56: If I Didn’t Laugh

56: If I Didn’t Laugh

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

  
If I Didn’t Laugh, I’d Cry

Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.
~Author Unknown

The phone rang just as I finished my morning coffee. I cringed at the insistent intrusion into my day so early in the morning, but I also knew it meant bad news.

“Want me to get that?” I yelled to my husband John.

“No, I will,” he said with resignation in his voice.

We both knew what the call was about before he even picked up the receiver. His sales client for the morning was canceling, again. This was becoming a daily ritual.

With the downturn of the economy John had fewer and fewer sales calls. Designing and selling kitchens wasn’t exactly a lucrative business right now. Add to the mix the fact I had retired early last year due to health challenges, that John is well into retirement age, and, well, “Houston, we have a problem.”

My husband had turned from a loving, carefree guy to being what I called “a grouchapotamus.” We used to laugh and kid about all sorts of things but lately there wasn’t much laughter in our home. I was becoming increasingly tense and John was keeping to himself. I knew something had to give or we were going to explode or implode—I wasn’t sure which.

I called my friend Gerry to chat about my problems.

“Anna, don’t worry. His bad moods are his way of handling what he can’t say. He can’t tell you he’s scared and worried.”

“But, I would tell him if I was,” I argued back.

“Guys aren’t like that,” she counseled. “They just don’t talk like we do.”

“You can bet on that,” I said. “I’m going to try to get him to open up if it kills me.”

“Well, good luck with that,” Gerry replied.

We went on to talk about other happier things, our kids, and the latest television shows.

John had worked in the yard all day and fell asleep right after dinner. So much for our chat.

The next morning I waited until he had finished his coffee and broached the subject of feelings.

“So, how are you feeling about the loss of your clients and sales?” I asked.

“How do you think I feel?” John replied in a testy tone of voice.

Well, suffice it to say, it went downhill from there. Before long we were screaming at each other, hurts were hurled back and forth, and before I knew it I blurted out “I want a divorce.”

“Fine, but you’ll have to leave,” my husband yelled back.

I left the house in tears and jumped in my car. I trembled as I drove in circles for a half hour and finally pulled over and parked in a neighborhood near our house. I hated to call our grown daughter, but she was wise beyond her years and I needed to hear a friendly voice.

“Hi Karen,” I blubbered through my tears.

“Mom, what’s wrong?”

“I think Dad and I are getting a divorce after forty-four years,” I said.

“You’re not serious.”

“Yeah, I just can’t live with him like this. We’re bickering all the time and he won’t talk to me,” I sobbed.

“You two can’t break up. You’ve always worked through the hard times,” she counseled.

“Yeah, but this time is different. He won’t let me in. It’s his damn ego; you know it’s all tied into his performance as a salesman.”

“Go home, talk to him in a loving way. Scott and I had a really bad fight one time and I told him I wanted a divorce. I didn’t know what to say after that. I knew I had to mend things so I prayed, ‘God, you have to help me, I’m lost here, I don’t know where to turn or what to say,’ and when I talked to Scott, the right words just came out. Try it.”

“Ok, I’ll give it a shot. It can’t get any worse,” I said.

I went home but John had left for his weekly sales meeting. I started some laundry and then I made my lunch with a heavy heart. Just as I was putting a pot of tea on the stove, John walked in. My heart flipped when I saw him. What was I going to say?

Before I had a chance to speak, he came over and put his arms around me in a big bear hug.

I was surprised but I hugged him back.

“I love you,” he whispered. “I hate it when we fight.”

“I love you too, so much.”

“So, are you going to divorce me?” he asked with a sheepish grin on his face.

“No, I figured in this economy I can’t afford it,” I replied.

And he let out a big belly laugh, something I hadn’t heard in a long time. I won’t lie and say everything is great all the time, but we started a dialog that night that continues to grow. Maybe it’s the couple that laughs together that stays together.

~Anne Dunne

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