Diary of a Marriage: Sweet Spousal Revenge

On all the little ways we get back at each other. (With a bonus appearance by Diana Ross.)

Diary of a Marriage: Sweet Spousal Revenge


It was stupid, I knew it, but I was irritated with J. and I just wanted the bag of frozen broccoli to explode in the microwave already.

I can’t remember why I was annoyed with him, but it wasn’t enough to warrant a full-fledge vegetable blowout. Maybe just, you know, a tiny leak of the liquid that always pools in the bottom of those SteamFresh bags. Your standard microwaving mishap.

In relationships, there are two types main of revenge. The first is Soap Opera revenge, grand theatrical displays like spray-painting ‘Chuck is a cheater’ all over Chuck’s car. Or drizzling bleach over his wardrobe and then tossing the whole lot out the window. This is crazy stuff. We’re too boring for this kind of drama. Our revenge is more … pedestrian. The second kind of revenge. I have come to think of it as Microwave Revenge.

J. is weirdly obsessed with cleaning our microwave, even though we hardly put it through heavy-duty stuff. But to him, reheating a cup of tea is cause for a full-scale white-glove scrub-down. (I swear this stems from a mild form of OCD rather than an actual intense desire to keep our microwave in pristine condition.)

In any case, as I waited for my broccoli that night, already annoyed with J., I became angrier. And then suddenly the microwave—gleaming like it was just out of the box—seemed like the perfect way to get back at him. I added an extra 10 seconds. The bag was fully expanded and it was starting to make a weird squealing sound. I’d get gross broccoli juice all over the microwave and leave it there. Maybe it would harden, start to sprout weird growths. Ten more seconds. He’d see the mess. It would clearly say—much better than I ever could in a conversation—Your wife has been here, and she is mad.

I had officially lost my mind. I was taking out my anger at my husband on our microwave.

You think you’re above revenge. It’s petty, pointless, therapists surely have five-step programs for stuff like this. But at your lowest, you might think of things like asking for extra bread at a restaurant even though you know your spouse is on a low-carb diet and exploding broccoli in microwaves.

My friend Janine recently told me a story about a woman she knows—we’ll call her Beth—who is married to a man who loves seeing celebrities out in public, and then regaling others with tales of his starry-eyed sightings. While on vacation in Italy, the couple had an argument (in the Vatican, of all places) and Beth stormed back to the hotel alone. While she waited for the elevator, Diana Ross—the queen of all divas and sequins and everything fabulous—came to stand next to her. The next part happened rather quickly: ding, elevator opens, Diana Ross swans into it, peeps her doe eyes out at Beth, then, the voice of an angel—“Are you getting in?”—and Beth thinks of the joy this chance encounter will give her husband, how excited he’ll be to tell friends about it—“And then they’re standing there, Beth and Diana…”—and she hears herself say … no.

In order to get back at her husband, to refuse him the satisfaction of having the gold medal of celeb stories in his back pocket, Beth refused a solo elevator ride with DianefreakingRoss. And then told him about it so he could weep over lost opportunities for impromptu Ain’t No Mountain High Enough duets in Italian elevators.

Beth: 1

Husband: 0

My friend Ashley wages her battles over the toilet paper roll. “My husband obsessively prefers the toilet paper to hang ‘over.’ When I am annoyed at him, I will purposefully hang a new roll ‘under’ or even just flip the remaining roll if it doesn’t have to be switched. It gives me small satisfaction that I have created a small wrinkle in his otherwise smooth day.”

Jess gets her revenge in the trash can: “Pat and I have an agreement that he deals with garbage/recycling and I deal with all the house bills. He inevitably fails at this duty regularly: misses the recycling date, forgets to take the garbage out, et cetera. But most often, he doesn’t put the new bag in the garbage can. This drives me nuts—like, dude, garbage is your job and you have to do the whole job, which includes putting a new bag in. So if there’s no bag, I throw garbage in the bare can or make a garbage totem pole on top of the can rather than just putting a goddamn new bag in.” Ah, the sweet sound of revenge infiltrating our day-to-day mundanities.

Jen, she eats her revenge: “My husband is always on me because I eat so much candy—not a weight thing just a health thing—so when I’m annoyed I rage eat candy bars in the dark like a psycho.”

And Sandy gets her in the kitchen: “I put butter in everything.”

It’s these little forms of revenge that, while they’re nothing the neighbors can gape at—“Did you see her throwing his stuff out the window the other day? And then the bonfire?!?”ˆ—it’s enough to keep things interesting. And at the very least, there’s that.

What are the subtle or secret day-to-day ways you exact revenge on your significant other, whether or not they are away that you’re doing it? ‘Fess up in the comments!

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