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Down Home

Down Home: Just call it job security

The other day, Joanna asked me to get up from my chair in the den, walk into the kitchen and open a jar.

I didn’t mind helping my wife. Not one bit.

Just call it job security.

Jo has a hard time gripping tightly enough to open lots of jars. Particularly jars with wide lids, like pickle jars and mayonnaise jars. So, if we buy a new jar and she wants pickles or mayonnaise or jelly, I’m the guy she calls.

Pickle jars bother me the most. You know why? They’re filled with pickle juice. To get enough leverage to open a large pickle-jar lid, I hold it up close to my chest. But if I don’t open it smoothly—if the jar shakes when the lid pops—then the next thing I’m doing is heading to the bedroom to change my shirt. Nobody wants to walk around with a pickle juice-smelling shirt.

She still needs me

Sometimes, I tell Jo that opening jars is my all time-favorite chore. It’s probably the only task around the house she absolutely, positively cannot do herself. So, as long as there are new jars to open, she still needs me.

Some people fear global apocalypse, another stock market crash or re-emergence of the plague. Me? I’m afraid someone will invent a robot that opens pickle jars.

If someone invented a robot like that—let’s call him Robo-Husband—Jo might realize she doesn’t need me. Since he’d be a robot, Robo-Husband wouldn’t eat, so she wouldn’t have to cook. He wouldn’t have a brain or free will, so he wouldn’t care how things get done around the house. And he wouldn’t snore.

Jo might be tempted to trade a hungry, picky, snoring husband for a robot like that.

Boosting my perceived marital value

To enhance my perceived marital value, I also gladly agree to do things Jo can do but prefers not to do. Like taking out the trash and feeding Topanga, whom she refers to as my dog.

The idea is to build a case that, for all my faults and bother, having a husband is better than not having a husband.

Jo, as well as our daughters, Lindsay and Molly, would tell you I’m verbally affectionate. I like telling them I love them. (Sometimes, we all wonder why I’m so gonzo about telling them I love them. But since you’re not my psychologist, and I’m not lying on a couch paying you perfectly good money to listen to me, we’ll drop that subject.) I enjoy telling Jo I love her so much, I often try to use other words to say, “I love you.” (But, as with figuring out my issues, the details are none of your business.)

That’s good as far as it goes. And I’m a huge advocate of telling people you love that you love them. But eventually, you need to show it.

Opening pickle jars is a good start.

One of my best efforts in a long time happened the Saturday Jo came home to a spic-n-span clean house. We both enjoy living in a clean house, but neither of us enjoys house-cleaning. Especially dusting.

Love is not a one-way street

As soon as Jo smelled our clean house, she started fussing at me, reminding me she would have helped me clean it later. But cleaning our house that day made me happy, because it was a tangible way to show the light of my life I love her.

Of course, love and affection don’t occupy a one-way street. Jo doesn’t open pickle jars, but she slaves away at all kinds of tasks to show me she loves me. She cooks my favorite dishes, even the ones she’s not so crazy about. She keeps our books and prepares our taxes. She cuts my hair.

She doesn’t need to do all that for marital job security, though. I appreciate it, for sure. But if all those perks dissolved, I’d still be the happiest guy each time she calls my name in the morning, kisses me when I come home from work, and laughs beside me after we turn out the light just before we drift off to sleep.

I’m so thankful I get to open her pickle jars.

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