Marriage can be trying at times. You spend a lot of time with your spouse so that after a certain period of time you may be introduced to the notion that things you always believed about yourself are not universally perceived under the same radiant aura as is comfortably ensconced in your own imagination.
In short, living with someone soon destroys certain illusions. Not all your jokes are funny. In fact your witticisms and wry comments are simply registered as stupid.
And there is no one quite so perfectly situated to prick the balloons of self-puffery as a spouse. A spouse sees you at your best, your worst and all ports in between. It is a rare person indeed who can maintain one’s public persona once inside the four walls of home. Inevitably one gives in to those human foibles that we are all heir to.
You learn to curb most of them. You don’t kick off your shoes in the living room and leave them there. The laundry basket is there for a purpose. You learn to leave the seat down.
The point is there is one person who has got the goods on you. And that person knows that there is every possibility that all your failures, all your sins of omission and commission, all of your shortcomings could be revealed at the drop of a pin.
And if you can get past that, you have a good chance having a happy marriage.
My Lady Wife and I have shared more than a few years together now. We know when to give some space and when to fill a void. We negotiate and bargain over a raft of those small arenas that collectively make up living together. This bargaining is almost always unspoken.
To name it is to create a problem. But you see a thing left undone, and so you do it.
Again, you see a thing left undone and you do it again. After a certain period of time you realize this is your part of the collective tasks that makes up living together.
It is one of those small negotiations that I could ignore or take on. And if I really think of the negotiations I have lost over the years, I usually think about the perks that make up for them.
There is the self-replenishing sock and underwear drawer in the bedroom. The patient voice that assures me we are not out of butter and encourages me to search the fridge again but this time open my eyes.
It wasn’t always that way. I can remember My Lady Wife early in the marriage would always comment on how “manly” I looked in doing some task. She would comment on she liked how “decisively I drove” or how “graceful I looked” as I flitted around making the bed.
And so it went until one day she could not restrain herself from saying, “You look so masterful taking out the garbage.”
That’s when the light went on. OK, I have a healthy amount of male ego. But NOBODY looks masterful taking out the garbage. And only on the rarest of occasions has my name and the word “graceful” ever appeared in the same sentence (unless accompanied by the words “three-legged billy goat”).
So score one for My Lady Wife. But I have a few tried and true tactics of my own. And no, I won’t give them up now. Every once in a while she does read one of my columns.
My thoughts turned in this direction because she has been gone almost a week now. She and two friends from the neighborhood went off for a week at the beach. My neighbor Russ agreed to be their driver, host and bartender.
In fact it was Russ’ idea for the trip (there’s a birthday involved). So I have had the week off, as it were.
Needless to say, I am getting weary of bumping into the furniture with no one to provide directions.
So I have spiffed up the place, all spic and also span. I won’t have to say anything. But she will have certainly noticed the housekeeping. Just my way of saying, “I missed you.”
And so it goes, not game perhaps, not set, but certainly a match.