Kent and I read an article a couple of years ago (which I now cannot locate) that encouraged couples to share “the goods” at the end of the day instead of “the news”. The advice was for couples to talk about what positive things had happened that day, “the goods”, for at least 15 minutes before launching into a laundry list of woes.
I was once in a carpool with a husband and wife who had clearly never read this article. Every day, the moment the wife got into the car, the husband vomitted up all the frustrations of his day on her lap. Forty-five minutes later, when I exited the car, he would still be whining, she would still be staring out the window, possibly waiting for her turn. Does it shock you that I didn’t much like this fellow? His wife didn’t seem to enjoy his company much either.
So what do you do when your spouse asks, “How was your day?” and the truth is “craptacular”? I find it best to skip the value-laden questions and just ask, “So what happened to you today?”
I’ve realized, however, that “the goods” is something more than just the “not bads”. There are a number of things that I care about that my husband doesn’t want to hear about in his first quarter of an hour at home. In an effort to further improve the quality of my marriage and marital conversations, I am learning to avoid or at least delay certain subjects:
I cannot tell you how many times I used to lead with a detailed description of the exact quantity and quality of the diapers I changed that day. But twins are so interesting! I feed them exactly the same stuff, and one of them turns it into gritty cement while the other turns it into odorless Cocoa Puffs pellets. I’m pretty sure this is objectively fascinating information. I mean, you’re reading it and thinking, “That’s amazing, Heather. Tell me more,” right? Oh, you’re not? But sometimes there’s a momentous event. If Hiroshima happened while you were out, you’d want to know about it, wouldn’t you? No? Oh.
Well, it’s true that I want to know nothing about what happened in the bathrooms at work, so I suppose that’s fair. I can just imagine Kent reading this now saying, “Honey, why are you talking about it on your blog? That’s 10 times worse than telling me.” It’s fine, Babe. I’m talking about it in the guise of what you’re not supposed to talk about. This is totally working for all involved. Alrighty, moving on.
2. What happened on The Bachelor
“Guess what! Sweet, boring Sean had another sweet, boring date with a sweet, boring girl and gave out a pity rose.” Actually, an account of anything that happened between the channels of 58 to 62 inclusive is pretty much guaranteed to make him log into Battlefield 3 faster than Teresa Giudice can flip a table. (Yes, I fully realize how many seasons ago that was, but the table flipping is iconic and, therefore, timeless.)
3. I had the most awesome nap!
Shhhh! The afternoon nap is something he must never know about. Better to talk about #1 (which is really #2, get it?) than give him the impression that you sometimes have the opportunity to sleep during the day–that is, if you ever want him to take your concerns seriously again.
But what if it totally affects you both like this amazing bathroom tile photo you pinned that you’re hoping to use in the next house? He needs to see and approve of this tile. If he doesn’t, it’s like he just doesn’t care about your marriage or your future. Not really. Somehow he manages to care about you whilst remaining totally indifferent to glass tile patterns.
5. His “Honey Do” list
“Welcome home, Honey. Didyoucalltheinsuranceguy?” Give him 15 minutes to enjoy the illusion that he’s off duty before you put him back to work. If my DH came in the door at night during my me time and tried to hand me another baby to care for, I would kill him with my secret ninja moves from the government. He would be dead before he hit the floor.
6. How much you saved at the mall today
I know it seems like an interesting presentation. You’ve done the coupon math. You have visual aids: ”Exhibit A: This 5T cardigan. How much would you expect to pay for this? Forty dollars? Forty-five dollars? Nooooo….” You’ve distilled the savings into three clear and compelling graphs which represent how efficiently you’re spending the money. He should not only be interested, he should stand up and applaud your ingenuity. But he won’t. He won’t because the word “mall” flips his brain to an entirely different channel that only plays old SNL skits. He’s not listening because he can’t.
7. This post
“Hello, Honey. Didyoureadmyblogtoday?” He does care, and he will read it if he hasn’t yet, but he already worries that you might be more in love with your blog than him. It’s like saying, “Hello, Honey. Don’t you think Clive Owen is hot? I think he might be taller than you, too.” Give the man a chance to be the center of your attention for a few minutes. You can always blog about him behind his back later. I do.