Marriage is full of many traps. In fact, some might say that marriage itself is a trap; I’ve heard rumors that there is a story circulating in some corners of the world regarding free milk and a cow, but of course I’m not familiar with that story myself, and I can assure you that under no circumstances would I ever subscribe to it’s agenda, nor would I issue a melancholy laugh if anyone ever related it to me.
No, marriage itself is a wonderful thing. But there are some parts of it that take some getting used to. Like talking to your wife.
I’ll be blunt: there’s no talking to Catherine. It just can’t be done. Every conversation is like walking through a minefield, tip-toeing along while you wait for the bomb to explode. Because you know it’s just a matter of time before it will. Women will tell you that they always want you to be honest with them, and yet, I’m still searching for the correct way to do that. The truth may very well set you free, but it also has the very real potential to blow your foot off.
The core of the problem is that women do this thing they call “reading between the lines”. I’ve tried to do this myself, but all I ever see is blank space. I personally don’t think they see anything either, but it gives them a good excuse to “read” something into everything and twist it around to mean something completely different.
Take, for instance, the subject of cooking. On this topic I have to say – truthfully – that Catherine does a pretty good job overall. But not always. And on those occasions when the meal that she has prepared is, shall we say, something that I would not order twice at a restaurant (and in some cases, something that would result in harsh words and possible fisticuffs with the chef), I am presented with a dilemma for which there is no way out; a true “marriage trap”.
Try to tell her the truth – that you didn’t like it – and KABOOM!, she melts under a cascade of tears and suddenly you’re doing some serious time on the couch (the number of nights in direct proportion to how long it took her to prepare the offending meal). As bad as that is, however, the alternative, while not as immediately painful, has long term consequences that are just as devastating.
Because while she may be pleased when she sees you choke down the meal with a smile on your face and then tell her how much you liked it (while she remains blissfully ignorant the whole time to the beads of sweat running down your face), the problem is that she will think that you actually did like it. And so, completely oblivious to the fact that you normally don’t drink 8 glasses of water with your dinner, she will “make a note of it”. Which means that she will cook it for you again.
For the rest of your life.
And may the good Lord help you if she ever finds out some years down the line (after cooking this tripe for you dozens & dozens of times) that you don’t like it and never did. We’re not talking “couch time” anymore, gentlemen; we’re talking Motel-6.**
Then there is the infamous “hairdo” trap. In the early years of our marriage, I naively thought I could lick this trap by simply checking Catherine’s calendar to find out when she had a hair appointment, because - apt pupil that I am - I learned early on that when she comes home from the hairdresser, you sure as heck better notice something. But I learned just as quickly that it doesn’t matter what you say; you’re a dead man either way.
If you make a big deal about how much you love her new hairdo, what you are in effect doing (and this is where her ability to “read between the lines” kicks in) is telling her that you never really liked her previous hairdo, and in fact, had been lying when you told her that you had really loved it and had perpetuated that lie daily in all the weeks or months since.
The only other alternatives are to tell her that you don’t like it (duuuude, I really hope you like that couch), or, reverting back to your natural primal instincts, just don’t notice it at all, which, as previously stated, is just plain ignorant.
Such a perplexing puzzle is this “hairdo” dilemma, that I have even sought Biblical guidance in my efforts to try and solve it. Knowing that Solomon was the wisest man in history, I recently opened my Bible to “Song of Solomon” and pored over his words carefully - looking for anything that might help me - and found what I thought was the answer in Chapter 4, verse 2.
And so, the next time Catherine came home from the beauty parlor, I rushed up to her and - feeling more confident than I had in years - excitedly blurted out, “Hi honey, your hair looks like a flock of goats!”.
I’m not sure how well that line worked for good ole’ Solomon, but I’ll give you 3 guesses as to how well it worked for me. And I just don’t understand it either; I mean, this guy had like a thousand wives. How could that line not work? Unless the chicks just didn’t care what he said because he was the richest man on the face of the planet. Hmmmm. Maybe if I could get my hands on a whole lot of money . . .
In the meantime though, as far as my wife is concerned, well, there’s no talking to her.
It just can’t be done.
** There is actually one way out of this particular trap, and while I should charge money for sharing this intellectual property that took me years to attain myself, since it is my sincere wish that the bloodletting would stop in marriages everywhere, I will give it to you for free. The trick is to tell your wife that you love the meal, but within the hour become violently sick to your stomach “from something else.” (Anything will do here; bad wine, moldy Twinkies, etc.,). The next time she intends to cook the same thing, feign a nauseas reaction and tell her that you can’t eat it because your body has mentally linked that particular meal with your previous “sickness” (she’ll believe this because women are into that whole “mental” thing). And be sure to make a really big deal about what a shame it is that you’ll never be able to eat it again since it will always have the stigma of that involuntary reaction attached to it. Genius, I know. And while I still haven’t figured out the whole “hairdo” thing, take heart in the fact that I am working on it.