What I’ve learned in marriage: to wait

Confession: The other day I was texting with two friends at once. This is quite a feat for me, a slow texter. Fortunately, we were group messaging. Unfortunately, they were talking circles around me.

We were contemplating whether the rewards of attending a ladies’ seminar together would be worth the gigantic hurdles of a) the spouse permission process, signed in triplicate, b) babysitters, c) meals, d) adequate clothing for appearing in public at a fancy event, and e) how many of us will be pregnant by that time.

Hence the utter poverty of my texting approach, which comes out to roughly two words every fifteen minutes. I pretended I was driving and couldn’t endanger the lives of my children.

(Okay, I was driving. But not the whole time.)

One friend said, So how do you go about broaching this subject with your husband? Sometimes I really wish I could see into how these conversations go for other couples.*

I dodged, because it felt like too much to say:

In our house, it aalllll depends. He likes task lists by email, so he has a visual. He likes big conversations after the kids are in bed, but not just as we’re about to drop off to sleep. He likes to save the little things for when he’s *not working in his office, and the touchy things for when I’m *not simultaneously making supper, balancing a baby on one hip, directing several children in cleaning up the living room, listening to music, and opening the door so the cat can get outside. (This happens at our house.) There is an awful knack to picking the right time and medium.

You know how long that would have taken me to text!

But she persisted. I really want to know.

Okay, I said. Well.

What I do is I mention it sort of casually, like ‘Hey, today I was texting with x and x about whether we should try for Oasis this year or just hit the beach instead. Hahaha.’

(Which, regrettably, is true – but don’t forget the context of hahaha.)

And then I drop it entirely. I used to always follow up by pressing for an answer right away – ‘Well, what do you think about me going?’ – but after a while I realized it’s simply not how his brain works. So I drop the seed and let it go, and by the time I return to the topic a couple of days later, he’s had time to get used to the idea. Sometimes he even has a plan made.

That took just as long to text. But it is also smarter than it appears at first blush.

You know I’m trying to be more direct than in previous years. In saying this now, I’m not undermining being direct; I’m highlighting the fact that being direct does not mean being urgent, pushy, and non-strategic. I don’t know about your man, but mine likes time to think on things. He doesn’t think on things by talking about things. When I keep asking it’s like poking the same spot over and over: he develops a bruise, and winces away. He needs to answer in his own time.

So I lay it out casually (one time), and when it feels ripe I ask (one time) for real.

And then whether he says yes or no, whether he acts on the matter as lightning or as molasses, I try hard to keep my mouth shut.

Sometimes it even works.

P.S. I hope he is not reading this post. That would kind of give everything away, wouldn’t it?

* Unfortunately my phone ate our conversation, so this is not verbatim, but I will not be held responsible for accidents.

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Mom Coblentz
7 years ago

Sometimes I’m pretty sure I STILL haven’t mastered the art of waiting. Hmm

This is funny. I can so relate. But I’ll try not to keep posting on your posts. 🙂

7 years ago

I’m loving this series. I can relate SO much.

And I just had this conversation with my husband, which ended in me sending in my registration. We have no idea what our summer holds. (Actually a pretty good idea, and it is not pretty, and I might need an Oasis by August.) I’ve missed the last two years so I’m HOPING to see you there.


7 years ago

So after I read this post I pushed the “like” button…I thought it was interesting and I liked it. Then I thought, “Hey..wait. This is weird..I’m an 18 year old liking a post on relating to your husband in marriage?!” I SO can’t relate. So I unliked it. Because I didn’t want to be weird. But I like reading about what a real marriage consists of. Its interesting to me, and I think us young girls should know about the more difficult or not as rosy side of marriage. Anyway. I think I’m going to go push that “like” button again. Weird or not.

7 years ago

O this is great!! So funny to have someone else articulate clearly the nuances I’ve experienced in my marriage but never could express! Yes and yes!!

Tina Z.
7 years ago

I’m enjoying these series too. Hope there’s more posts coming.:)

Natalia Showalter
7 years ago

I so appreciate you sharing your gift of writing…..you make me laugh! What a great description of the delicate dance in marital communications.

7 years ago

This confirms what I often think: wives and moms are unbelievably wise. I don’t know how you do it!

7 years ago

Would anyone care to share information about the ladies’ seminar that’s been mentioned? I’m curious about it, but perhaps it’s for a specific group such as minister’s wives. 🙂

7 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

Thank you very much! And it doesn’t sound snooty. I realize that the ones who put themselves out there for others don’t always get the input themselves that’s optimal.

6 years ago

Shari, I’m catching up with you again and I just love your intelligent mind and beautiful, winsome writing. Now I want to go to Oasis tooooooo. All the marriage posts are ?.

6 years ago
Reply to  Luci

Thank you, Luci!

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