Twenty-six years ago today, my wife and I started our lives together with me breaking the unity candle just before our wedding, kicking off our marriage with laughter. (I wrote about it here on our twentieth anniversary: Twenty. Laughing. Random trivia: An image search for “Keanu Reeves wedding” brings up the wedding photo of Kim and I that appears in that post.)
When you spend this much time married to someone, you pick up on all sorts of quirks and personality traits, learn to read the other person’s signals, and generate something of an interpersonal shorthand. That’s true of Kim and I, with one glaring omission.
Even after 26 years of marriage, and 29 years knowing each other, we’re utter crap at direct non-verbal communication. It’s become a running joke. With some couples, a glance, a nod, a shift of the eyebrows conveys all sorts of meaning. “Should we leave this party?” or “We might have time to watch a movie tonight, but I don’t want to suggest it out loud or else the child will get her hopes up.”
Here’s a typical exchange between Kim and I:
Me: Eyebrows raised, shifts eyes.
Kim: Shakes head, looks confused.
Me: Raises eyebrows more dramatically.
Kim: Shrugs in an obvious That doesn’t help at all gesture.
Me: (Out loud) “I’m thinking of making a hot beverage. Would you like one, or are you going to bed soon?”
Kim: “Oh, why didn’t you just say so? Sure.”
We don’t know why this is the case, and it works in both directions, but it’s obvious that we’re pretty hopeless. It’s become yet another thing to laugh about together.
But that’s okay. I’m looking forward to working on our communications over the next 26 years and beyond. It will be more important then, since we’ll both likely be hard of hearing at that point.