3/3 In a Series I Won’t Write about
March 1, 2008
One of the jokes I told her was about how my wife and I are incompatible. I said, “When people become romantically involved, they are in a ‘honeymoon’ situation. They think everything about the lover is wonderful. Then if they are together for a long time (married or not), they encounter differences and disagreements. The real test is if they can survive the conflicts.
“If I were running a ‘dating service,’ I would require people to have a big fight in the first month they are ‘going together’ so they can see if they are really compatible.”
Mary agreed that a pre-marital fight would be a good idea.
“My wife has a very bad temper. I also have a very bad temper. We agree with five acres of woods, whoever kills the other one first has to bury the dead spouse. My wife says I am safe because she can’t dig a hole deep enough to bury me.
“My wife got a job on the island. She was chosen from 80 applicants. We thought we were very lucky. But then one of her co-workers proved to be a very bad employee. This co-worker didn’t do much work. She gossiped to the boss about the other workers not doing their work. My wife hates work, but she is a very hard worker. (Instead of working she likes to ‘putter’ at home. If anyone else saw her puttering at home they would think she is working very, very hard.) My wife couldn’t stand having a co-worker who wouldn’t work. I said, ‘You will lose your temper and get fired.” So my wife quit her job before she lost her temper and puttered happily at home for a while. But she kept reading the want ads, looking for a part time job. My wife is a very responsible person and she knows we need the money. Especially now that I might get fired.
“When I told my wife I was in trouble on my job, she said, ‘I told you to be more careful and more obedient and more respectful.’
“I said, ‘You were right. You did tell me. Except it is impossible to do my job now.’
“She said, ‘You should do it anyway.’
“My wife applied for a job at a horse ranch. The job involves office work, not taking care of horses. The ranch provides therapy for troubled youths (and a few troubled adults). The therapy involves riding horses.
“My wife went for an interview. She said to me, ‘They want a lot of different things. I am not sure I can do everything they want. I am not sure this would be a good job for me.’ [My wife always wants to be perfect at everything she does. She can’t stand to be sloppy or careless or faulty in any work she does.]
“My wife said, ‘I don’t know if I will bother to send a follow-up letter.’
“I said, ‘We always send follow-up letters after applying for a job, thanking them for the interview. Not getting a follow-up letter is the easiest way to weed out applicants. You don’t have to take the job if you don’t want it, but let them make the decision if they want to offer it.’ [I thought my wife was trying to subvert her chance of getting the job.]
“My wife said, ‘I don’t know the last name of the person who interviewed me.’
“I said, ‘Call and ask the last name.’
“My wife said, ‘That would look really dumb.’
“I said, ‘I forget names all the time. I used to be embarrassed. Now I say, “I am really dumb. You just told me your name and I forgot it. Please tell me your name again.” People are usually appreciative that I am honest and that I care enough to try and get the name right.
“My wife said, “I don’t feel I can write a long flowery letter about how excited I am over the job and what a wonderful job I can do.
“I said, ‘Just say, “Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the job.”’ If Random Granddaughter was served a nice meal and didn’t want to eat it, but took two bites and said, ‘Thank you for dinner’ with a sulky look on her face without being prompted we would think, Those are very good manners for a four-year-old little girl and we wouldn’t get upset because she didn’t smile make an effusive speech about how wonderful dinner was. If you send a very plain letter, they will think, At least she knows how to be polite and they won’t refuse to consider you even if you aren’t effusive.
“So after 42 years of marriage we still keep fighting,” I said to Mary. “But we haven’t killed each other or divorced each other because we argue and criticize each other.” Mary laughed at my joke. She is very polite.
We expressed sympathy for each other’s plight and headed for our respective homes.