My wife is making a few decisions. When she does this, she runs her ideas by me, which is her way of letting me know that our lives in some way are about to change.
Sometimes her decisions are about the food we eat. In an attempt to be healthy, we actually drank unsweet tea once upon a time for about three months.
“Do you mind if I cut sugar from our diet for a while?”
I was thinking cookies, deserts, and Dr. Pepper might disappear. Cut out the bowl of ice cream while watching reruns of Mayberry. Things like that. I am a man willing to assist her in her quest for a healthy lifestyle. I can handle a change. Bring it on.
The next night at supper, when I took that first sip of tea I almost gagged.
“What happened to the tea?”
“You agreed to no sugar?”
“I didn’t think you meant tea?”
Some things in life are hallowed and should not be messed with. It was a hard three months.
This time she is making decisions about furniture. This is no headline news, unless you know my wife. Decisions come hard for her. Her Dad was a strong-willed man and held the reigns pretty tight on three girls, for whom he made all the decisions. Any decisions she ever made on her own were often either shot down or cast aside as ridiculous.
“Dad, I’m going to play outside in the rain.” “Don’t be silly.”
“Dad I wanna spend the night over at Caroline’s house.” “Don’t be silly.”
“Dad, I’m thinking about going away to college.” “Don’t be silly. We’ve got a Jr. College right here in town.”
I may be over-stating it a little bit, but “Don’t be silly,” were the words that have made it almost impossible for her to make decisions that most of us make without so much as a wink and nod. She has lived her whole life with a handcuffed sense of confidence.
Now, she has decided that she wants to get rid of our couch. No second guessing here. Two love seats in place of a couch the approximate length and weight of a battleship. I can handle that. “The TV cabinet has got to go,” she says with the authority of a Director of Operations. We bought this beast over 30 years ago when TVs were not the size of Megatrons. The TV has been on top of the cabinet and not inside the cabinet for years. So, out with the beast.
She has figured out that decision making is not rocket surgery. You don’t have to have a Masters degree to make a decision. You don’t have to wait until you can see your way through every detail that might affect the outcome. You just have to know that some of the decisions you make will turn out to be better than others. The ones that turn out to be not so great are not necessarily wrong and they are not etched in stone forever.
I like this fearless side of her growing determination.
I understand that not all decisions are easy. Some come with sleepless nights and a guarantee that someone close to you will not be happy. But hard decisions have to be made all the time. Love, war, hospitals and major league baseball games all bear witness to this. But most of us are faced with the more mundane decisions of everyday life. And if you can’t do that, family life gets tense.
Herb and Ruth are sitting at the kitchen table. Spoons tinkling against the inside of the coffee cups. Herb slurps his coffee. She’s been wanting to take a trip to the beach for three years.
“Can we decide something about a vacation this year? I think a little trip to the beach would do us some good.”
Herb is non-committal. “I guess we could think about it. Let’s see how things are come June.” Herb hates to plan too far ahead. He likes to keep his options open. Besides, if he commits to a decision, he gets nauseous just thinking about what he’s obligated himself to do.
“We can’t wait ‘til June to decide. We’ve been talking about going to beach for three years now. I need to know now if you intend to go.” Ruth is usually a calm woman. She’s raised three kids and can handle most anything. Except now, she’s had about enough of Herb. She imagines what it would be like to toss her coffee at him from across the table.
“Well, I’ve got that thing down at the lodge coming up. We’re gonna need new tires on the car before we could make a trip like that. I just don’t know that I can tell you right now.” He just can’t bring himself to say, “Yep. We’re going to the beach.”
His best answer is, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Ruth wanted to shoot him right on the spot. It’s one thing to ride around town on a Saturday trying to decide where they might eat lunch. He would say, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll be happy with whatever.” She says, “Well, I don’t care. Whatever you feel like.” And after an hour they’d go home for a grilled cheese sandwich.
This beach trip was his idea three years ago. He brought it up. She finally took a direct approach. “I’m not waiting. Come June, I’m packing the suitcases. You can come with me or stay here and drink your coffee by yourself.”
Herb put his spoon down. He’s a little bit taken back by such a direct approach. “Okay. I guess we’re going to the beach.”
I am confident that there is a new love seat in my future. My sweet wife has grown leaps and bounds over the last 40 years in the area of decision making. I’m not saying it will be an easy process. There will be multiple store visits to search out the perfect love seat that works for her. Not too tall. Not too deep. The distance between her knees and her feet is shorter than most. It will have to meet her expectations.
And because I know that she still hears “Don’t be silly” in the back of her mind, I have learned to be her biggest fan. That’s my role in this decision. I’m glad to go to the store with her, but I don’t have to. I will like whatever she brings home as long as it comes with two guys to haul away the old battleship that sits in my living room now.
And, as long as when I sit down and prop my feet up, I can have a nice glass of ice-cold sweet tea to go with it.