written by Nancy Malcolm
He was reclining in the usual spot on the couch, CNN news looping the same stories they reported yesterday when I apparently ghosted in and sat down.
“Oh! You scared me!” he said.
“We need to talk,” I said.
“Okaaaaaaaay,” he replied, and his face went ashen.
I’m sure he did a quick inventory to see if he had done anything wrong or blatantly irresponsible. “I’ll put my lunch dishes in the dishwasher, he said, ” Don’t worry.”
“Would you please at least pause the T.V. so we can talk?” I asked.
And that’s when it happened. He rolled his eyes, not at me directly, but because they were facing the T.V., I saw it from the side. My sixty-two-year-old husband is really a twelve-year-old in disguise.
He paused the T.V. but his body stayed reclined. Facing forward, he glanced in my direction, hoping that would be enough.
“Could you at least turn this way so we can see each other?”
He shifted my way but I could tell he was not in the mood for a serious discussion. We’ve known each other long enough for us both to know the signs, and there are always signs.
Oh sure, I knew better than to lead off with “We need to talk.” I knew other tools to use, ways to incorporate less threatening phrases, but it jumped out of my mouth, flew out into the air and landed in his space. Ooops there it is.
And this is where my story takes a surprising turn. I felt a tap on my shoulder. I heard a clap of thunder, metaphorically speaking. Suddenly, in a blinding light of clarity, I had an epiphany or as a friend of mine says; a talk with Tiffany.
I realized we had been in this exact place many times before. I say ‘we need to talk.’ He rolls his eyes. I get upset and he gets defensive. It was about to be a lose-lose situation. What I needed to talk about had been talked about before and so it would probably be filed in his ‘nagging’ folder, never to be seen again. I knew I had a choice to make: same old-same old or something new,
I had wanted to have Talk #32: You never say anything sweet to me anymore. You never compliment me or say words of affirmation. I would quote from Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages and end with guilt. “I always try to say sweet things to YOU….” No wonder the man’s eyes glaze over right before he rolls them. I had too many ‘always’ and ‘nevers,’ and I heard myself plain as day, the voice from Charlie Brown: “WaaaWaaaaaaWaaaa”
As if on cue, I saw his baby blues lock in on me. I remembered that earlier that day he had watered all the outside plants and vacuumed out my car. He was home, not out gambling. And, I had no doubt that he would put his lunch dishes in the dishwasher.
Sometimes God does for you what you cannot seem to do for yourself, and as I looked at my husband my mouth opened and out came, “I just wanted to tell you thank you for vacuuming out my car. That was so sweet of you.”
I felt my eyes widen and I couldn’t believe my ears, but I tried to act cool and nonchalant.
For a few seconds, he stared at me, then said, “Is that it?”
“Yes. Thank you, honey. It means a lot.”
“Okaaaaaay. You’re welcome.”
And with that, I patted his leg and said, “Carry-on, Boo.” I turned to leave the room and I heard Wolf Blitzer’s voice starting up and the recliner go back a little farther. I know his eyes never left the screen, but as I walked away he called, “Love you”
“Love you too,” I answered, and I meant it.