Mum knew she'd ceded too much territory to her husband somewhere along the line, but didn't quite know how to claim it back.
She sometimes told a story about the time, before they'd had their first child, when Dad had gone off to his job as a reporter at the Auckland Star and she'd decided to make something of the day and rearrange the furniture in their one-room Herne Bay flat. When Dad got home he wasn't angry exactly, but he told her she'd made a mistake and the couch and the armchair and the little table must be returned to where they were when he left for work.
That was the moment, Mum would say 30 or so years after the event, when she should have told him to get stuffed. But she didn't. Instead she put everything back like he said.