Monday, January 31, 2011

Life on the couch

I slept on the couch last night.  One could take this figuratively as in ‘ “I was up shit creek without a paddle” but in this case one should take it literally.  I was on the couch last night.   Any man who is or has been married knows why.

My wife is a remarkable women.   She is sensitive, giving, loving and supportive.  She is old fashioned in the best possible ways.  Her hobbies include gardening and antiques and our home and garden are tributes to her impeccable taste.   She is a magnificent cook.  She uses cloth napkins and always lights candles at dinner.  She is a devoted and creative mother.  When the children were young she started throwing May Day parties complete with may pole.  She held Beatrice Potter readings where, a slim women, she donned pillow fat pads to dress up as Beatrice.   She celebrated Santa Lucia for the second grade.  She had Scarecrow stuffing get togethers for the third  grade which left the front yard strewn with hay.   She did this all through my children’s elementary school years and they were so successful that parents and teachers begged her to continue them.  Now. with our children far too old for them, she still does. 

Generosity and cheeer are part of her DNA.  Anyone who has ever worked at our house – carpenter, painter, pool cleaner, plumber – will drop everything if my wife calls.   Sometimes they’ll even do the job for free.   Everyone adores my wife.    Everyone.

Which makes me wonder why she married me.  

Where she is giving, I am oblivious and self-involved.   Where she is calm and patient, I have the patience of a brush fire.   My wife enjoys people.   Except for when it involves tennis, sex or drinking, I have never enjoyed the presence of anyone for more than 20 minutes at a time.   My wife likes company.  When it comes  to guests, I often leave the room until a modicum of manners – or my wife - forces me back.   I am solitary.  I am good at sullen brooding.  When my brain is not occupied with something active it starts to turn on itself out of boredom.   For which I’ll blame her.

My wife likes to recount the events of  her day in real time.   I like bullet points.  My wife’s sense of humor tends toward gently humorous anecdotes.   Mine runs to mean spirited sarcasm.   “No one finds that funny”, she says.  She’s wrong.  I do.

We come from different family backgrounds.   In my family, people could go from slightly irritated to spitting rage in a matter of moments.   It was often an emotional rugby scrum with everyone shouting at once.  It was over as quickly as it began, all of us immediately forgot about it and went about our business.   No big deal.  No hard feelings.  Wasn’t every family like this?   Apparently not.

In my wife’s family, a raised eyebrow could throw everyone – especially the women – into cold shouldered silence for a week.    At a Thanksgiving dinner one year, much to my amusement, my mother in law thought people were talking behind her back.  She got up from the dinner table, went into the bedroom, packed her things and taking her husband, went home.   Dinner was in Connecticut, home was Alaska.   

Needless to say, my wife does not like it when I yell.   Which I do.   Often.  Which means there are times she doesn’t like me.   Especially when we argue.

Don’t take it personally, I’ll say!!   

You’re shouting, she’ll say. 

You’re not listening to me, I’ll say!!  

I don’t listen to people who shout at me, she’ll say.

She is stubborn this way and it’s a problem because the things I’m shouting are correct and wise and if my wife would only listen, she would see this.    But she won’t and I’m not the type to repeat things to people who refuse to see how right I am.

My wife, on the other hand, speaks quietly and emphatically and should you disagree with what she’s saying, she’ll assume you misunderstood her and so she’ll say the same thing again in a slightly different way.    And should you continue to misunderstand her, she will keep repeating herselfand repeating herself  until you are either no longer ignorant or can no longer stand it.

I get it, I’ll say!  For God’s sakes, I get it!!!   

Do you, she’ll say?  Do you really?  

Yes, yes, I’ll say!  You’re right – whatever you want! 

For by this time, I have no idea what we were even arguing about.   All I know is the time I allocate to other people is up and I want to be alone now so I can brood in peace and quiet.

But because my wife is made this way, after an argument she wants to make sure we make up.   She wants a hug and kiss.  Which I find a problem because although I can forgive screaming and shouting, losing a winning argument because the other person stubbornly argues longer than I do, leaves a bitter taste in mouth.    

But of course, me not kissing and hugging and putting it behind us, means we will have another argument.   The whole thing will start again.

I was on the couch last night.   I was on the couch for the same reason I always am.   I snore.

Men live lives of quiet desperation.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, you are either going to be canonized for this or assassinated.

    Maybe both.

    Come to think of it, canonization is always posthumous.