Last month we provided our soaps as wedding favors for a young couple, soon to be married in April. Custom wedding favors aren't something we specialize in or will start specializing in. We don't do custom sizes, scents, colors, etc. This young couple was happy to order from the "regular menu." This young couple and their upcoming nuptials got me thinking of advice that I received or, more accurately, should have received before I married my first wife.
In the course of twenty years of marriage with my first wife, there have been some great mysteries that I believe should have been solved before marriage—for example, the mystery of the garbage can. The garbage is the treillage of all said mysteries. How did she get her garbage out before she met me? Backdating her current garbage removal abilities, it seems as if she should have been completely buried in the trash in her early twenties. Second, the science. How does she manage to squish so much into one little can? There are labs across the globe trying to do tests on creating matter that cannot compare to the density she achieves in our kitchen garbage can. She has created a new element, invented "she-matter," which has affected the earth's gravity. Finally, there is her retirement plan. Yes, it is good to save where you can. Perhaps the nickel saved on the garbage bags that may or may not make it out the door could foolishly be squandered in this case.
My first father-in-law was good enough to give me this little gem of advice when I asked for my wife's hand in marriage. His simple statement was, "Make your words sweet. You may have to eat them someday." I have applied this advice whenever the car mysteriously backs into things. There is no reason to get upset; no one was hurt, and if I make a fuss, I can guarantee I will do worse within a week. The slightest mention of the existence of a backup camera was never even mentioned more than once.
My advice to a young bridegroom would be to never, ever, ever do something better than your wife. Never. For instance, never make mashed potatoes better than your domestic partner. When we were first married, I thought I would be helpful in making meals and would volunteer to mash the potatoes and make the gravy. Little did I know this was a trap. I did my best at the job at hand and was rewarded with a lifetime of “Can you please make the mashed potatoes and gravy? You know you make the mashed potatoes and gravy better than me.” I would have made lumpy potato milk soup and burnt gravy if I had known then. I know that she knows that I know she can make mashed potatoes and gravy better than me.
Right up there with "You make the mashed potatoes and gravy" is "just eat the bacon." If your preference for bacon is two seconds away from burnt, but she makes it almost oinking, my advice is just to eat the damn bacon. Much like the mashed potatoes and gravy, if you decide to help and make the bacon the way you want it, you will be in charge of the bacon until the end of your days. It wouldn't be a bad trade-off except that she will insist that you fry her bacon to her specifications since “You have to cook your bacon anyway.”
Translating woman speak takes a doctorate degree in psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience and a doctorate in chemistry to understand referenced "she-matter." I am by no means a master of the English language. I think someone should write a book or have a class about how basic sayings can be the opposite of the actual meaning of the words used. Let us explore the many uses of the word fine.
"I'm Fine" is not to be confused with "I AM FINE" or the dreaded "Fine." "I'm fine" could be one of two mysterious woman meanings. The one to hope for is that she is busy. Hopefully, she is busy doing something she enjoys and is trying to stay focused. This version is the best. Option two is less desirable, and it means something is getting under her skin. More than likely, some minor infraction has been building and will continue to do so until you learn the art of mind reading or she snaps. The best course of action is to ensure you put the milk exactly where it belongs. Check the calendar for any important dates you may have missed. If the child is an option, consult your child and see if she has any leads. Walk on eggshells and be extra helpful until it passes. Under no circumstances take the easy way out and buy flowers or go out for a meal. That fix only lasts a couple of hours at best, making the situation worse and more prolonged. In addition, it encourages bad behavior and will only lead to more frequent occurrences.
"I'm fine" is not to be confused with "I Am Fine!" The translation of "I Am Fine!" means you are into one. If it is said through clenched teeth, hide. Although, it would be great to go with it and document the statement for the future so you could say, "I asked, and you said you were fine." However, the response would be, "You know what I meant!" Also spoken through clenched teeth. Apparently, men have the ability to read minds. Even though my first wife has expressed that she "Isn't a damn mind reader." The expectation for men to be mind readers is genuine. The only way of survival is to maintain a low profile and double up on helpfulness around the house. After a few days of doing the laundry, start to finish, and not just "sticking it in a damn basket." She will begin to think that making you disappear would result in more work for her. Whatever triggers her aggression will never entirely go away, but at least neither will you.
This leads us to the worst and final scenario when the word "Fine" is a one-word answer to your impending doom. "Fine!" translates into death, destruction, and the implosion of the world as you know it. This is the most dangerous of all responses. Often triggered by events that took place in the distant past that nobody but she can even remember. The reason for the trigger has scientists and researchers alike stumped. After three days of asking, "what is your malfunction?" expect to hear about the time twelve years ago when you peed a bit on the floor, and she stepped in it in the middle of the night. There is no fix for this. Ride it out; stay strong.
Now that we have covered all the dangers of the word "Fine," let us move on to the equally nefarious phrase, "What do you think?" Translation, "I have already made my mind up. I want you to agree with me so I can say you agreed with me later." In the first few years of marriage, you may think your opinion is valued under the literal meaning of this sentence. It is not. Do not argue unless it is something terrible. Not just what color to paint a room, but joining a cult horrible. The best response is, "Whatever you think." Uttering this simple phrase makes it seem as if you will agree if she has good opinions, not because you agree but because you have already surrendered. The response that seems good but will later bite you on the backside is, "I trust your opinion." Technically you have chosen to have trust in her opinion. If things don't work the way she envisioned, your trust is stupid because you are stupid. My advice is to accept that you are indeed stupid.
While we are discussing being stupid, do not fall into the trap of honesty. When my dear wife asks me, "Am I fatter than her?" I know I need to proceed with great caution. That's a question that can be answered with absolutely no hesitation. It doesn't matter if the woman in question is underweight. Scream "No!" as fast and as loudly as possible. I have given much thought to seeing men with lots of hair and asking the wife, "Is he as bald as me?" Proof that I did not ask that question is the fact that I am still around to blog once a month. Some phrases that I would have assumed to make things better but do not are: "Hell, nobody wants to drive on a road without any curves." or "Don't you worry your pretty face, she wouldn't survive a hard winter." These answers are not the correct answers. Ever. My wife can give what I call "shit looks" like it's nobody's business. I'm pretty sure if "shit looks" were a weapon, I would have been bludgeoned to death.
There may be men in this world that truly know what a woman wants. I know they all seem to want a dress that has pockets, but that is about it. I also know that life is made a lot better when you have someone by your side who is there for all of your ups and downs and puts up with your "juvenile" humor. I hope our young friends have as much fun and genuinely enjoy each other's company as I have enjoyed my first wife's company.
*Edit by Tina
I am Eric's first and only wife, "current wife," and "wife at the time." Insert an eye roll and heavy sigh here.