Shut Up, My Love

I knew Clark was the one from the moment he crushed a mouse that had been running around my condo for weeks.  The sneaky rodent had been carefully avoiding and even blatantly raiding the traps I’d set (I was bound and determined not to kill him; I have no stomach for that sort of thing).

One evening, early in our relationship together, I was lamenting to Clark about my new rodent problem.  Suddenly,  he jumped up from the table having spotted the tiny creature running across the foyer floor. With lightning-fast speed, he lept from his chair and dove across the room. He grabbed his shoe off the floor and whacked the unsuspecting mouse.


As we disposed of the dearly departed mouse, I knew I was going to marry Clark someday.

Please meet my mouse killer extraordinaire, Clark. 


Pictured here with his lifetime love…the french fry.

He’s my everything, and I can’t imagine my life without him.

But, I gotta tell ya… it’s not always all roses and dead mice around here.

Those of you who are married, have a significant other or have to speak to other humans on a regular basis know what it’s like to navigate the harsh terrain of communication through good times and bad.  You know what it’s like trying to make sure both parties are heard and, more importantly, understood.

It’s no walk in the park.

And, while I’ve spent my career studying, teaching, treating and coaching others through communication problems, in schools, hospitals, and in the corporate world, I’ve learned the most about communication here at home, with Clark.

Here’s what our communication looks like most of the time;

I use 1,567 words to describe the three things I need him to get from the grocery store.

He responds to my comments, statements, and questions with “Hmph.”

I process information out loud (with copious amounts of exaggerations, punctuated with expletives).

He processes things internally, may take a week to respond to a question, and rarely uses bad words.

I freely share my thoughts about decorating, politics, and his attire (sometimes all in one breath) without any real filtering, or even thinking through what I’m saying.

He patiently lets me go on…not saying a word.

He could argue about the decorations, but he doesn’t.

He has opinions about politics, but won’t unwittingly argue with me.

He even takes my “Are you really going to wear those baggy jeans in public?” in stride.

I know there are times he wants to shout “SHUT UP ALEX!”  

…but he doesn’t.

His simple act of saying nothing, even when he wants to or would be justified in doing so is one of the most significant expressions of his love for me.

His ability not to comment on things that don’t really matter has kept us from fighting over decorator pillows, elections and…

well… I’m sorry, I needed to argue about the jeans, that’s all me.

Now…don’t get the idea that my hubby is some sort of a pushover who lets me get by with saying whatever I want whenever I want. That’s hardly the case.

He is a master of knowing when to say something and when to let something go for the greater good. Although he is very intelligent and formulates his own opinions, he knows that he doesn’t always have to express his thoughts to feel validated or to invalidate someone else. ( e.g., he doesn’t have to argue about the jeans; he merely wears them and moves on with his day).

I wonder what would happen in our workplaces, homes, and the world in general if we all took a page from Clark’s book and became masters at learning when not to say something?  If we shut ourselves up…not because our thoughts aren’t valid, or maybe even right, but because we care about others around us enough to know when not to start a fight, diminish a perspective, or debate irrelevant points.  

Perhaps we’d be able to really listen to one another, understand each other, and keep our perspectives in check…and wouldn’t that be a great expression of love to give to each other for Valentine’s Day?


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5 replies
  1. Jason Barnaby
    Jason Barnaby says:

    I was thinking a similar thought yesterday when a consultant at work who is originally from India shared some tea with me and told me about the health benefits of some of the tea’s ingredients. I even said to him—I think the world would be a better place if we all sat down to a cup of tea or coffee and learned about where it came from and about the person sitting on the other side of the table.
    While sipping said beverage we could all practice the art of shutting up at different times and see where that journey would take us. Just sayin’…


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