Monday, April 13, 2015

I'll Have the Wedge Salad

Sometimes it seems like Tim and I have a bit of a Claire/Phil Dunphy Modern Family vibe going on. Of course I don't exercise as much or put away the quantity of wine that Claire does, and I am reasonably sure Tim was not on his college cheerleading squad, but when they start talking about Claire not knowing how to use the remote control/s, or Phil being, well, Phil, the similarities are eerie.

No episode has driven this home quite like the WEDGE SALAD one. Have you seen it? It aired in Feb 2011, and it was as if Phil and Claire had an inside peek into Tim's and my marriage. Claire was beyond pissed that Phil wanted to tell her about this super-duper new salad that an acquaintance had turned him on to-- when Claire herself had been singing the praises of the wedge salad for years! Phil tried desperately to figure out why Claire was so mad, but there were so many possibilities over the course of a given day, he couldn't pin it down.

Wow. You see, I've struggled mightily over the years with feeling like either Tim is not listening to me, or if he does listen, he discounts my opinion while enthusiastically supporting the same opinion if it comes from another source. Gah!

This became so standard early on in our marriage that my sis and I had a running joke about it. When Tim and I went searching for our first couch together, for instance, my sister said, "Pick the one you want and have Hal recommend it." Hal, one of our friends, somehow became the arbiter of all that was good and desirable to Tim, even if Hal I and said the same damn thing.

Whether it was a new restaurant, a Bible Study class, a TV show, or some home improvement idea, it never hurt for Tim to hear how much Hal liked it first.

I remember reading about a fun family activity called geocaching where you go on a hike and follow clues to find a small treasure in the woods. I mentioned it to Tim a few times with absolutely no reaction. Was I speaking out loud? In English? Then, I left a few Boy Scout Magazines with geocaching articles on his desk, with "Read Me!" written in Sharpie. Nothing.

One day, more than 6 months later, Tim was delighted to tell me about a new pastime he had heard about: Geocaching! And faster than you could say, "Wedge Salad!" he had gathered up a fanny pack, a portable GPS unit, the kids and the dog; "Team Shadow" was off in the woods! I am not sure what gave Tim the idea (Hal had moved away years earlier) but I know he likely doesn't think it was me. Tim took to geocaching enthusiastically and it became a wonderful way for him to connect with the kids on outdoor adventures-- just like Claire had I'd envisioned.

Now you may think that you would NOT put up with this sort of nonsense in your marriage. Shouldn't Tim listen the first (or fourth) time I suggest something, whether it's painting the fireplace white, or going on a trip?

I get it, I do.

But a lot of marriage is trying not to become so irritated with the other person that you want to do them bodily harm. It's a dance. A long, long, long dance with ample opportunities for compromise.

I have judged other people's marriages when they look different than mine, only to realize that their dance is just different than ours. For instance, I remember hearing of friends who would squirrel away new purchases from their husbands so they wouldn't have to admit they'd gone shopping. Or they kept a stash of fun money in their dresser so they wouldn't be held accountable for spending it. I told myself there was NO WAY I'd put up with a spouse who was all up in my grill about my spending habits, but I later realized, just because financial transparency wasn't a hot button issue in Tim's and my marriage we had plenty of our own.

We are similar in our spending and saving habits, raising children, and our focus on faith and integrity. But in other areas, we diverge a lot. He's active, while sleep is my favorite thing. He likes to do. I like to be. He processes things s-l-o-w-ly while I make decisions quickly. We vote on opposite sides of the aisle. And the list goes on.

I have learned that if I wait until I receive an enthusiastic response about painting walls, hanging pictures, getting pets, or going on a family trip, I'll be waiting a very long time. My old M.O. was to get annoyed and discouraged because we never seemed on the same page, and then give up on what I wanted amid a lot of huffing and puffing. Or I'd hope against hope that someone like Hal would show up and give me a ringing endorsement. I now know that Tim's agenda is going to be different than mine about 80% of the time. Even if we both want to trim the bushes, trust me, they will NOT be the same bushes.

Over time (and well over age 40!) I've learned to go ahead and set things in motion, then give Phil Tim a chance to warm up and catch up. I narrow down choices for him, so he has a say but doesn't have to sift through a ton of information. He does the same thing for me when it comes to investments and remote controls. I try to be extremely clear about what I want, whether it is stopping at a rest area ("I HAVE TO PEE RIGHT NOW. I DON'T CARE IF IT'S NOT LUNCHTIME YET") or about getting a puppy for Margaret ("IT'S TIME.") In the case of Shadow and Charlie, I located the dogs, then gave Tim's brain and heart a chance to catch up. It didn't take long.

It's a dance. And with all the smushed toes and missteps it really helps to remember that Phil has some awesome character traits AND Claire is not always a peach to live with either.

P.S. I think we'll have a wedge salad for dinner. Here's the recipe.



30 comments:

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

LOVE this! My husband and I often give each other "the look" that says, "that is SO you" while watching Modern Family. I think maybe there is a bit of Phil and Claire in all marriages. And, wedge salad is my favorite! :)

Anonymous said...

My husband is the same way. We recently hired a company to remove a tree for $450. At one point, he seemed to want to hire a company that quoted for $1575, because that was the company his best friend had used and recommended.

Susie - Recovering Church Lady said...

Oh man, I loved that episode and we do a very similar dance as you guys. I make quick decisions, but Hubs has to let it brew for a while, do research on it and then slowly comes up with "a great idea!" that I planted months before. Haha!

angela said...

I love the part about everyone's dance being different, everyone's hot buttons a little unique.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful, lifelong dance! Have learned a new one recently and am much better at it! Kudos to you and Tim,, and Margaret, for still dancing!

katrynka said...

So true about marriages! My personal theory is that testosterone causes brain damage!!

Lesley UK said...

Welcome to the club! If I tell my husband a snippit of news or gossip, he later repeats it back to me, and if I say, 'I told you that', he says, 'Well I knew someone did' It drives me crazy, but like you I've learned that it's just one of his lovable(?) quirks. Blessings

ella said...

oh man, I'm totally sharing this with my husband. lol Our dance involves him having a bright idea he insists will be a piece of cake (let's paint the entire house in a weekend! let's put our house on the market without any planning, no biggie!) while dismissing my concern and desire to plan it out - and then acts completely surprised when we're knee-deep in craziness. Gah!

Anonymous said...

HA! I'm afraid I'm more like Tim/Phil and my husband has a personality like you/Claire. Thanks for the laugh!

Anne B said...

Ben is the Hal in my relationship with my husband. Drives me batty!

Kimberly said...

Love this...chuckled the whole way through. Married 20 years and way over 40 - it does give some perspective!! Good for you that you've figured out the coping mechanisms for not injuring each other. ;)

Debby@Just Breathe said...

We love Modern Family and I can totally relate to "is not listening to me, or if he does listen, he discounts my opinion while enthusiastically supporting the same opinion if it comes from another source" drives me crazy! I think you have learned more than I have or just the face that with age it just seems to irritate me even more now.......

heworeflannel.com said...

I was just thinking of how my hubby and I align on opposite sides of the aisle, before I read this. Hooray, the advent of another long presidential campaign season. :/ Thanks for the post about how individuals in a couple can be different, way different, and that's OK.

Linda Tharp said...

I once read a quote from a man regarding he and his wife's upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. His sage advice on the secret to marital longevity? "We never wanted a divorce at the same time."

Oh, and I think your husband has a kindred spirit living in California. And I'm married to him.

SouthMainMuse said...

My dad was and I am huge fans of The Wedge. It was big in the 60s and very in now. And my husband wouldn't sit at the same table with a Wedge. He would rather run 50 miles than eat lettuce and a teaspoon of Blue Cheese dressing. Go figure.

Ashley Brown said...

I think you just described most marriages. I know you did mine :) Great post!

Nikki Frank-Hamilton said...

Are you a fly on my wall? Lol I don't get upset at him not listening, at least not much, he is pretty darn great in all other areas! Thanks for the reminder!

Sharon said...

I think we may be married to the same man.

Anonymous said...

men don't listen. they just don't. i don't know if it's because they actually can't (it might be literally true) or if something else is going on, but i've noticed it as a widespread male tendency. and they listen LESS as they get older. they seem to become more internal. personally i've taken to communicating by text and email even when he's right in the house with me. that seems to work -- honestly. i guess because the communications are specific and pointed and usually not emotional. and even when it is emotional, it's organized enough to be written down so somehow it gets through. try it! you might say, "but written material sometimes lacks the nuances that face-to-face expression has" but they usually miss the nuances anyway! ha!

Heidi Cave said...

Yes! Loved this. Scott and I had our Claire/Phil moment yesterday. We have a lot of them.

Ummm...sooo...realized today I hadn't reviewed/rated your incredible book! It's done as of a few minutes ago. I don't know how I overlooked that. Because I LOVED your book.

xo

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes.
I'm trying so hard to master the art of 'Let him think it's his idea' because it's so much easier than countering resistance or apathy.

Anonymous said...

"Was I speaking out loud? In English?" lol - that is how I feel so often!! Could so relate to that Modern family episode and to your piece on it :o)

Anonymous said...

I can relate, on so many levels, but mailing just do and give Mike time to warm up. It's our differences that really make us interesting to one another. I enjoyed reading this blog post.
Sandie brown

julie gardner said...

I know that exact episode.
I know that exact marriage.

:-)

c smith said...

You are definitely not the only couple to do that particular dance! We recently bought new living room furniture and for weeks I touted the need for a sleeper sofa, just to get my husband used to the idea that we would be spending the extra money. it was more durable, our daughter could use it when she came home from college, etc. We were in the store and the salesman was pushing upgrading to a sleeper sofa and my husband turned to me and said, "we should really consider that", AS IF HE HAD NEVER HEARD OF A SOFA BED IN HIS LIFE, sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE this post! Everyone I know who has been married 20+ years would totally agree. Pick your battles for yourself.

Anonymous said...

That thing, where you have been saying something for months, only for your other half to do it when an outsider recommends it, drives me POTTY!

When my other half eventually sees the light (thanks to someone else of course!), I take the opportunity to give him a piece of my mind. I'm sure you get the picture : )

All the best
Kxx

Anonymous said...

The comment that anonymous made on April 15, 2015 at 6:46 AM - it's exactly how I am with my boss at work! Despite the fact that we are an extremely small office and he sits right behind me, I email him about the simplest things. It's the only way forward!

the mama bird diaries said...

I love this post. And there is no truer sentence than this... "But a lot of marriage is trying not to become so irritated with the other person that you want to do them bodily harm. It's a dance. A long, long, long dance with ample opportunities for compromise."

Salvimom said...

Beautiful.