Next month I will be leading a marriage workshop here in Ecuador. I haven’t been the perfect husband, though, and I am concerned about running afoul of the whole speck/log notion. Therefore, I am freely confessing to having made a few mistakes during my nearly 21 years of marriage. Arranged thematically yet randomly, here are my most egregious errors.
For our 10th anniversary, I bought Stacy a great camera. I arranged for a surprise wedding vow renewal complete with a collage of photos and a cake decorated with an icing duplicate of one of our wedding photos. Tons of friends came to celebrate with us late into the evening.
Unless I manage to take Stacy on a spacecruise on the resurrected and retro-fitted Titanic with Moses and Ruth providing stand-up comedy routines in sign language every night, I am never, ever going to top our 10th anniversary.
When we first married, my wife was an enthusiastic yet clueless cook. She looked up recipes for scrambled eggs. She prepared pineapple-chicken cake and hotdog tacos. One evening, I arrived home to discover she had made french onion soup. This is a light, brothy soup meant to be poured over and around a chunk of toasted french bread in a wide, shallow bowl. To my non-soup eating wife, it made far more sense to toast the entire loaf of bread and put it into the soup all at once. I managed to hide my emotions right up until the moment I referred to the “vat of french onion loaf in the oven.” She hasn’t made it since.
-Playfully spewing a mouthful of a new recipe across the table in order to convince her that it was terrible when, in fact, I really liked it. Hasn’t cooked it since.
-Failing to finish off the tater-tot casserole in a timely fashion because I was trying to keep up with all her new recipes. Hasn’t cooked it since.
-Assuming that she knew what part of a bovine is in view when one is eating calf fries (mountain oysters, cowboy caviar, Montana tendergroin, swinging beef, etc). The residents of Dalhart, Texas are still talking about that deaf lady who beat the stuffing out of her boyfriend because he callously shared his lunch with her.
Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.
I’ve always enjoyed playing games and competing, but I made the mistake of thinking that competition is for fun. In making this assumption, I failed to consider my wife’s perspective.
Stacy plays to crush the hopes and dreams of her opponents, their pets, and their unborn offspring. She flashes gang symbols and shrieks, “BOO-YAH!!” when beating our 8-year old at Scrabble. She once cheated me at cards and threw an entire cup of water at my head when I called her on it. Her victory dances are over-the-top celebrations of self, especially when she makes me video them. She made me wear a bathrobe to grad school one day as a result of a bet on the NCAA men’s basketball championship. She has been known to tear up papers that display a losing score for her. If she wins just one game out of a five-game round of Spades, she declares herself champion. At her urging, we’ve placed spurious bets on what time we’ll arrive at Grandmas’s, whether the new baby will sleep all night, if there’s an email from her mother, how late the plane will arrive, and how wrong I’ll probably be during our dinner with friends.
I selfishly failed to realize her view of things, and I am working to make amends.
We are the proud parents of three precocious progeny. Preceding their entry into the world, of course, Stacy experienced the usual swelling. Mistakes that I may have made during those beautiful, hormone-filled days:
-Frequent use of the word “waddle.” The sign for it is pretty picturesque.
-Failed to prepare supper early enough – 4:15. I would guess my real failure was having a job that did not end until 5:00.
-Touched the remote without permission.
-Cooked one of her favorite meals on a night of olfactory hypersensitivity. We haven’t eaten Tex-Mex Pie since.
-Called her “Madam Ovary.”
-Questioned exactly what percentage of her weight gain was actually the baby itself.
-Sniffed at her.
Words do not suffice.
The mistakes I’ve made in this realm are quite literally too numerous to list on this server. When one travels as much as we have in our two decades together, the errors are bound to add up. Choosing some of the greatest hits is not easy, but I’ll do my best.
1. I admit that I do not pack more than 3 shirts for a two-day trip. I am a scoflaw who willfully ignores Stacy’s insistence that I have at least 6 shirts for a weekend visit.
2. I have never packed my clothes more than 14 hours in advance of my trip, a clear violation of Stacy’s rule that all clothing must be in the suitcase by T-72 hours, even if it requires packing clothes I need to wear prior to the trip. Near-nakedness is preferable to unprepared packing.
3. I have always insisted that the contents of my bags weigh less than I do. That’s crazy talk, I know, but it’s who I am. Sorry, babe.
4. I have stubbornly held to the proper view of carry-on luggage: these are small bags traditionally used for things that you need to carry on to an airplane. Fragile items, a change of clothes, and magazines usually fall into this category. Stacy, on the other hand, views carry-on luggage as being essentially identical to checked luggage, except for the fact that we (I) have to stow it. This would not be a problem were it not for the fact that she’s figured out that no one weighs carry-on luggage! On our last family flight, one of my carry-on pieces outweighed a checked bag. That’s right: a small duffel bag weighed over 50 pounds, and I whined about having to haul it through airports and down aisles.
Whew! Now I can non-hypocritically lead our marriage workshop.