The other day, the Wonderful Marcia and I were downstairs watching NCIS and having a perfectly great evening. I went to the kitchen to get an ice cream sandwich, and when I came back, she said “Promise you won’t get mad, but I want to tell you something.” Now, ladies, just for future reference, if you are EVER going to begin a sentence to your husband or boyfriend with “Promise you won’t get mad but, “I think you can just about forget the rest of the sentence. Maybe you can forget the rest of the day.
So anyway, the Wonderful Marcia says “I am really worried about your weight.” Now…had she said that a year ago, I would have gotten up angrily, thrown my beloved ice cream sandwich into the trash, gone upstairs and sulked for the rest of the night. BUT….last year I was an Idiot Husband most of the time. Now I am just an Idiot Husband some of the time.
Last year, I would have looked at her, and even though in my heart of hearts, I would have known that being worried about my weight is a very rational and loving thing; I would have been really angry that the Wonderful Marcia was depriving me of my ice cream sandwich.
Women, don’t roll your eyes. Here is what happens to Idiot Husbands. I really feel in that moment like my Evil Wife is intentionally trying to take away my ice cream sandwich. I swear, I feel like saying “You’re NOT the boss of me.” But I CAN’T say that. I am an educated, wonderful, man. I am The Brilliant Therapist. But I am at HOME, where I am (say it with me) an IDIOT HUSBAND.
So now I am REALLY stuck. If I eat the ice cream, I am going to look like the fat slob idiot I am; and I am going to feel like a three year old IDIOT. If I don’t eat the ice cream sandwich, and I put it back in the refrigerator, she’s going to say something like “good boy” which is going to make me feel like a three year old IDIOT.
So either way I am going to be a three year old IDIOT. Unless……..
We check in with each other about this….
Most guys shiver in fear about the prospect of “checking in.” There is a big difference between a “check in” and a TALK. What I like to call a CAPITAL T talk, is when somebody wrecked the car, or someone is in the hospital (God forbid). The kind of “check in we have here is MUCH SIMPLER and MUCH MORE BRIEF. It goes something like this.
First, you start with an honest expression of what an ice cream sandwich is for you….(guys LOVE this….it’s practical)…
If it’s the man, you could say…”I love my ice cream sandwich, and it feels like a reward. I NEVER think of it as food, or as making me fat….it just feels good. And then YOU…(STOP THERE)
Then the woman responds “You don’t think of it as food? Really? Wow…I am constantly thinking of food as food, as what it will do to my body…And I want my man around…to grow old with and to nag until we are old and gray…well, until I am gray and you are a billiard ball”
(Brilliant Therapist interrupts) See, the purpose of the check in is for the two of them to really “get it” that their perception of food is totally different. It completely changes their relationship, and reconnects them in a very profound way.
It is RARELY this easy. But the take home messages here are two fold. First, it is always possible for there to be two right answers, or even more than two fold. You can want your ice cream sandwich AND want to grow old together. If your shared mutual primary purpose is to be connected, than sharing information, and hopefully affection about your shared goals, and about your dreams and desires (whether it is to write a book, lose five pounds, get along better with your in laws, or eat an ice cream sandwich), then your connection will deepen and grow.