That Other Couple

The Notebook

From “The Notebook”.

We’ve all seen them. That older couple.

Not the one holding hands, smiling politely at each other, silently enjoying a restaurant meal, reflecting on a lifetime of memories.

That other couple.

Growling, snarling, critical, impatient, angry, exhausted.

I witnessed one of those couples recently in a grocery store.

His name was Albert. She ordered him to “stay put” with the cart while she went around the corner. He did not. Something caught his eye and he moved the cart a bit to get closer. She came back, berating him.

“I thought I told you to stay put, Albert. This is why we can’t shop together. Let’s just get out of here.” And I watched, a bit stunned, as they steered abruptly toward the check-out lane.

As he walked a few paces behind, a stoop-shouldered Albert glanced at me. I wanted to tell him to run, as fast as he could, to get away. I could only muster a smile.

Retirement bench

A different bench.

There must be a story there. No doubt, a lot of stories.

Of course, it was none of my business.

But I couldn’t help but wonder…if she treated him this poorly in a public place, how bad must their home situation be ?

Why does Albert stay ? Why does she ?

Why does any couple stay together long after there is little remaining that looks like affection, or even respect ?

It reminded me of that story of the 90 year old couple who appear at a divorce attorney’s office. He challenges them with the question, “Why now, after 70 years of marriage? ”

The answer, “We were just waiting for the children to die”.

It was meant to be a joke, and I laughed years ago when I first heard it.

It doesn’t seem so funny any more.


Inspired by a post from Sandra of A Momma’s View.



This entry was posted in Inspiration, Random Thoughts, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

92 Responses to That Other Couple

  1. nancyruth says:

    It is rather painful to see meanness in public. But one doesn’t know the story. I just hope I don’t become that couple.

  2. amommasview says:

    Definitely the flip side of the coin. Great post too…

  3. Elyse says:

    Ooh. I bet she has no clue she’s doing it; it’s engrained.

    I’ve heard A woman I work with talk about people who treat their spouses like that with disgust. She moved to the office next to mine last month, and I swear I want to slap her every time she speaks to her husband “John, didn’t I tell you …. Why didn’t you listen…” She is an otherwise perfectly nice person. Weird. The other folks around us and I are all trying to figure out how to get her to stop.

    • Engrained…no doubt. It was sad to see strangers acting this way, it must be so much harder when it involves people you know, and see every day. Yikes. If they only knew how they sound ? Thanks, Elyse.

  4. Maybe Albert has Alzheimers and she was afraid he would wander off – again. Sounds more like frustration than meanness to me, but like you, I don’t know the whole story. Maybe she is just a tired, mean old biddy.

    • I never thought of that, CM, I guess one day we’ll be seeing those leash products that some use on wandering toddlers ! ☺

      • I only thought of it because I deal with a lot of elderly clients, and I’ve witnessed this type of interaction more than once where one or the other of the couple has Alzheimers.

      • It makes a lot of sense. Still…her delivery was a bit harsh, and extremely loud. I was embarrassed for him.

      • JoHanna Massey says:

        My first old thought was quite Albert possibly has dementia/ Alzheimers, and he may slyly and quickly slip away and a much needed trip to the grocery store can turn into quite the challenge and frustration with Albert along, because he certainly can’t be left home.

        I’m always saddened by how mean and nasty some family members and couples communicate with one another. I know several couples who speak to their long term spouses in mean ways that they would never even consider speaking to others. They spoke that way to them fifty years ago when they were young and I do not believe they even hear it as mean any more now that they are old.

        This is an excellent post. Thank you.

      • It is sad to think that the behavior is so commonplace that it can be ignored, JoHanna. And that simple kindness is only reserved for those outside of family. Thanks for your input.

  5. A sad story, Van. It breaks my heart to see a couple bickering, at any age. I know disagreements happen, but the nitpicking about every detail speaks of something else, I think, an underlying unhappiness. I hope I continue to laugh with my spouse right through my last breath.

  6. Great post. I’ve seen couple berate each other or not talk to each other at all while eating. It is sad. So long together they don’t know how to live apart or easier to stay.

    • I’m ok with a bit of that shared silence. There is a lot that can go unsaid between those together so long. But those public arguments are quite another thing.💔 Thanks for the read and comment.

  7. Joyful2bee says:

    My husband was emotionally abusive. He died 6 years ago from heart failure. These relationships can start with minor behaviors and become overwhelming to the victimized spouse. The abused doesn’t see the changes because they are often brainwashed by the abuser into thinking they are stupid, failures, or unable to do anything right. The changes also occur so gradually and slightly they don’t stand out until they are over the top. After 6 years, I am still recovering, but doing much much better. I have regained much of my confidence and joy of living.

    • I’m so sorry for your experience, and understand that it must take so long to recover. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. Many hugs. Wishing you that joy of living.

    • JoHanna Massey says:

      You make such an excellent point here about the changes occurring gradually.
      I applaud you for the confidence and joy for living that you have regained.

  8. foguth says:

    I love going to public places to watch people and often try to see the situation from more than one perspective. While the woman seems horribly abusive, I also think of a dearly departed uncle, who had dementia his last few years. We tried to help him stay in the old family home and keep doing typical activities, but he tended to wander off, which would put us in a panic about his well-being. So, I can’t help but wonder if Albert might have dementia and a history of wandering off and possibly getting hurt in the process.

    • There was an earlier comment that reflected the same thought, and one I’d not considered. Thanks so much for your input, Jeanne.💕 There’s always another perspective.

      • foguth says:

        Caring for someone with dementia can be very stressful. I recall one time when we took ‘uncle’ to a very nice restaurant for a special occasion. As he ate his salad, a crouton leaped to the floor and this elderly man dove under the table after it, then triumphantly popped it into his mouth. At least he didn’t wander off or get hurt.

      • I can only imagine the challenges that are dealt to a caring family. It is tragic that so many are affected.

      • foguth says:

        True and unlike a broken bone, mental stressors aren’t visible to the casual observer.

      • That’s for sure, Jeanne.

  9. I like the photo you shared from The Notebook 🙂
    I’m with you Van.
    It breaks my heart to see couple young or old not being sensitive, delicate and polite to their partner.
    Even the once that make it same like a joke, funny sarcasm.
    I hate myself when I catch myself talking bad about my exhusband.
    I loved him at some point and he is the father of my two sons.
    And, what message are we giving the young?

    • One of the messages might be that this is inevitable when folks have spent a lifetime together. And we all know, that is just not true. But words and actions speak loudly, and many young folks approach marriage and commitment with extreme caution. Thanks, Sawsan.

  10. LaVagabonde says:

    I’ve seen this couple around and wondered the same thing. Maybe they’re just so entrenched with each other that it’s easier to stay together and deal with the irritation than go their separate ways.

  11. kingmidget says:

    Well, you’ve just described both my parents and my in-laws. Two sets of older folks who have remained married much longer than they should have. And I warned my wife when we first got married that I didn’t want to end up like either of them. That was 23 years ago, and it’s happening.


  12. Bradley says:

    I come from a family whose parents stayed together “for the kids.” They were together for 35 miserable, As a kid I use to pray they’d divorce. Mom was the first to die, and she was as miserable then as she had been for years. It’s sad to imagine how much happier they would have been apart.

    • I understand. My mother died at 53. I’m not sure their marriage would have survived another decade of challenges. There were issues we witnessed as children, things they couldn’t really conceal.

  13. Erika Kind says:

    Truth, why do they stay together. But even when it appears that she treats him badly it can only be the frustration about so much that happened during the years…. both are responsible for how things turn out!

  14. I’ve seen it many times, Van, but then I’ve also seen the couple who have been married for many, many years, sitting in a restaurant and not a word passes between them for the whole meal. I wonder which would be the worst situation to be in? I hope we never personally find out.

  15. Thought provoking post.

    It’s hard to know why a couple gets this way. My only model for elderly couples were my Grandparents and the only time I heard sharp words exchanged between them was the day my Grandfather found my Grandmother sitting on the couch with her legs tucked under her butt. They were both in their 70’s. He said, “Put those legs on the floor! What do you think you are? A Spring chicken!”

    At the time I thought it was odd, now I realize she was risking a blood clot.

  16. So sad to see such unhappiness and cruel treatment!

  17. Sometimes, maybe it is all about waiting for their children to become adults. Other times maybe it’s because they need each other’s income. Or, maybe they have adapted—misery loves company.

  18. Sad. But seriously, the joke was funny! ❤
    Diana xo

  19. Val Boyko says:

    It’s a sad perspective Van. There seem to be so many older couples who are full of resentment and aren’t even aware of their bickering.
    I’m glad we decided to end our marriage of 26 years before it came to that!
    My second husband and I are the darling old couple holding hands … Most of the time 😉

  20. George says:

    That’s such a sad story and I fear one that is played out much too often. It brings to mind what I read about the last years of Mickey Rooney’s life and how he was abused. There are so many others out there who are living in this kind of unhappiness.

  21. It does make you wonder. I understand that marriage takes work, constant work. I also understand that not everyone is meant to be married OR stay married. Sometimes we just need to cut our loses.

  22. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Post to ponder upon. Thank you, Van. ❤

    • I thought so too, Amy. Ponder away. 💖 Sorry for the delayed response. Did you ever write a comment, tuck it away, and realize you did not hit “Send” ??? Happens to me all the time. ☺ Happy Easter.

      • AmyRose🌹 says:

        Not really, Van, but I get to a point that LIFE happens and when I return to “blogging” a day, two perhaps have passed and so I just continue commenting as though nothing happened. LOL No worries. Happy Ressurrection Day, dear friend!!! It’s gloriously sunny here I hope it will get warm!! ❤

      • Looking cloudy here, but it should pass. I love my 60 degree days…real Spring ! ☺

  23. lbeth1950 says:

    Nobody wants to be those people.

  24. Deb says:

    You’re right, it is sad. I think they are probably together because it’s easier, ironically, than to have to go through the whole splitting up, finding new places to live, starting over…they’re comfortable with each other even if it’s berating one another. So sad…life’s way too short, so let’s all take a lesson from that couple and NOT be like them…ever!!! Wonderful thoughts even if the subject was sad. 🙂

  25. TanGental says:

    That’s a rather sad post Van. You feeling maudlin maybe?

    • Not so much, Geoff, I just was inspired by Sandra’s post with observations about older couples, and remembered a recent experience with that other kind of couple. Thanks. ❤️

  26. Amy says:

    I did that for 30 years and finally came to my senses. So glad I did, because I am now in a healthy, loving relationship. 🙂 I like this post.

  27. What a sad way to live. Poor Albert. I know a lot of people don’t want to be that couple, so they should work at not being that type of couple or they should simply move on and experience some happiness in their lives. There are some people who simply know how to make anybody in their life miserable. They don’t know any other way to be.

    • So true, Jacqueline, and so very sad to me as well. Life is too short for deliberate misery. Terrible things can happen to us all; the way we deal with those things says a lot about character. Thanks. 💖

  28. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week #14 | A Momma's View

  29. Excellent post! It breaks my heart to see couples treat each other with disrespect! The one Jeremy and I always notice is when he walks off and she trails along behind! I always shout in my mind, “Honey, don’t follow him, you are not a dog!” Just once, he needs to turn around and find you gone!

  30. My then-fiancé and I met an Asian couple old enough to be our parents who were just like them. It was so awkward being in the backseat while she drove between the bickering. (SHE had to.) Ayeyayaya. The joke about the kids IS funny. Gotta laugh so you don’t cry. They probably didn’t know how to be any different. You gotta imagine their own childhood and their parents’ relationships.

  31. BunKaryudo says:

    Let’s just hope they were just having an uncharacteristically bad day and that usually they (especially she) didn’t behave like that. It must be terrible to be in a relationship when both partners have no love, respect or affection for each other. 😦

  32. roweeee says:

    Reblogged this on beyondtheflow and commented:
    How to talk to each other as a couple is something to keep an eye on. Could be that the gentleman had Alzheimer’s. The comments are great as well! xx Rowena

  33. colinandray says:

    Like so many aspects of life, change requires motivation. Sometimes procrastination becomes the norm. In your particular scenario, he has probably “switched off” her comments. Putting her on “ignore” is probably so much easier than an escape… at his age (at least from his perspective). It is always good to remember that people cannot verbally hurt us unless we give them that ability. He may well be a real “survivor”!

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