No, I’m not writing about my wife talking back to me, but rather giving her a chance to speak her mind after all these columns in which I’ve spoken for her. To be fair (to me), I always run any column about her, by her, before publication. That doesn’t mean I make any changes, but at least she has seen it. Just kidding. I do make changes she requests. But, what I don’t do is “change” my behavior as much as she’d like. So, that will be some of the focus of this interview:
Me: So, honey, this is your chance to publicly clear the record, state your case, and have your voice heard (as a guest on my radio show, too), published, and otherwise represented. Where would you like to start?
Wife: Thank you dear, for the chance to correct all the misconceptions and complete inaccuracies you’ve written and talked about me.
Me: Of course, darling. Please continue.
Wife: First of all, I am not near as compulsive as you represent me to be. I am a typical woman who cares about cleanliness, order, and manners in a fashion that every home requires.
Me: But, do you really need the white gloves to check if the counters have been cleaned well enough by our older son (as this is one of his chores)?
Wife: I don’t use white gloves. It’s easy enough to see the mess he’s left behind with my fingers. I’ve taught the boys the value of doing regular chores, how to use their utensils, and do other things they’ll need when they leave, like cooking and laundry. These are things you neglected to teach them.
Me: What is this about their leaving?
Wife: You know exactly what I mean. After high school, they are going to have to TCB (take care of business) and either go to college or get a job and live on their own. That is teaching them responsibility and not enabling them any more than you’ve already done.
Me: Don’t you think you’re just slightly exaggerating when you characterize my parenting as “enabling?”
Wife: What do you call doing their homework for them until high school, being that obnoxious sidelines coach you always are, taking videos and photos of everything they do, and lionizing them in every Tweet, blog, and “A Dad’s Point-of-View” column you write?
Me: (sheepishly) I call that fatherly love.
Wife: No, it’s enabling. Let’s move on and talk about how hard it’s been for me to join this family.
Me: It’s been hard?
Wife: (frustrated) Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. Who had to move 50 miles from her life and home in the city? Who had to become step-mom to two teenage boys? Who had to commute, after the move, an hour and a half each way to work? Who has to do most of the cooking, the laundry, and house cleaning?
Me: Hey, I go to CostCo!
Wife: Yeah, to buy beer, tech stuff and boy toys. I do the heavy shopping. Okay, I’ll admit you are the SAHD and do the majority of the kid schlepping, but in the winter you’re skiing half the time, leaving me with everything to do.
Me: C’mon, sweetiepie, I don’t ski that much and you know it.
Wife: You call 30-40 days a season not much?
Me: Yeah, I’ve been hoping to get 50 days in!
Wife: (sigh) Set, point, match. As usual, you open your mouth and magic comes out, just confirming my assertion.
Me: Well, dearest, you’ve been slightly negative so far. How about a couple of positive things…(waiting)…one?
Me: Didn’t we have a great honeymoon?
Wife: Yes, we did, but a honeymoon does not a marriage make. I really do love you, Bruce, love your boys, love our dogs (all three of them), love our life, but I’m tired, really tired.
Me: You’ve often said to me, “Happy wife; Happy life.” What can I do to make you happier and ease some of the burden you’re apparently feeling, and help with this tired feeling?
Wife: I am happy and I really do love you and the boys. Maybe, please, could you not leave your dirty dishes in the sink? Could you make the bed once in a while. I know you don’t like all those pillows I like, but would you do it for me, please? And, while you complain that I leave the lights on “all” the time, maybe relax a bit and stop exaggerating?
Me: (with a smile on my face) And, I love you too, honey, and our blended life together. As I often say, quoting Dennis Prager, “Gratitude IS the key to happiness” and I’m grateful every day to have had the good fortune of meeting you and having you in our lives. But, you do leave the lights on ALL the time.
Wife: (laughs, sighs, and reaches over and gives Bruce a kiss)