Self Help

As agreed, I am waiting in the Self Help section of the bookstore.
I read in a randomly selected book that the key to repairing a relationship
is admitting that you are at fault, apologizing without
qualifying your statement with a statement such as
“You must admit that you were partly responsible, too.”

If the relationship is meant to continue,
the partner will say those same words,
or a semblance of such, to you.
For instance, “I was just as much at fault,”
or, “You were not the only one who is responsible.”
It is in this mutual acceptance of accountability,
the author says, that healing can begin,
and the relationship can now move in a positive direction.

I check my watch and wonder that my wife
has still not arrived, even though we set a meeting time
a half hour ago. Placing the book back on the shelf,
I head for the little café at the other end of the store.
Perhaps she missed me, is having coffee to pass time until I appear.
Not seeing her there, a little anger flares as I consult the time again.
I ring her phone repeatedly, and it goes to voicemail.

After an hour or so, I give up and head to our home.
When I arrive, she is there. I ask what on earth happened,
were we not supposed to meet at the Self Help section of the bookstore?
She says she’d been waiting for me and took a book off the shelf to browse.
The book suggested that in order for a relationship to be repaired,
both partners must admit that they are at fault for any problems.
I puzzle at the coincidence of my having perused the same book.
“So why did you go home after reading that?” I ask.
She says, “I knew that if this was the kind of advice we’d find there,
our relationship is beyond help. You know, as well as I do,
that neither of us is willing to accept responsibility for our problems.”
Besides her point, the only thing upon which we’ve agreed is a refusal to try therapy.
It was ridiculous to think that some random book would help us.
In fact, it’s the reverse, I see, as I head upstairs to pack my things.
Neither one of us will need any help walking away from this.

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