My wife and four of her friends turn 50 this year. So they decided to throw a birthday party for themselves - that's the kind of women they are. They invited about 40 of their "closest friends" over for dessert and a long gregarious evening was had by all.
Before the desserts, the couples got together for dinner and our host toasted the "alpha women" - the college professor, the banker, the best-selling author, and the public official. The "Alpha women" phrase was his, but was eagerly adopted by the women themselves - you could tell it fit their self-image.
So who are the husbands of the "alpha women?" The elected public official (not married to the other public official, however), the poet, the english professor (not married to the other professor), and me. Jeez, I don't know what I am - technology evangelist, author, wrangler of complex databases, father.
It was such a beautiful moment, such (in some ways) and innocent moment, but one that reminds me how little we know about our friends. I am willing to bet good money that none of the other couples deal with this issue that I grapple with daily - wanting to deal directly with the issues of power in our relationship. On the other hand, do I know that? No. Are they happily married? I think I know them well enough to say "Yes", several though dint of hard work on their relationships; others I know less well.
Is it fair to my wife that I deal with this - that at some level we have to deal with it? I suspect not. But, as we so often tell our kids, life isn't necessarily fair. And I appreciate the work she's done with me on this in the past, and I'm still getting up the gumption for what I suspect we'll have to do in the future.
In the meanwhile, I'm still trying to be more attentive to those little comments of hers - "You could..." Little tiny things (in the context of a busy weekend) - eating chips on a picnic, saying "I should stop eating these but they're too good," to which she responded "Just put them away." Normally, I'd have blown that comment off, but instead I did the double take and put the chips back in the box. It was fun, too.
There are more difficult moments. It was stunningly beautiful out, the kind of day on which I have to get out and do something. My preference was a slightly-more-than-modest hike up a local mountain. She hated that idea, and rather than sulk about it, we talked about alternatives, ending up with a long bike trip in which she met me for lunch half-way through. Was that a "wife-led" moment? Not necessarily, but it was two people working together to come out with a plan that worked for both.
I like that. I think she did too.
4 days ago