When I married my husband 28 years ago, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know that ideally, married people should first be required to have a degree in psychology. I still don’t have a degree in psychology, but… you pick things up after so many years.
Things like the hot buttons and motivating factors for your spouse. In our many years together, I’ve learned that his biggest hot button is anyone taking a picture of him while he’s in the bathroom. For some reason, when we were newly married, my brain wasn’t as well developed and I didn’t see that as being an issue. But… well… you live and learn.
His second biggest hot button - and this is something I have absolutely no control over - is bad drivers. A calm, pleasant conversation in the car can be immediately terminated by a driver whose brake lights flashed for no apparent reason. My husband will then rant and rave for an hour, casting aspersions upon the hapless driver’s character, gender, sexual orientation and parent’s marital status. Then he wonders why I am in a bad mood the rest of the day.
“I wasn’t yelling at you, Laura.” “Well, there was no one else in the car with you, was there?” I have also come to learn that there are only two motivating factors in a man’s life: food and sex – and not necessarily in that order.
For some reason, a man believes that there is no moral code that requires him to go anywhere he considers boring. This refers to any event that is not sports related or where no speeding - and ideally, crashing - cars are involved. If it is a second-grade play or a sixth-grade music recital, his wife will have to represent. However, if even the smallest amount of food will be served – lemonade and cookies, even – he will be there. The more food, the better the odds that he will attend.
“Honey, there is an awards ceremony at the elementary school today. Can you come?” “I’m not sure I can get away today.” “They are serving cookies, I think.” “I’ll do my best.” Which, in male-speak means, “If I have nothing better to do.” I have started to carry Twinkies and Little Debbies in my purse, just in case he arrives and there are no cookies.
Sex is the ultimate motivator, though. I never use this power for evil, but I must admit: A woman who is angry rarely can be persuaded to please the object of her anger. Men eventually catch on to this truth. My husband caught on only a few years ago. He never received a psychology degree either, but I know that he has finally picked up on this because he has recently developed a habit of sniffing. I’ve come to realize that a sniff means he wants to say something that he knows will tick me off, but he doesn’t know how long I’ll be ticked off, so he buys time to calculate by sucking large amounts of air into his nose. Unfortunately, I have begun answering his sniffs with suspicion.
“I need to buy a new food processor. This one is old and my julienne blade got run over by a skateboard.” …Sniff… “What?” “Nothing.” …Sniff… “You don’t think I need one, do you? You think a knife would work just as well, don’t you? You think my cooking can’t get any worse anyway, don’t you?” “I didn’t say anything!” “You didn’t have to!” Silence… “Are you mad?” “Yes, I’m mad!” “Damn!”