Today is my anniversary, Janet and I married in 1973, if you take that from 2011 you will know how long ago that was and I won’t have to do the math. I haven’t always understood her, in fact I still don’t understand her, I just try to be understanding. Now don’t misread that, I love her (beyond my own life) but I don’t understand her.
Like a person living in a foreign country, unfamiliar with the language, I’ve learned the essential phrases…Where’s the bathroom husbands can use? Are these towels for me or are they just show off towels? Usually, between the expression on her face and the inflection in her voice I can figure out if the answer is a yes or a no, and thankfully she points alot. But, having survived marriage longer than many of my peers, and being a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, I’ve learned to interpret some of the code and I’m beginning to pick up on some of the nuances that seem to fly right over the heads of my contemporary husbands.
Let me give you just five phrases that I’ve heard recently. Now, before you jump to conclusions, I speak with many couples every week and some of these phrases very likely came from conversations with them. I am not saying they did, because confidentiality requires me to keep our conversations secret. But don’t get the impression that these kinds of phrases happen in my house.
1. Honey, would you make a stew today? From that you might think she likes your stew, or perhaps the weather is changing and it is a perfect soup or stew day. Wrong What this really means is, I’ve been after you for three weeks to sharpen my knives and maybe if you try cutting up steak and potatoes with a butter knife you will recognize that they need to be sharpened. Those of you husbands who just reach into your pocket and do the food prep with your pocket knife receive style points but if you don’t sharpen her knives while you do it, you do not receive credit for your answer.
2. Sugar, thanks for fixing the washing machine. You repaired the washer without calling the service technician, good for you. Please don’t think this is an acknowledgement of your mechanical superiority to the ape. What she really means is, When are you going to gather up these water pump pliers, screwdrivers, Teflon tape and spare screws, bolts and nuts and drag them out to the garage? If you understand the translation of this one before you crawl under the sheets and find all this piled on your side of the bed…. there is hope for you.
3. Darling, would you mind starting my car and turning the defroster on for me this morning? Nope, it has nothing to do with safety or seeking her personal comfort. This is code for, Maybe when you trip on those two by fours in my side of the garage you will remember that a car goes there, not some weekend project you began June 12th and you will never finish anyway! This translation is a bit tricky, deciding to get back to work on that weekend project is not accurately interpreting the phrase.
4. Is it hot in here or is it just me? Stop, before you go any further, if you hear the phrase, or is it just me, that doesn’t ever mean it is her. If you missed that, you fail and you are doomed to take that only trek to the dead bull elephant bone pile. Also, no matter what language you speak never put together phrases about “the change”, “time of life” or any other reference to aging. The translation is, Would you please get up and turn down that thermostat. While you are up you can go put that nifty down vest on under your teeshirt that makes it look like you have a potbelly, and while you are up replace the batteries in your electric hunting socks.
5. Do you have anything else to go in the laundry? This is a phrase that can never be answered yes or no. The translation is, You need to get down on your hands and knees, rake under your side of the bed for socks and underwear, also don’t forget to shake out your boots for old socks! And beat the crusties out of those socks over the trashcan not walking down the hall in a cloud of dust again.
Okay, that is enough lesson for today. I hope these rudimentary phrases help you navigate your way through life with as much joy and laughter as Janet and I have shared over the years.