Later this week my wife and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary. Forty-three years!
Forty-three years ago I couldn't imagine being married for 43 years, but here we are.
I will be the first to admit that I "married up." How I ended up with this beautiful gal I'll never know. God's blessing is the only answer I can give.
It's been a great 43 years and I have learned a lot of things along the way. It is the job of every bride to train her groom and I have been trained.
Among the things I have learned from 43 years of marriage communications.
I have learned that a man must modify his inborn communication style when communicating with his wife. Years ago my wife and I participated in a 13-week "marriage enrichment" program.
At dinner one evening we told our adolescent children about the previous night's lesson. We were taught that in marital communication a partner can say something intending it to be a pebble but the other partner hears it as a boulder.
At lunch the next Saturday I made a comment intended to be heard as a pebble. My wife's reaction quickly told me it was not heard as a pebble. Our matter-of-fact son calmly observed, "Dad, I think you just dropped a boulder."
Our daughter is a college professor in Wisconsin. One of the classes she teaches deals with the differences in male and female communication. She tells us that she uses her parents as examples in her lessons, but won't share any more details.
Over the years I have surely given her ample fodder for her lessons.
Another thing I have learned: women can drive a car from the passenger seat better than men can from the driver's seat. Virtually every married man I have discussed this with tells the same story: their wives insist on telling them how to drive.
After several "discussions" on this matter, my wife is trying hard not to be a passenger seat driver but I can tell it is difficult for her. With her body language and breathing rhythm she can shout, "Holy cow, you just missed hitting that car!" better than some women can with a full voice.
Back when we were dating and still enjoying the benefits of an unobstructed full bench seat, she must have been more focused on deflecting my moves than she was with my driving. Come to think of it, I don't recall her complaining about either.
Yet another thing I have learned: when you ask a woman what's bothering her and she says, "Nothing," you can bet your life that it is "something." Nothing doesn't mean nothing in wifely jargon and it's a husband's job to determine with no further evidence if this nothing is worth pursuing.
Someone (I have no idea who) once said, "If you want your wife to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say, talk in your sleep." My wife tells me whenever I talk in my sleep she is frustrated because I don't speak clearly enough. She said the other night I was hollering loudly, pounding my fist on the mattress and even cursed in my sleep. She wanted to know what I was so upset about. I had no idea.
My wife was a stay-at-home mom when our son and daughter were younger. We agreed on most aspects of parenting, but she had problems with our 4-year-old son's smart (aleck) remarks. Having been punished in school for things I said trying to be funny but not disrespectful, I found our son's remarks to be creative. From then on when the boy made such a remark she would grit her teeth, flash me a brown-eyed dagger and facetiously say, "He's just being creative."
While I enjoy telling stories about 43 years of marriage, I'd do it all over again in a flash. In a world that demands perfection you come to learn that perfection is the enemy of excellence. Author and philosopher Sam Keen put it this way: "You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly."