. I was taking one for the team! If he wouldn’t speak up and snag us a better table, then I’d do the heavy lifting myself.

See?” he said smugly, when a waitress told us that, no, there weren’t any other tables available. “Now they’re going to spit in our food and we’re still at this table. Why can’t you just chill out?”

At that moment a busboy reached over J.’s head to grab a glass from the shelf directly behind him. J. sat there with gritted teeth, more angry at me for drawing attention to ourselves than at the restaurant. I threw up my hands and tossed my napkin on the table. I was taking a stand. We would not sit there. When our waiter finally approached our table, I requested to move, pointedly ignoring the daggers J. was shooting at me.

And he moved us. To another dining room. To a completely empty dining room, far away from our cramped little table in the corner of the bussing station. I glanced back at J. in triumph as our friendly waiter paraded us through the sardine-packed dining room to our new seat. J. was mortified, and he remained silent all through our salad course.

Finally I spoke up. “You’re welcome.” He smiled.

And when my crab cakes came out a little cold, I didn’t even send them back. After all, you’ve gotta pick your battles.

Do you and your fiance or husband differ on when to make a scene? Is there one story that one of you always brings up when either of you embarrassed the other? Tell us your stories in the comments!

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