Here is a true one-day story in my life that gave a life lesson and developed a life-changing mantra.
Early in the day, I spoke on the phone with a friend who was complaining about her husband coming home and playing with her children instead of helping her with the after-dinner clean up. I reminded her that a few weeks before, she had told me she wished he would spend more time with the children when he came home from work instead of helping her in the kitchen. “hmmp,” she responded. “This isn’t what I meant.”
A few hours later, I was on the phone with another friend. I asked her if she wanted to run to the store with me. “No,” she said. “I have to go to town with my husband. He is picking up horse feed and then we’ll get a burger.” I told her that was awesome! She had told me a week before that she had told her husband she wished he would include her in his life more. “Going to town for horse feed and a burger is not what I had in mind,” she told me.
Later that day, Dave and I ended up in the same room at the same time for a bit and I told him I had been thinking about something and wanted his perspective. “I think men want their wives to be satisfied,” I told him. No argument from him. “In fact, I think I understand that even if it is only because their lives will be easier, they want their wives to be happy, right?” He was warming to my topic.
I had been thinking all day that these two husbands, both of whom I knew well, had every intention of satisfying their respective wives by doing what they thought their wife wanted. One clearly had heard his wife say she would be happier if he spent more time with their children in the evenings, so he did exactly what he thought would satisfy his wife. The other husband had clearly heard his wife tell him that she wanted him to include her more in his life which was very full with a job and then a large horse business with his father. His intention was to satisfy her longing to spend more time together by asking her to ride along with him on chores. But, neither wife was satisfied. And it was not their husbands’ fault (at least not this time).
My conclusion, which I shared with Dave, was that if we could assume that men wanted their wives to be happy and that they would change their behavior to that end if they had a clue what to do, then it is a wife’s responsibility to determine what will satisfy her. And to communicate that to her husband. (And then, possibly, to remember it.)
A man wants a happy wife. If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy and all that. A lot of men, I am sure want to please their wives because they love them deeply. But, even if the only reason is to simplify their own life and minimize the at-home drama and stress, a man doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that a satisfied wife is a better life.
So, the responsibility for my own personal satisfaction lies squarely with me. I need to determine what will satisfy me. Not an easy task, really, with so many options and so little time (or discipline) to sort through all the options to determine what will deeply, not just make me happy for a moment, but satisfy me.
Dave whole-heartedly agreed with my conclusions. Men want their wives to be satisfied. It would be helpful if women figured out what would satisfy them and then communicate that to their husbands. Complete agreement, we had on this topic, that day.
On that particular day, Dave and I had an anniversary coming up. Our 25th, as a matter of fact. I had been thinking about something significant to celebrate the fairly amazing fact that we had made it to year 25. We aren’t that great at celebrating ourselves. I don’t think Dave would argue that he has not exactly been the best at gifting.
“Okay, then. I have decided what will satisfy me for our 25th anniversary. I want a ring.” I do think Dave went a little pale at that point. He told me later his first thought was, “Oh, no. She finally wants a diamond.”
“I want a ring. And I want to like it, so I will pick it out. But I want you to buy it and give it to me in a way that will make it special. That is what will satisfy me for our 25th anniversary.”
I have to admit that I sort of surprised myself. I am extremely practical….to a fault at times, I admit. Strengths in excess and all that. I have been satisfied for 39+ years with the $40 white gold band Dave gave me when we married. But, for some reason, I wanted a ring for our 25th anniversary. Not to replace anything but to commemorate and celebrate 25 years of making it. An anniversary ring.
I went off looking for a ring that would satisfy me. At Sam’s , I looked at anniversary rings and the salesperson told me they were very popular….which made me want something different. Not what everyone else had. For several weeks, I casually looked at rings at the mall, in jewelry stores, on other women’s fingers. Finally, I went into a specialty jewelry store and saw it. And tried it on. I liked it because it was different.
Rectangular blue sapphire stone, bevel cut. Two tiny diamonds to the side (I liked it inspite of the diamonds and because they were, if they had to be there, tiny). The salesperson told me it was one of a kind…..and that if I wanted it, I should at least put it on lay-away so it would be there for our anniversary. That one-of-a-kind, not-to-be-found-elsewhere ring was truly what would satisfy me.
I told Dave about the ring. He agreed to go and see it. This was in May. Our anniversary is in August. We could put it on lay-away to wait for our anniversary. I had it planned and now it was just Dave’s responsibility to buy it and present it in a way that I would be surprised.
At the store, I tried it on. Dave admired it. He asked me if I really liked it. Was this the ring that would satisfy me? Yes. Definitely. “Then,” my relieved and attentive husband said, “we will take it. Today.”
No waiting for August. Presented in a very clever and thoughtful way. He had heard what I said would satisfy me. And he did it.
I was completely satisfied because I had thought about it. I had considered and weighed and, a crucial piece,—I believed that Dave wanted to satisfy me.
Now, it is a regular practice of mine to think about what will satisfy me. It is not always Dave’s responsibility to satisfy me, of course. I think through options for my day, purchases I need to make, the way I want to dress. Then, I make sure that the way I spend my time and/or my energy and/or my money will be satisfying…that I will be happy with my decision and investment.
Being satisfied is a good way to be. At peace.
(full disclosure….I remember this as being a all-in-one-day mantra day, but I have a feeling that actually, it took a little longer for me to reach this good and deep insight.)