“What rot, I didn’t mean it, did you mean it?” (“No, of course not, of course I didn’t mean it.”) They laughed in recognition of their extremity, just as they might have laughed at another time, in the middle of quite different, astoundingly tender declarations. They trembled with murderous pleasure, with the excitement of saying what could never be retracted, they exulted in wounds inflicted but also in wounds received, and one of the other said at some point, “This is the first time we’ve spoken the truth since we’ve known each other!” For even things that came to them more or less on the spur of the moment seemed the most urgent truths that had been hardening for a long time and pushing to get out.
He talked to her about cutting his losses, abandoning old bad habits, old deceptions and self-deceptions, mistaken notions about life, and about himself. He said that he had been an emotional spendthrift, had thrown himself into hopeless and painful entanglements as a way of avoiding anything that had normal possibilities. That was all experiment and posturing, rejection of the ordinary, decent contracts of life. So he said to her. Errors of avoidance, when he had thought he was running risks and getting intense experiences. “Errors of avoidance that I mistook for errors of passion.”
A man doesn’t just drive farther and farther away in his trucks until he disappears from his wife’s view. Not even if he has always dreamed of the Arctic. Things happen before he goes. Marriage knots aren’t going to slip apart painlessly, with the pull of distance. There’s got to be some wrenching and slashing. But she didn’t say, and he didn’t ask, or even think much about that, till now.
—Alice Munro, “Fits” from The Progress of Love collection