Words often formed in my head: “Why does he always do that? Doesn’t he know how crazy it makes me?”
But Honey has learned to accept the quirks of others. I need to learn from her.
Saturday night I got a message. A friend’s grandmother had died and she needed someone to watch her dog while they traveled out-of-state for the funeral.
Chico had stayed with us before. A dignified, elderly gentleman, he looks like he was born of a union between a chihuahua and rugby ball. Chico is no-nonsense. Or at least, no Honey-nonsense.
Chico is wary when he first comes into the house. He allows a discrete butt sniff but that’s it.
And for the time he is with us, I expect only peaceful co-existence. No play. No snuggling on the couch. No games of chase in the yard.
Luckily, Honey understands.
While she loves entertaining a playful puppy, Honey respects Chico’s boundaries. And she doesn’t ask for anything he’s unwilling to give.
Honey accepts Chico for who he is.
The Spouse You Got
I heard an interesting story on This American Life yesterday about a couple facing conflict in their marriage.
Kristen Finch, a speech therapist, joked with her co-workers about how similar their husbands were to the children with Asperger’s they worked with. Their husbands had trouble listening, could only focus on what was important to them, and didn’t have empathy.
But Kristen began to wonder. And after taking an online quiz on her suggestion, Kristen’s husband David went to a doctor where he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Amazingly, the diagnosis helped their marriage.
For Kristen, realizing that her husband’s missed social cues were part of how his brain was wired made her more patient. And David, realizing that he wasn’t acting like other people, was able to imitate appropriate social behavior even if it didn’t come naturally to him.
David’s diagnosis made it easier for Kristen to accept his quirks.
Quirky People; Quirky Dogs
We have some quirky people in our house.
My husband is mercurial, flowing from hyperactive and silly to gloomy and despairing overnight. He’s stubborn. And he only accepts advice I give him if he hears it from someone else as well.
I have a meltdown if the plans I’ve had for the day change unexpectedly. I worry too much about what other people think about me. And I feel criticized when my husband is just trying to help me.
It’s easy to get frustrated with each other.
After 24 years of marriage and a 5-year friendship before that, you think I’d say of Mike, “Well, that’s just the way he is.”
But I’m afraid I’m not always as accepting of my husband’s quirks as Honey is of Chico’s.
Which is sad. Because it’s the irritating, amusing, and just plain odd things about my husband that make him a wonderful partner and enjoyable friend. And I’d never want to live without the quirks if it meant I didn’t get to spend my life with my best friend.
So I’ll take another lesson from Honey (minus the discreet butt sniff):
Accept others for who they are. If it’s good enough for dogs, it’s good enough for me.