Friday, May 30, 2008
She Decides, I Abide
My parents argued an awful lot. Even when they weren’t arguing, there was too often a palpable air of cold hostility around the house.
My wife and I never argue. Well, almost never. Nor are we, I venture to boast, storing up grievances and recriminations for later use—like maybe in divorce court.
What’s the secret?
As I wrote in my book's final chapter, “Happy-Ever-Aftering Takes Work”:
“At some point… I stopped arguing with my wife. Not all at once, and not without occasional blowups or fits of masculine pique, but gradually I began accepting what we had both known for years—that things work out better when we do them her way.”
Here’s how another husband puts it: “I no longer mind that she is so often right. I can deal with it—happily, in fact.”
And another: “I have found that not bickering is a refreshing way to live. It's about deferring to her.”
And finally: “We get along really well because there is no power struggle.”
It’s even scriptural, according to St. Paul’s injunction (1 Cor. 1:10): "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing; and there be no dissensions among you, but that you be perfectly united in one mind and in one judgment."
But there’s another aspect to this.
Like TV's Judge Judy, my wife is a wise and practical woman, in touch with her standard of values, capable of weighing evidence and reaching sound decisions, and doing so in the heat of controversy. On the fly, if need be.
Whereas I vacillate, hem and haw between “the one hand” and “on the other.”
This is why, when the kids ask me for stuff, or to do stuff, the best answer is almost always, “Ask your mother.” She’ll not only know the answer, she’ll be able to say it without equivocation. Even if I think I know the answer, I may be too spineless or conciliatory to say it.
Now this is not necessarily a bad thing. I know my limitations, and the kids know them, too. If it was just the three of us, we’d be living in a chaotic house, without rules. But we all three know that Mother Knows Best, she makes the rules and will enforce them.
That creates order in the home, as well as harmony, domestic tranquility.
Of course, the kids sometimes challenge the rightness of her decisions, though in the end they know she will prevail. I have learned not to challenge, not only because I know she will win, but because I know she is right.
She decides, and I abide by her decisions.
A final note: Right now there’s a point of contention between my wife and me, concerning something I want to do, which will cost money, and which she opposes. She’s right on principle and practicality.
And yet, I’ve been pleading my case, being as persuasive as I can, and recently she emailed back to me, “You’re getting to me.”
So she will entertain my objections, and listen. And she may even alter her decision in my favor. But, ultimately, I know, and she knows, and we all know, that it will no longer be my decision at that point, but hers.
She’s the decider, I’m the abider.