Doing a little research on why our culture has such a high divorce rate, and I discovered that experts, while not necessarily in unison about the ranking order of the most common reasons, do agree on the topics. Lack of communication (the Mars-Venus thing), finances (one of you is a penny-pincher, one of you spends like the Apocalypse is coming), and sexual differences (one of you prefers bedtime only, preferably in the dark, and the other wants to add props, costumes and, if your partner is willing, the hot 35-year-old woman from down the street).
I’ve been married three times. I don’t know if that makes me an expert or a complete failure, but Hubs and I have been married for 17 years, so I’m choosing option number one. I think of my first two marriages as kind of a training ground for the real deal. They’re where I made my biggest mistakes and learned the most valuable lessons. One of those lessons is to pick your battles. Some things are worth fighting about and some just aren’t worth the drama. The women in my girls’ night out group (many on their second, if not third marriages) all seem to agree on one thing. One of the greatest gifts to lasting marital bliss is the Little White Lie.
Not to be confused with the Big Lie (“No, it wasn’t me that ran over your dog,” “No, I did not take $1000 out of our savings account for that fabulous new handbag I’ve been coveting. We must have been hacked,” or “No way. I did not sleep with your old college roommate when he spent the weekend with us at the cabin”) when, in fact, you did do those things.
Little white lies are just that. They’re meant to spare hurt feelings or keep unnecessary drama or conflict to a minimum. If what you’re doing doesn’t involve concealing the body in your trunk, it’s okay, occasionally, to soften the blow with a fib. You’re the only one that knows what those topics are in your marriage. A huge issue in our house might be considered silly at yours. I knew a woman who drove around for two months with an expensive coffee maker in her back seat because she didn’t want her husband to know what she’d spent on it, even though it came out of her checking account. I would have just dropped it on the counter top and asked Hubs to go get me a screwdriver. But then, she never has to explain her clothing expenses, while I’ve learned that “Oh, this? I’ve had it for years” is the smartest reply to any questions about a new item in my closet. Every marriage is different.
The most interesting thing about little white lies is that most women will tell you that their husbands know they’re fibbing. He’s picking his battles too. He also knows that when he asks you if he’s still as hot as he was in high school, you’ll reply “Absolutely.” Boom. Now you’re both happy. In my ongoing crusade to open the lines of communication between husbands and wives, today I’m giving men a glimpse into what women aren’t always totally truthful about.
- “It was on sale.” It wasn’t, and you know it. And she knows that you know. But she really, really wanted it. And look at her smiling, happy face. The extra $40 that she paid for full retail isn’t worth a blow-up, is it?
- “Be honest. Do you like my new haircut?” No, no, no. Unless, of course, you truly do love it, this is definitely not a time for you to be totally honest. It’s done, and nothing but time will put it back. She’s not a Chia pet. The only possible response is “I love it either way.”
- “No, I don’t think you’re fat.” When you ask her if you look like you’ve packed on a few over the years, or if you’re looking older, she’s probably going to lie, because she loves your chubby ass. Besides, if you’ve gained 50 pounds since your Gamma Gamma Gamma days and you’re 62, you already know the answer.
- “I don’t want anything for my birthday.” A classic. Many (oh, so many) men have fallen for this one, only to realize that wasn’t exactly true. This is often what we say, but what we mean is that we don’t want to just pick something out and have you buy it for us. Or God forbid, buy it ourselves and call it our gift from you. What we want is an effort on your part to select something you know we’d like, have it wrapped, and give it to us as a surprise. It shows us that you’ve been paying attention.
- “I bought this two years ago.” Even better when followed with “Don’t you remember? I wore it to Stan and Biffy’s Christmas party.” This immediately shifts the focus from her to you. The question is no longer about her (“Are you buying more clothes?”) and is now about you (“Do you even see me anymore??”). This is one of the more popular items in the female arsenal.
- “There’s nothing about you I would change.” Oh for the love of God, you know that one isn’t true. Of course she would change a few things to get to the “new and improved you.” It’s what we do. Nothing big. Small, but annoying habits (You don’t tip. You never put the toilet seat back down. You use the F word. A lot). Or that tie-dyed t-shirt you love to wear all weekend. Every weekend. And then there’s your 20-year-old beer bottle collection you keep insisting would look great on the living room wall and would “make the house more fun.” We realize, of course, that there might be a few tweaks you’d make to us, but we’re not talking about us right now. We’re focusing on you.
- “No thanks. I don’t want dessert.” Bahahahaha. Women love chocolate. Women love chocolate desserts. Our dinner selection is often guided by what we’re having for dessert. Big dessert? Caesar salad. Tiny dessert? Steak. But we aren’t going to order it if you don’t want any. It makes us feel like linebackers to sit there and have you watch us eat. The gentlemanly thing to do is to order the dessert you know we want. Then ask for two forks.