It is seldom that I keep anything really important from my wife. But I did last Friday. It was during the noon hour and I had a short break from work so I decided to make some social rounds on Main Street. First I visited the Post Office, then the hardware store, the pharmacy and finally I ended my wandering in the Gandy Dancer bookstore. The people owning and operating the store are some of the nicest and friendliest people to ever sell you a book. We chatted about the usual stuff, work, weather and eventually settled on a topic we all struggle with; how to get your own way with people.
Since we were discussing the topic, I asked if she had a book with ideas on how to negotiate. On the book counter, directly in front of us, lay a book with the very topic we were discussing; How to Get Your Own Way. I figured that Bonnie had read the book because when I asked about, she gave it to me. Armed with a source of powerful knowledge I finally dreamed of getting the upper hand in life. But in order to do so I would need to keep this a secret from my wife. If this information became known to her, I would be finished. I was soon to be empowered, getting my own way in everything without so much as a question or comment to the contrary.
The first chapter to catch my attention was “12 Minutes a Day to Get Your Own Way in Your Marriage.” This was great. If I invested an extra 4-5 minutes a day, she would be putty in my hands. The chapter explained that you didn’t even have to invest the entire 12 minutes at one time; 3 minutes when you first wake up, 3 minutes just as you leave for the day, 3 minutes when you come home and 3 minutes at bedtime and the world would be yours. The book implied that by following this recipe for success, you would soon be captain of your own ship.
The next morning when my alarm rang I enthusiastically tried to engage her in conversation. She grabbed her pillow and pulled it over her head. The first 3 minutes didn’t go so well. When I was leaving for work she hadn’t had her coffee yet so the next 3 minutes fell flat. When I came home from work, I was tired and didn’t want to talk. So much for getting your own way in 12 minutes a day. With concentrated effort, I could only scratch out 3-5 minutes at best. Investing 12 minutes a day into your marriage was much harder than I expected.
Rather than belabor the point, I moved into the next chapter, “The Art of the Persuasive Argument”. I was good at arguing but not always good at persuading. Putting it all together would surely solve my problems. Girded with confidence, I attempted my first persuasive argument.
“I want a new boat.” I laid it out, plain and simple.
“Why? What’s wrong with the one you have now?” She responded.
“Well can I have a new fishing rod?”
“No. You have 27 of them now.”
“Well how about an extra piece of cake for dessert?”
“Didn’t your doctor tell you to watch your cholesterol and lose weight?”
“Well, its Friday night, do you want to…ah…you know…”
“When you get done cleaning up the dishes, vacuuming the floor, taking out the garbage and take the dog for a walk, we’ll see.”
I rushed through my chores, only chipping two plates in the process. I cleaned the house with fervor, dusting and sweeping in every corner. The dog was taken outside on a brisk walk and given an extra portion of food for being cooperative. When the chores were completed I readied myself for bed. A bit of extra scrubbing and grooming was sure to help. I was convinced, persuasive arguing was my strong point.
As I entered the bedroom, I shuddered in despair. My dear wife was asleep with a half-smile etched on her face. In her hands was my new book, How to Get Your Own Way. She was three chapters ahead of me.