By June Mathews
According to our friend, Bobby, nothing strikes dread in the heart of a man like a spousal pronouncement along these lines: “Honey, I’m hosting a (bridal tea or baby shower or reception… fill in the blank for yourselves, guys), so I’m going to need you to do a few things around the house to help me get ready for it.”
And Bobby ought to know. Wife Connie frequently invites hordes of guests into their home, and by Bobby’s estimation, she’s flung the doors wide at least a hundred times in the past six months. Or so it seems when you’re the one responsible for all the manly tasks involved in spiffing up the venue.
To be fair, Connie’s no mere taskmistress; she works as hard as Bobby does to prepare for these gatherings. She keeps an immaculate house, even when they’re not expecting guests, and their home at its untidiest would put most people’s to shame at their cleanest. Dust hardly lands on the furniture before it’s whisked away, and the kitchen floor – with six grandkids running in and out, no less – bears a spotless sheen.
Connie is also a good cook, often preparing food for guests as efficiently as she readies the place to host them. So it’s not like she’s sitting on the sofa eating bonbons while Bobby toils away.
Thing is, the poor guy never asks for the extra duty. He just does what he’s told (a good quality in a husband, if you ask me), acting as a mere pawn in the preparation game, compelled to pressure-wash the driveway or plant a few more flowers around the gazebo when he’d probably rather sit quietly on the back patio reading a book or monitoring his hummingbird feeders.
When Bobby naively exchanged wedding vows with Connie some 40-odd years ago, I doubt he ever imagined “for better or for worse” would come to mean “the day after a party when I can sit down and relax a while (better) or the day before a party when the pool still needs cleaning and there’s shrubbery yet to be trimmed (worse).”
If you can’t see the marital lesson there, I’ll spell it out: When a lovestruck groom and his starry-eyed bride recite those vows to one another, neither has any way of knowing what they’re really getting themselves into. Marriage is largely a lifelong process of finding common ground wherever you can.
Fortunately for those of us lucky enough to get an invitation to their house on occasion, Bobby and Connie find common ground in hospitality, and their tag-team approach to extending it always works out well. And even though he may shake his head and roll his eyes a bit whenever she kicks into party-planning mode, I have a sneaking suspicion that Bobby may not mind the frenzy – in fact, he’s probably pretty used to it by now – and that he even might enjoy opening their home to guests as much as Connie does.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d jump for joy at the prospect of spending every moment of his otherwise peaceful retirement years preparing to host the next party. But if it meant keeping Connie happy, he’d probably try.
At this point in the year, however, Bobby might be well advised to rest up. The holidays are right around the corner, and he’ll likely have at least one major gathering — or more —to get ready for before long. If not, he’d better get Connie to a doctor because something could be dreadfully wrong.
Email June Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org.