Emma’s husband Mark took her to the most upscale restaurant in town on their tenth wedding anniversary, just to make her feel uncomfortable with an inexpensive salad. He had no idea that she would make him pay for his brutality, along with the entire restaurant, the following night.

Warm, golden light filled the diner from the chandelier’s mellow radiance. The exquisite table settings and velvet chairs created a refined environment.

My spouse, Mark, had assured me that the tenth anniversary of our marriage would be the most memorable. I had visioned a decadent evening complete with exquisite dishes and bubbly wine.

I saw the knowing smiles the waiters exchanged as we were seated. They appeared to know Mark well. The most expensive restaurant in town, “La Belle Époque,” was where he had a reservation. This location was meant for significant events, and tonight was one of them.

Mark grinned indifferently and gave me the menu. “Order whatever you like, dear,” he replied, but there was another message in his eyes. I quickly perused the menu, which was chock-full of expensive but delicious items, the descriptions of which made my mouth swim.

Excitement brimming in me, I said, “I think I’ll have the lobster bisque to start, and then the filet mignon.”

Mark’s grin narrowed. In actuality, would you mind beginning with a house salad? Be brief. You really intend to reduce your weight, right? The next time we visit, perhaps you’ll wear that gorgeous red dress I have my eye on.”

His remarks resembled a slap. I felt a sharp blush of humiliation as I looked around. Did he think of this as a joke? However, I could tell he was serious by the steely glitter in his eyes.

“Mark, it’s our anniversary,” I quietly objected. “I thought—”

He cut the waiter off with a wave, saying, “You thought wrong.” “I’ll have the Chateaubriand, medium rare, and my wife will have the house salad. and a bottle of your finest red wine.”

The waiter paused and gave me a pitying look. “Very well, sir.”

With a sad heap of green salad in front of me, I swallowed my rage. Mark relished each morsel of his opulent dinner, showcasing the tenderness of the steak and the depth of the sauce. For him, at least, the wine was flowing freely. I sipped my water, feeling as though the meal would never end.

It was painful to accept Mark’s domineering behavior throughout supper. While I picked at my salad, he was savoring every bite of his steak and making comments about it.

I made an effort to remain composed, but my rage was simmering beneath the surface. Without even glancing at me, he placed his dessert order—a rich chocolate soufflé—and declared, “She’s done.” I was ashamed. And here I was, getting the cold shoulder on our wedding anniversary. I resolved not to let this go as he was enjoying his dessert. I would make sure that this anniversary would be in his memory for all the wrong reasons. I grinned to myself and started formulating a strategy. Early the following morning, I got up. Mark continued to snore next to me. With ideas flying through my head, I silently got out of bed. He left for work, and I started working on my own. I planned numerous plans and asked pals for a few favors. It was time to swap roles.

I prepared all day long. I communicated with the management of “La Belle Époque” first. I gave my explanation, made reservations for the same table for the following night. The manager agreed to assist, understanding my predicament. I then borrowed the gorgeous red dress that Mark had always praised by calling a friend who worked at a boutique. I then got in touch with a buddy of mine who works as a lawyer and helped me open a personal bank account. She verified the specifics of our account and the emergency cash that Mark had concealed. Having the money made me feel confident enough to take the next step.

After arranging everything, I sent Mark a note saying, “Meet me at La Belle Époque at 7 PM.” Put on beautiful  clothes. Emma.”

All the things were ready when Mark got home. The message was waiting for him on the kitchen counter, and the house was silent. When he discovered it, he undoubtedly grinned, believing he was going to get away with a further night of luxury at my expense. He had no idea what I had in store for him.

As I got ready for the evening, I experienced a mixture of anxiety and exhilaration. I knew this was a risky move, but it was required. I wanted to be treated like a human being again, and I wanted to show Mark that. For very different reasons, this was going to be an anniversary that we would both never forget.

Mark showed up to the restaurant with a smug expression. I was sat immediately, dressed in the red  outfit he adored. He sat down, and I smiled at him, a mysterious, charming smile.

His curiosity piqued, he inquired, “What’s this about, Emma?”

“You’ll see,” I gestured to the waitress in response. “I’ve taken the liberty of ordering for us.”

Though he narrowed his gaze, he remained silent. The first dish, lobster bisque, was brought out by the server. For us both. Although Mark’s eyes grew wide, he remained silent. The nicely cooked filet mignon was served next. I saw him becoming more and more confused as the finest wine in the house was poured.

“I don’t understand, Emma,” he remarked hesitantly. We were only here yesterday. What is the event?”

“Our anniversary,” I replied, my sweetness permeating every word. “Well, it was a night to remember. I want to forget about last night. This is one that I want to remember, and I made sure you would too.”

Mark went from being confused to suspicious. He surveyed the eatery, attempting to put everything together. I kept a tight eye on him, relishing his discomfort. When the main course arrived, I relished every morsel. But Mark was too preoccupied with trying to figure out what was going on to really touch his dinner.

I got up and made a toast, drawing interest from everyone in the restaurant. “Pardon me, folks. I must make a unique announcement.”

Mark had a terrified expression. “Emma, what are you doing?”

My voice remained firm and confident as I said, “I just wanted to share something with all of you.” “My spouse took me here for our anniversary last night, but he demanded that I get a cheap salad while he treated himself. I wanted to demonstrate to him what real gluttony feels like tonight.”

The room was filled with murmuring. Mark got a beet red face. Hissed, “Emma, sit down.”

I disregarded him. That’s not all, though. Mark, you’ve always taken great satisfaction in being the one in charge and the giving one. I’ve charged the cost of our dinner tonight to the emergency money you’ve been withholding from me for years.”

His mouth fell open. “What? How did you manage to—”

“Oh, Mark, you ought to be aware by now that my intelligence exceeds yours. Not just that, but also! You will all be happy to hear this, ladies and gentlemen: my husband is giving you all a portion of his money and is covering all of your lunch expenses today.”

Mark’s face lost its color. “Emma, this isn’t funny.”

I stood up and said, “No, it’s not.” “But it’s fair.”

As I turned to go, I felt as though the last ten years were lifted off of me. The diners cheered as I left, and Mark just sat there looking shocked and embarrassed.

He was going to remember this anniversary forever. And I wouldn’t either.