Vacuum cleaners are kind of a sore spot in my house, mostly because of a major lapse in judgment I made about a year ago when my dear, sweet, wonderful wife approached me about purchasing a new vacuum cleaner. We were living on a tight budget, and because vacuums are expensive, I asked her to explain what was wrong with the el cheapo vacuum cleaner that we already owned. She told me a few things that were apparently wrong with it, but in general the explanation was that it just wasn’t up to snuff.
Now, of course, this is the part where I screwed up.
I wasn’t particularly satisfied with her explanation, so I asked her for a demonstration of how our vacuum was not sufficient. I told her that I would happily agree to buy a new vacuum in exchange for proof of her assessment. This seemed entirely reasonable to me–I even offered to get some dirt from outside and put it on the floor so we could test it. Maybe some cereal or other crumbly food items–the particulate did not matter, because I was sure she would see the rationality of such a test. You discerning readers already see how I was wrong–so very, very wrong.
As became clear to me in time, by demanding a demonstration, I had essentially called my wife a liar and disputed her accounting of what it is like to use a crappy vacuum on a regular basis with two little kids nipping at her heels. So, after a little budgeting, my wife got herself the new vacuum she wanted. But here’s the thing–I did not agree we needed a new vacuum because I finally conceded that our old vacuum was insufficient for our floors, but because I realized that being in a marriage sometimes demands that we do things we don’t want to do, for reasons we don’t entirely understand (or want to admit).
As another example, a good friend of mine recently confided in me that he had, at his wife’s earnest pleading, purchased a Roomba. He was obviously ashamed of this purchase, so I didn’t berate him too heavily, because I also realize that his decision to spend money on such a ridiculous (and ridiculously named) item was similar to my own–and could only be understood from the standpoint of a man trying to please his wife.
So, because it is Monday and because Father’s Day is not coming for about 357 days, and there’s plenty of time to repent and apologize, let’s have the goods: What have you done for your wife (or kids) not because you wanted to (even though you said you did), but because you’re in it for the long haul and you love them?