Friends, this Reflection is one I wrote over a year ago. However, a few women have asked that I reprint it on my new blog. Apparently, they want their husbands to read it AGAIN.
This started out as one of those unsolicited advice letters to my sons and sons-in-law that I periodically offer them in the area of marriage and romance. (By the way, the two are not mutually exclusive.) The advice must be good as my daughters and daughter-in-law frequently respond with “Keep writing Dad, keep writing!” Recognizing that guys need all the help they can get in the area of romance, I decided last year to share it with all the men within my circle of influence. It proved to be one of the most popular articles I have ever written.
This particular lesson is one I learned from my late wife and what better way to honor her then to pass it on to gentlemen-in-need. Besides, it is also one of the favorites of my new bride and she has graciously and heartily endorsed its republication.
So, guys, read it, heed it or learn to duck. I hear that a thrown spatula is wickedly accurate. I hope you enjoy, “How to Handle an Angry Spatula”.
How to Handle an Angry Spatula
To the Men I Know,
Guys, pay attention. You are about to get another lesson on affection and tenderness. Yes, you have heard me speak of this before, but I have concluded that men are much like a Dairy Queen ice cream cone — they have to be dipped in the chocolate more than once for it to stick. So yes, you need to hear this. You are a male. Enough said.
Early in our marriage, I recall walking into the kitchen where my wife was preparing dinner. Standing behind her, I rested my hands on her hips and gently kissed her shoulder. Softly, I moved across until my last kiss found the nape of her neck. At that point, she spun around with a spatula waving in her hand, stared me in the eye and proclaimed, “I know what you want Buddy McElhannon”. Now whenever she used two names to address me, I always held my breath. Sometimes it was a good thing and sometimes, well, I might as well go ahead and take a cold shower.
While I had come to realize that romance for a woman is spelled tenderness, I had fallen into a habit of displaying affection as a means to an end. She had grown cynical knowing such affectionate overtures had a motive of pure self-interest. I was to learn that she especially appreciated those moments when a display of affection was the end in itself and not always a prelude for more.
Fortunately, I was a quick learner. Throughout our marriage, I looked for opportunities to express my love and respect for her through tender touches. Holding her hand while walking through the mall, or watching a movie. Giving her a foot rub after she spent a long day as a nurse. Holding her for an extended hug or giving her a tender kiss that simply communicated that she was the most important person in my life and all I wanted to do at that moment was hold her in my arms and kiss her softly.
Years later, in our 50’s, my wife confessed how she admired gentleness as a strong masculine trait. After all, she reminded me, gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and, as such, represents the ultimate example of strength under control. She came across a quote by St. Jerome, one that she wrote down and gave to me. It read, “There is nothing so strong as gentleness and nothing so gentle as real strength.” She knew God made man the stronger vessel physically, so when my words and touches were tender and gentle, she felt loved rather than an object of lust. Complement that with words of affirmation rather than criticism and she felt her spirit being refreshed and nourished.
Guys, learn to seek out such tender moments. Spark emotional intimacy first through conversation and even helping out in the kitchen. Learn to listen. Put the paper/smartphone/remote control down, turn off the TV and listen. Then, instead of planting seeds of rejection and disappointment in your beloved, your romantic efforts will enhance your spouse’s self-esteem and her admiration for you will grow. Needless to say, praying together promotes a spiritual intimacy that is foundational to emotional and physical oneness.
In other words, the grass is greener where it’s watered.
I remember one morning I left for work and put a post-it note inside the kitchen cabinet door where she kept all of our spices. Knowing that sometime that day she would open the door and be surprised to read a note that said, “T, you are the joy of my heart. Love you, B”. Sappy? Yes. Sentimental? Yes. Appreciated? Oh my yes!
She left the note in place for YEARS.
So when I was staring at that spatula being waved in my face, I responded with a most certain honesty and said, “Honey, all I want is to kiss you right here, right now.” And the only sound heard after we quietly embraced was the echo of a spatula falling to the floor.
Learn to be affectionate, to be tender in word and deed — with no expectations —and I promise you, your marriage will be stronger, your wife will begin to describe you as a romantic, and you will likely not have to come face to face with an angry spatula.