Speak Eagle

Jack

My husband does a lot around the house. He mows. And he…mows. I know he does a lot of other things, but mowing comes to mind first. And second.

One evening, I was up to my elbows in dishwater and inwardly seething over the very long list of Mommy-do’s, and the seemingly much shorter list of Daddy-do’s. I glanced over to see my husband sitting in a cushy chair reading. I said calmly, “Honey, if we did the dishes together they would get done much more quickly.”

He immediately got up out of his chair and came into the kitchen to help me. On the way, however, he remarked, “That comment felt a little loaded. Want to tell me what’s behind it?”

My inward seething started crawling towards my mouth, slowly at first, then trotting, then galloping until it burst out flaming, “Yeah! Sometimes I feel like you don’t do jack!”

Now, you need to know that I am a communication professional. I teach communication at a college. I coach executives on how to communicate in more healthy ways in the workplace. I have thought of writing a book on communication in marriage someday.

So, for good reason, my husband looked at me with raised eyebrows and my insult hung in the air for about 30 seconds.

I could see him visibly biting his tongue, resisting the urge to defend himself. “You really feel that way?” he asked.

“Right now, yes.” And then I offered, “I know you do a lot. I mean, you…you mow. And I know mowing is…hard work.”

Of course, it doesn’t seem so bad to do hard work that looks great immediately and stays done for a whole week.

“I guess I just feel…lonely,” I told him. “Sometimes I feel overwhelmed in my household responsibilities, and I don’t feel quite so lonely when we do them together.”

He started scraping plates. “I’m sorry you feel lonely. I’d be glad to clean the kitchen.”

Why do we waste time seething when all we need to do is ask? I suppose sometimes we think slamming cupboards is more persuasive than making a simple request.

As I watched him up to his elbows in dishwater, I thought back to all of the things he does- the most important things- like playing catch with our boys and surprising me with breakfast in bed, paying never-ending bills and leaving me love notes in the kitchen. Today he’s even hanging shelves in the laundry room.

I want to take back my “Jack,” flare. But you can’t take back Jack.

This morning I found a new kind of love note in the kitchen.

note from Jack
Let my communication techniques serve as a warning to you. Don’t ever invoke the name of Jack when you are angry. He just might become a permanent member of your family.

13 thoughts on “Jack”

  1. Pingback: Just Say No to Snapping Turtles | Dr. Heidi PetakDr. Heidi Petak

  2. I totally can relate. Because, well, Jack occasionally lives at my house too. I was reading the windshield post and got lost among your words, Heidi! Good stuff!

  3. Love this post. I totally get it. Glad you’re hanging onto your “Jack.” I’ll hang onto mine, too. 🙂

  4. I am married over twenty years and I got every word of this post. I read it with a smile and many nods of the head. I especially liked the part about him mowing!

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