U Iron your socks don't you? Day 28 of 365

U Iron your socks don’t you? Day 28 of 365 (Photo credit: DieselDemon)

A soon-to-be cousin from the other side of the family, young and single, at a recent family wedding asked me if it is true that men have to be trained after they are married and if they are trainable.

My husband and I looked at each other and both said, “the iron.”

My husband broke the ice.

“Both people train each other to what they need.”

Then, I told the story.

On some occasion, I no longer remember whether it was a birthday or Christmas, but let’s just say it was Christmas, my husband gave me an iron.

He knows better now than to give such a practical gift. But, it was a nice iron, irons aren’t cheap and it was early in our marriage when money was not spent lightly.

To a guy, there is nothing better than a good tool.

And, to a guy, they’d rather have something they could actually use rather than one more tie to hang in their closet.

Even a dozen nice handkerchiefs are better than another tie, but pretty much any tool is a good gift.

So, of course, he thought I would appreciate it.

And, this is where the training comes in.

You have to learn that just because you would like something doesn’t mean it would be special to the other person.

For me, as I imagine for most women, a household tool or appliance as a gift does two things.

It suggests her husband thinks of her primarily in terms of her function as a housekeeper.

I know now that this is not what he intends. He intends to make her life easier with a good tool just as he imagines how much easier his life will be every time he buys himself a tool.

It also suggests he has not been paying attention to hints she has probably dropped by commenting on something she particularly likes but won’t buy for herself because she doesn’t need it and it would be an extravagance.

In my family, we were not allowed to ask for things directly because our parents wanted the freedom to give us what they thought we would like and what they could afford.

So, we were only allowed to hint and we were supposed to be watching out for what others in the family liked when we bought gifts for them.

I thought all families did this.

This is where the mutual training comes in in a marriage.

For me, a personal extravagance, preferably one I’d been hinting at, was exactly the kind of gift I wanted my husband to get me.

In my husband’s family, by contrast, they flat out told each other what they wanted, a practice I found crude and rude, but learned to adopt after the blue-watch incident.

In the early years of our marriage, since my husband didn’t have the drop-hints or express wishes habit common in my family, I started going Christmas shopping with him a few weeks before Christmas.

If he showed an unusual interest in something, I went back later and got it for him.

One year, he lingered over and commented on how beautiful and interesting a watch was that had a blue face.

When he opened it on Christmas morning, he said, “What is this?” “Well, you really seemed to like that watch, so I got it for you.”

“I liked it, but that doesn’t mean I wanted it.” Oops. After that, we had a serious discussion about how to buy gifts for each other.

The first time he asked me what I wanted, after the iron-as-a -gift and blue-watch incidents, I cried. I’d never been asked before.

The last time my watch broke, we went watch-shopping together. My watch now has a blue face.

My reaction to the iron? Not just vague disappointment that he hadn’t been paying attention to what I liked, but also curiosity.

“But, I have an iron,” I told him questioningly as I held it up.

“Yours doesn’t work.”

January 24, 1968. Happy 46.

 This post was first published as a guest post on A Handful of Everything. Thanks, Krista!

 

Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

http://newgrandmas.com

 

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