I never dreamed of being a June bride—in fact, based on my dating record, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be a bride no matter what time of year—that is, until the blind date of all blind dates. To start with, I wasn’t consulted as to if I wanted a date, but one of my co-workers told her fiancé that if he brought a friend, she thought she could fix him up. They showed up at my apartment, unannounced, and introduced me to this very interesting looking guy, who presented me with a “gift” (based on the suggestion of my friend). The six-pack part was on target, but Schlitz? The gift gave me a clue that his looks weren’t the only interesting thing. So I went from no consideration of marriage, to dating someone who proposed two weeks into the courtship, to our wedding, four days short of the one-year anniversary of our meeting.
We are all aware of the differences between the sexes, and those differences hit you full-force once the honeymoon is over. Society makes us believe that men and women can live continuously in harmony and communion. Often in marriage, we suppose the romance of it all will mean that we can expect the opposite sex to think, feel or act the way we do. Of course, believing that is dangerous. We just need to understand the ways we are different and avoid trying to change others to suit our needs. To get along, we must accept, expect and respect these differences. You sort of build up some sort of tolerance to those things you aren’t crazy about and then pick your battles—there is no ruler in a marriage, there are just partners.
Most people are control freaks—admit it or not—so it is no wonder that our relationships have difficulties. I think it was sometime after the third decade of wedded bliss that I discovered ways to handle my control issues…well, sort of.
Driving: Both of us are good drivers, but different. My problem is that I want to help him (as in avoid collisions), so I point out dangers he might not see. The problem is that my reaction time is faster, so while I am pointing out the danger, he is in the process of seeing it himself, so he thinks that what I am saying has to do with some additional danger. It causes some problem, which for many years, he dealt with by pulling over and telling me to drive. That caused a different type of road rage, so he came up with a solution: when I see something, I can point, but not talk. It works sometimes, except when he doesn’t notice the pointing.
That brings me to another difficult thing as we grow older—hearing loss. It is almost impossible to talk while driving and when I do, he takes his eyes off the road and looks at me and asks me what I said. Of course, at that, I am saying quite loudly, “Keep your eyes on the road,” and so it goes. I am thinking about getting one of those My Lil’ Reminder gadgets so I can just record what I am saying and then, when he says, “What?” I will put it next to his ear, play it back and save some energy and frustration on my part.
A rather amusing hearing mishap occurred one day when I told him I was going into the next room to practice my tap dancing. I wondered why he followed me and sat down with obvious anticipation. What he thought he heard was that I was going to practice lap dancing. What a dreamer…
Most men complain that women are always trying to change them, and women complain that men don’t listen. If that is happening at the same time, you can see why men never change…It is a narrow road that each of the sexes walks. Men rarely talk about their problems unless they are seeking “expert” advice; asking for help when you can do something yourself is a sign of weakness. Too bad, because women see offering help as a sign of strength—it is caring to give support. When women talk to men about their problems, they want support and empathy, yet men usually offer solutions and often feel responsible or to blame for women’s problems.
My husband retired several years ago and willingly took over many of the household chores. When that happens, you face the ultimate “letting it go.” He does not do things the way I do, but that is when the humor of it all kicks in and we try to keep it light. Okay, so what if we get some sort of bacterial infection from putting the washed dishes in the next sink before drying them with a dirty dish towel? Or how about ignoring the dust pan when sweeping the kitchen, and, instead, opening the door and sweeping the dirt onto the basement steps—that one really sends me into deep breathing. The list could get really long—I don’t even want to think about the remote control—but remember, the interesting thing is what initially attracted me.
The gifts I have received over the years have evolved into gift cards, once it was established that household appliances are not necessarily real gifts unless he wanted me to receive them at my bridal shower for the second husband. I still allow the original gift to be repeated, but at least he now brings me Miller Lite… TPW