Columnists

Permission Has Been Granted

My church’s men’s group recently had a discussion about who was the boss in our homes.  Many of the members had never thought about it and didn’t know how to respond. I told them I was sure I was the boss, but I wanted to check with my wife to see if she agreed with my saying that.

After giving it more thought, I realized I do something that may reveal I am not the boss.  Whenever I share with my wife what my plans are, I follow my declaration with “okay?”

“Mary Ellen, I’m going to take a shower, okay?”

Why have I formed this as a question? Am I asking for permission?

When I was single, I took a shower anytime I wanted; I didn’t need to inform anyone. I could just do it…unless I hadn’t paid the water bill. Why do I need consent now?  In all fairness, my wife has never said, “No, I don’t want you to take a shower,” but occasionally she’ll say: “Don’t use all the hot water.” One morning, she remarked, “It’s about time,” which really got my attention.

Last Tuesday, I said, “I’m going to the drug store, okay?”

“Sure…and while you’re there, get a bottle of my shampoo and some dental floss, and pick up my prescription refill. And I also need a L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara, Black/Brown color. Any man who can find that earns an A-OK. Good luck.

Then, just yesterday, I announced, “I’m going for a walk, okay?” Now, I knew Mary Ellen would have no objection, but phrasing it as a question gave her the option to add: “That’s fine, but be sure to bring your water bottle, don’t track in any mud when you get back, and don’t walk in the middle of the street. The neighbors are complaining about having to swerve around you.

Ending with “okay?” must be a subconscious need for approval in whatever I do. In retrospect, I wish I had just said: “Mary Ellen, I am going for a walk.” I tried that earlier this afternoon. Here’s what she said:

“That’s fine, but be sure to bring your water bottle, don’t track in any mud when you get back, and don’t walk in the middle of the street. The neighbors are complaining about having to swerve around you.” Yeah, so much for that theory.

Mary Ellen may be the boss after all. She handles all our investments, medical policies, landscaping choices, mortgage decisions, barbequing, last will and testament updates, our automatic sprinkler system and any home security issues, just to name a few of her responsibilities.  I am proud to say that oil changes for both of our cars are my department. That, along with doing the dishes, pretty much sums up my obligations in the Wolfsie household. As you can tell, I don’t do very much. But in all fairness, Mary Ellen won’t let me.

After admitting to all of this, I want you to know that starting right now, I am going to be more assertive in all my conversations, more positive in my tone and more confident in my decisions, okay?

Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@ aol.com.