I should quickly note there probably isn't anyone who has ever
heard my wife and I doing battle, intermittently shouting at the top
of our lungs as we gulp down the remnants of a martini shaker, and
occasionally hurling vases and picture frames across the room. In our
house, scenes like that are exclusive to the television, perhaps when
I catch "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" on a classic movie channel.
Those kinds of spectacles are so foreign to our marriage that I
suppose I have an idealized view of them.
There's something appealing about the prospect of screaming and
shouting, ranting through the house, and occasionally flinging
breakables to punctuate a sentence. I've always been facile with
rage, reveling in the cathartic value of hurling a tool in
frustration, or shouting at the stupid, rude, moronic, bone-headed,
inconsiderate, reckless, feebleminded, selfish, foolish, confused,
dumb, insane and idiot drivers who always seem to be headed the same
way I'm going. (Did I mention moronic?)
Unfortunately, engaging in that sort of behavior when dealing with
one's spouse probably encourages the same in response, and just
conjuring up the image of my wife screaming and throwing things at me
is horrifying enough. I've heard her yell at the dogs. I don't want
to imagine that wrath aimed at me.
No, in our house it's extremely unusual for the adults to even
raise their voices during fights. Instead, we are champions of the
sniff. Occasionally we employ the sigh, or the puff. Of course, both
I and my wife are trained and certified in the use of the glare. I
have an advanced degree in the eye roll, and my wife is expert in the
Stand outside our house as we engage in an ugly exchange of
complaints and accusations, and you might think the Rogerses are out
of town. The worst you'll hear is something like a bus releasing its
Nonverbal communication is an art, not a science, and so there is
room for confusion and mistakes. On the other hand, it also makes it
impossible to say something unforgivable. The worst that can happen
is for one spouse to THINK the other has said something unforgivable.