The Gift Giving Tango

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The couple that muds together stays together.

Sarah and I, long before kids and after binge watching Lost Season 2 before “binge watching” was a thing, would head to bed about one…one thirty in the morning. It usually took about 15 seconds for me to get ready for bed, but Sarah has always has her little routine. Good for her, maybe its therapeutic, but I was thrilled to only have only two responsibilities at bed time: 1.) lay down 2.) go to sleep.

These are called DVDs.

These are called DVDs.

Twenty minutes later, Sarah is finally ready to go to sleep, but not before waking me up to ensure she has a good night kiss. This drove me crazy. I’m already zonked out, but I now have to acknowledge she’s ready for bed, roll over, and give her a kiss. Not cool…noon comes early when you’re 22 and refuse to acknowledge adult responsibilities. But I always obliged and of course, it never ended there.

Get your mind out of the gutter, she just wanted to snuggle…and talk. “Not cool, Sarah!” I just want to freaking sleep. I’ve committed to closing my eyes, but she would have none of it. I love this woman, but this always fired me up and eventually I would snap. Naturally, she would roll over making a statement of “I guess I love you more than you love me,” with her body language.

I would apologize and try to explain why I was tired, but that I still loved her. I tried to snuggle and talk about our day, but she wouldn’t have it. Alas, I would finally give up…relieved that she was mad enough to let me sleep, but I always mad the mistake of acting like I my feelings had now been hurt.

Then the whole cycle would start over again. She would “console” me while I tried to sleep until I freaked out. I would attempt to apologize and it drove her crazy. I’d act sad; she would console me. I’d snap. Then her, then me. This would go on for about an hour and it was nightly. I have no idea how to explain this behavior and I am not proud of it, but it happened.

This handsome couple is "fake mad." A tactic Sarah and I know all too well.

This handsome couple is “fake mad.” A tactic Sarah and I know all too well.

Fortunately, we’ve grown and learned so much from each other. One of the few fortunate side effects of having kids with it comes to sleeping habits; we stopped driving each other crazy…at bed time. When it is truly time for bed, we exchange a good night peck, rollover, and pass out.

Sadly though, these types of exchanges still haunt other parts of our lives. In particular, gift giving. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Flag Day, and even her birthday. We do a dance around budget, what she actually wants, what she needs, and everything in between.

This Mother’s Day was not exception. Now, most years, Sarah starts out with some excuse as to why I don’t need to do anything for Mother’s Day. Thankfully, I ignore it because, in nearly the same breath, she starts dropping hints on “cute ideas” I might want to consider, and follows it up with, “But really, you don’t need to get me anything.” We have real interactions like this. It drives me crazy. She toys with my emotions and heart as she inadvertently raises the pressure on a senseless holiday1. I come through in the clutch…as always (except for that one time) and we prepare to do the dance the next year.

Apparently, part of being madly in love is driving each other crazy at every turn. Not like actual crazy, but the type of crazy that keeps your on your toes. Life is short, what fun is it if you don’t help each other find the boundaries of sanity? Not the way I would have drawn it up, but I’ve learned not to question God’s design.

Don just can't decide what to get his wife (and girlfriends and mistresses) for Mother's Day. The struggle is real.

Don just can’t decide what to get his wife (and girlfriends and mistresses) for Mother’s Day. The struggle is real.

I now understand, I should lovingly listen to Sarah’s banter and when it comes to getting her a gift, listen just enough to get good hints about what she’ll like and then crush it. When working with a decent budget, crush it. When working with the change I can find in the couch, crush it.

Frankly, it would be nice is she just trusted that I’d take care of business after a decade of marriage, but I’ll keep plugging away. Adoring her face off with thoughtful gifts and attempting to gain weight at a much slower rate. If I can get those two things right, she might just keep me around a little while longer.


1. Senseless because she’s not my mom. Senseless because we don’t need a day on the calendar “show appreciation” to the mother of our children. I am in awe of what Sarah does as a mother, but isn’t this holiday about the kids showing love to their mom? Well, the boys are usually running low on cash, I can help them along but why is all the pressure on us?! Senseless:)


About Brent Nichols

My blogging is, no doubt, all over the map, but hope you'll find something just right for you. Currently living in the D.C.-metro area in Northern Virginia. You know what? I think I kinda like it out here.

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