My ego doesn't bruise easily. But the other day when my husband, Brian, asked, "Why do you feel compelled to manage me?" I was deflated. He just doesn't appreciate all the sound guidance I give.
After all, I have a wealth of experience to share and he always seems to need so-o-o-o much help. Besides, with his linear thought process, which he readily admits gets in the way, Lord knows what this 60-something guy would do without me.
Man-o-man, did I get the message? It was so obvious by the way his temples bulged and his teeth clenched – he wasn't joking. There wouldn't be any second chances for me. He was done with my good advice.
Well, I guess after nearly 40 years of marriage, it eventually would come to this. He's at the point, maybe a delayed midlife crisis, where he actually thinks he can figure things out on his own. Yeah, right. Even so, I'm reluctantly pulling back. Zipping my lips. Closing my trap. Keeping it to myself.
I doubt he's even noticed.
And when I do slip (Oops!) and "manage" him, like the time I said, "Don't talk with your mouth full," he's sure to call me on it. I can't believe it's come to this. My husband has turned into the veritable "Don't manage my life" police. These days, I can't say a word without him thinking I'm trying to tell him what to do. Now why would he think that?
He has no clue how hard it is to stand by and watch while he makes a complete fool out of himself.
Like the other night, when we were getting "dressed up" to attend a fundraiser at an art center in Omaha, I was really good. I totally held back, short of stapling my mouth shut. It wasn't easy.
I didn't tell him when it was time to get ready. I didn't tell him what to wear. I didn't tell him to do anything.
Okay, he was on time, I'll give him that. But what does he wear? A pair of jeans with stains down the front. Looked like motor oil to me. Now, why would anyone wear mechanic's pants to an art center fundraiser? Too-o-o-o- late. We were already in the car, heading down the road, when I first noticed.
"Look, you have a big stain on your pant leg," I cautiously pointed out.
"Uh, I do?" he asked, looking down.
"And there's another one." I had him now. If I had only checked out what he was wearing beforehand, this disaster would've never happened.
"Oh, well," I said, proudly patting myself on the back. "At least I kept my mouth shut while you were getting ready. Did you notice I didn't tell you what to wear?" I said, gloating with my best smile and fishing for positive feedback.
"Yeah, but you just blew it," he countered. "You had to say something, didn't you?"
"Who, me?" I sat there baffled that he didn't realize the value of me pointing out his poor choice of clothes when it was too late to change anyway.
"You're trying to manage me. Don't you see?" he stressed in a gotcha tone. "You're using a sneak-attack – the old backdoor approach."
Taken back and crushed in disbelief, I sniffled, "But I didn't tell you what to wear. Don't I get points for that? Can't you see how good I've been?"
"Not when you're pointing out stains on my clothes," he retorted.
Needless to say, it's been an uphill battle since. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've had to bite my tongue. It's absolutely raw. This is wearing me out. Such a pity to waste all of my good advice, no, make that fantastic, brilliant, insightful and much needed advice, like…
Thank people when they compliment you.
Say hello to our guests.
Don't let your chest hairs show.
Button up your shirt.
Don't stuff your dress shirts in the laundry basket.
Hang them right out of the dryer.
Vacuum the corners.
Put away your power tools.
Don't start another project before you finish the ones you've started.
Wear something nice.
Not jeans with stains.
Not jeans with oil stains.
So much good advice. So little appreciation.
Oh, well, I hope he's happy.
2012 © Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on FaceBook.