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Bar of Soap

In Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ( Nobel laureate) portrays a marriage that disintegrates over a bar of soap. It was the wife’s job to keep the house in order, including provision of towels, toilet paper, and soap in the bathroom. One day she forgot to replace the soap, an oversight that her husband mentioned in an exaggerated way (“I’ve been bathing for almost a week without any soap”), and that she vigorously denied. Although it turned out that she had indeed forgotten, her pride was at stake and she would not back down. For the next seven months they slept in separate rooms and ate in silence.

“Even when they were old and placid, “ writes Marquez, “they were very careful about bringing it up, for the barely healed wounds could begin to bleed again as if they had been inflicted only yesterday.” How can a bar of soap ruin a marriage? Because neither partner would say, “Stop. This cannot go on. I’m sorry. Forgive me.”

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