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How To Handle Marital Commands Disguised As Requests

OK, so you’ve fallen for the bait. You’ve jumped into this column looking for valuable marital insights from an experienced husband, and by experienced I mean a man on his second marriage.

You’ve got two choices: Don’t listen to me because I screwed up my first marriage or listen to me for precisely that reason. 

But I have to say, I am on a roll. Not only am I remarried, we are headed for our 12th anniversary this year and I haven’t been served with any papers so I’m feeling pretty good about it. (I jest, I jest, which is columnist jargon for my wife may read this.)

Let’s get to today’s topic. How do you, as a semi-listening husband, tell the difference between friendly marital requests versus commands?

The answer is you don’t. There is no difference. Pretending there is a difference is the road to heartache or, even worse, a lengthy discussion.

Let’s Go Through A Few Examples Of Marital Commands:

Wife: “My Mom would like to visit this weekend. Is that OK with you?”

Now, were you to answer that question honestly, you might say, “You know, the Masters is on this weekend. I don’t really want anyone around. How about next month?’

Or you could say, but not out loud, “Sure, it’s OK. While we’re at it, how about I go away this weekend and watch the Masters in a remote log cabin? Is that OK with you?”

More proof that sometimes, honesty isn’t everything. The only thing you need to say here is, “Yes.” Sure, you can throw in a “sounds good” or “fine by me” if you want, just don’t take it too far with a “that’ll be fun” because not even the dog is buying that one.

That’s it. You’re never going to find cleaner guidance for one simple reason: There is no such thing as a marital request. When you hear comments such as, “Do you want to run to the store or should I?”, you know what to do. 

If she says, “I’m kind of in the mood for Thai tonight – unless you want something else,” do not foolishly assume she is asking you for your dinner opinion. The fact is, from the moment she proposed it, you’re getting Thai. If that means you’re getting Thai after all of your non-Thai food outlets are rejected, including several that do not involve a drive-through, you’ve got only yourself to blame.

Wives know they do this. Mine doesn’t bother to deny it. I asked her, for the purpose of better informing this column and you, my dear readers, why she asks me questions when she knows there only can be one answer? She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Just being polite.”

As you become more skilled in this area, you’ll learn the art of anticipating the marital request, which can yield real dividends. It all paid off for me on Easter Sunday. First my wife asked earlier in the week if I could pick up a ham to bake for the big day. Well, not only did I get a ham, I got a fully cooked ham, and there it was reheating in the oven, ready to serve in 30 minutes.

Then came the second request.

“Honey, did you want to carve the ham?”

I smiled. That ham I bought? Spiral cut, by the butcher. 

“Consider it done, dear,” I said as I leaned back into the couch, 20 more minutes to call my own.

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About The Author
David Meeks
David Meeks
David Meeks has never hesitated to speak truth to power. He’s uncovered shady coal mine operators in Alabama, corrupt politicians in Louisiana and supported single fathers in Florida. When New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Meeks, then Sports Editor of The Times-Picayune, refused an evacuation order. He commandeered a newspaper truck, assembled a team of journalists and won two Pulitzer Prizes. He has worked for the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and was the Managing Editor of USA Today Sports. He is Alabama-born and Michigan-raised, and today lives with his family in Washington, D.C.