I promised I would return to this subject.
What astonished me about the lady in the park was her cheeriness to me once she had slagged off her husband/ partner ( don't you hate that word? makes it sound like a business deal - but then again, maybe it is).
I have been reading a book by a chap called Gerd Giggerenzer, who is head of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. The book is about going with your gut feeling, rather than the Benjamin Franklin advice to draw up a balance sheet and see which option is better. Apparently, our instincts produce better results, and by a long way.
However, part of his thesis revolves around why some couples live long and happy lives, being nice to each other, whilst others have flaming rows every few minutes. The lady in the park had no reason to be nasty to me, and therefore was perfectly nice. I was clearly being deferential and "nice" as well.
It all depends what happens the first time someone says a cross word.
At the risk of appearing sexist, let us suppose the man, on returning home after working hard, doesn't find his dinner on the table.
Does he a) yell at his wife to get a move on b) sit down with a drink whilst she makes it c) says " Let me give you a hand"
Now on the face of it, option b) looks pretty good, but this can lead to resentment. a) instantly leads to a yelling match, which leads to resentment on both sides. c) on the other hand, leads to the wife feeling guilty she hasn't got the dinner ready, so she is especially nice to him.
In other words, if someone is nasty to you, by being nice back, you make them feel guilty, and they are then nice to you. Far be it from me to draw parallels, but somebody once said something about turning the other cheek.
So the lady in the park was getting her own back on the man for not being nice to her. He, in turn, would almost certainly " pay her back" at the first opportunity, and the vicious circle would lead eventually to divorce etc etc etc.
If on the other hand, she had said, " No worries, darling, just you go and enjoy yourself - I'll sort out ( whatever)" he would feel guilty and would almost certainly do what she wanted next time. Result? Happiness all round.
So the next time a retort leaps to your lips, count to 10 and say nothing.
Or better still, " Sorry."
From 1 Corinthians 13:
"Love is patient; love is kind;love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice in wrongdoing,but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things,believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."