When my wife does annoying things I think about one moment early in our dating relationship:
“Hey Shelly, do you want to play a game?” I asked as I drove.
“Sure.” She replied.
“First you have to think about something that I do ALL THE TIME,” Pause. “Got it?”
“Okay, I got something.” She giggles.
“What is it?”
“How you bounce your eyebrows.” She says with her usual captivating smile.
“Okay. Now think about something that I don’t do.”
“Got it. Put your pinky finger on the corner of your mouth and stick your bottom lip out, like Dr. Evil does in Austin Powers.”
“Like this?” I made the face.
“Yes. Like that.”
“So here’s the game. For one week, instead of bouncing my eyebrows I’m going to make the Dr. Evil face, and you have to do something else.”
Shelly bursts out laughing, “What?! Hahaha, okay.”
I thought of how she bursts out in laughter as a natural response to things and said, “You know how you always laugh when someone says something?”
“Well, now you have to bounce your eyebrows.” I said slyly as I squint my eyes and bounce my eyebrows at her. “And we can’t tell anyone why we do it until the end of the week.”
“Okay.” She giggled. We did a couple of practice runs during the car ride and then the game was afoot.
We played the game for the next seven days and I noticed that my dance team, who I spend at least 3 hours – 6 days a week with, who had caught on to my eyebrow bouncing from before, all started making the Dr. Evil face after the first couple of days. Shelly and I saw each other several times during that week and giggled and smiled when we would catch each other “playing the game”.
Two years later after we were married and started living together, there were clothes on the floor, empty ice trays, clutter piled up on the work desk, and other everyday annoying things that she or I did. I was either annoyed at what she was doing or annoyed that she called me out for what I was doing. These things simmered in my mind while driving to work one day, and as I look to the far side view mirror, I glanced at the empty passenger seat where my wife sat when we started that game not that long ago. The pressure left my mind as the cloud of complaints went away and a smile crept on my face. I was laughing at myself more than anything because at that moment, I KNEW that I could change something so ingrained in me for her. I knew I could change something like my eyebrow bouncing, my disregard for putting dirty clothes away, my habits… …my pride, for the woman I love. I reminisced at the seven days spent denying my instinctive behaviors for a request made by a beautiful girl, who was now the woman I had made my wife.