She did, in fact, sound upset - which gave me pause.
This conversation has sat like a lump of luminescent lead in the middle of my brain space since. I've tried to push it into a dark corner somewhere so it wouldn't sit there shedding light on things I would rather not think about, but like lead, it's heavy and is going to take some effort to lift. This blog post is my attempt at lifting it.
Dave and I have a pretty good relationship. I'm quite pleased with it, in fact. My mum and dad's relationship left a lot to be desired. It wasn't pretty. I know it probably started out pretty enough and like most children of divorced parents I like to think that somewhere under all the bitterness and resentment they probably still love each other on some level, but to be blunt, they weren't very nice to each other most of the time.
Compared to that, Dave and I have a fabulous relationship. We both feel a very strong sense of commitment to one another, and we enjoy each other's company. There is a lot of affection between us.
Well, I don't know what mother-in-law might have heard us say to each other that upset her so much. Maybe it wasn't actual words that upset, maybe it was a tone of voice, or perhaps the volume in which we sometimes speak to each other. I don't know. What I do know, and this is what weighs on my mind, is that unless she has our house bugged, I can guarantee she has never heard us at our worst.
Life can be stressful at times. We have four children. We have an extremely low income (even for a family with only one or two children). Neither of us drive (yet) and so we don't go out much because we're reliant on public transport and it is extremely draining to go anywhere on public transport with four children in tow.
I would say the past 2.5 years have been tough and we've probably let it all hang out more than before in our relationship. The thing is, when you break the seal on speaking to someone else disrespectfully, and they respond in kind, it is easier to do it again next time, and so it does tend to escalate.
What mother-in-law said to me last night has shaken me because I know it is true. I know I have let familiarity breed contempt in my relationship with my life partner, and that is an infection that can't lead to any kind of good. So, I'm going to be more mindful of how I speak to Dave, because even though it's nowhere near as bad as my mum and dad used to be, it's not nearly as good as it used to be for us, or as good as I know it could be.