I am in bed. It is 8:30am. I’ve just finished writing an article when my wife knocks on the door.
“Yes!” I say.
She enters and begins with a terse voice. I still have not taken my eyes off the laptop screen, but in my guts I am bracing myself for trouble.
“Ayay, yay-yay! What have I done wrong?” I think to myself with apprehension.
I tell her: “Just a minute, I am nearly finished.”
She sits on the side of the bed in anticipation, while I edit the last sentence of my writing. I still have not looked up from the computer.
“OK,” I say, as I get out of bed. Now we both stand. Her facial expression is as terse as her voice.
She begins: “I want to run this by you. I will get a bed for the other room.”
I am relieved, she did not come to see me because I am in trouble. At least not yet.
But I think she is in trouble with me because, once again, she is putting a unilateral decision to me.
So I reply: “You mean, you would like to get a bed for the other room and you want to consult me about this?”
“No,” She says even more tersely. “I will get another bed for that room because the one there is not big enough for the boys and girlfriends when they come up here. What I wanted to tell you is that I will repaint that room, so the furniture has to be moved. I need your help for that.”
“Sure,” I say, resigning to being subjected to another fait accompli.
Or, maybe I should welcome her initiative and say: “Well darling, I congratulate you on your thoughtfulness. You care so much for our home and the kids. That’s wonderful. I mean, if we are to make our place updated to respond to changing needs, at least one of us has to be domestically minded and I am afraid that one does not tend to be me.”
But I do not think of those thoughts, nor do I speak them out loud.
She takes me to the bedroom in question and continues her verbal march.
“I want to move this second table into the other boy’s room and get rid of the table there.”
“But this leaves me only one table to work on when I use the room as my office!” I retort.
“One table will be enough for you,” she says.
Maybe it will be enough, I think; she is once again ahead of me.
“I’ll put this table in front of the window,” she says.
“No,” I put my foot down, “if you move the table away from the wall, things will fall on the ground. I find it hard enough to keep things on the table even with its back against the wall. I am not going to constantly fish for things on the floor behind a free standing table.”
Now my other half is tensing up even more.
“Nothing will fall on the ground, don’t create problems,” she says in a near shouting voice.
“Relax!” I shout back, not exactly in a relaxed way.
“But you once again create a conflict!” she complains exasperatedly.
“It’s not a conflict, just a different point of view. There is no need for conflict; calm down!” I answer, not in the calmest of manners.
“And I am going to paint the wall white.”
“No worries,” I reply, now with a totally calm voice.
She knows she could paint the room purple or use Disney’s Micky Mouse wall paper for all my aesthetic enthusiasm for our walls.
“You should have the other room as your office, it is just as nice.”
“No,” I say, “it is much darker.”
“Only when the blinds are down,” she retorts.
So I pull the blinds up. The sunshine floods the room. Well, she is right again!
The Serenity Prayer comes to my mind: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Except that, from now on, my prayer is: “God grant me the serenity to accept that I cannot change others; the courage to change myself; and the wisdom to remember this.”
After all, it is not in vain that I wrote this poem:
‘Love Your Enemy!’
I’ve been married to the same wife for forty-two years,
By divorcing me from myself many times, with lots of tears.
I hope that one day, I’ll divorce no more,
For I will have found my very own core.
That core of love from where I can love my enemy,
My worst enemy, who, of course, is me.
When I can take good care of this enemy,
Calling my wife an enemy will sound like a blasphemy.
For if I can sense my nonsense and give myself a break,
Then putting up with my wife’s nonsense will be a piece of cake.
For what has hitherto seemed like nonsense,
May by then just appear as common sense.
How do you handle differences in your relationship? Can you relate to Andris’ poem?
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