Friday, March 6, 2009

The Significance Of A Lawn Mower

We live in a fairly affluent, snooty little suburb with big tract homes on small pieces of land and nearly everyone uses a lawn service. Spring time rolls in and so do the lawn crews, mowing, edging and blowing on a daily basis until we hit winter again near the end of the year. It is an absolute luxury and one that I resisted for while until two years ago when I realized:

1. I hated mowing the lawn. Seriously hated it.

2. I did a particularly crappy job of mowing the lawn. Probably because I hated it.

So I finally caved and hired a lawn service and my wife came home the night after their first day of service, took a look at the lawn and this conversation ensued:

Her: Wow, the lawn looks great.
Me: Yeah, it does.
Her (after a long pause): You hired a lawn service, didn't you?

It was like night and day. We both liked the way it looked and at that moment, we were willing to part with the amount of money it cost to keep the lawn looking like everyone else's. I knew she wasn't thrilled with the arrangement - she is frugal to the core and the idea of paying someone to cut the grass when I was certainly capable of doing it myself didn't sit all that well with her - but she also knew how much I despised the job, so at the time, I guess she was willing to overlook it.

I say I guess because we never really talked about it. We talked around it, but not about it, which could be said about MANY things in our relationship over the last few years.

Then last year we had a garage sale and we sold our lawn mower. I was happy to see it go - I'd had it for nearly ten years and I had settled in to having our yard look awesome - but she was not. She was irritated and grumpy for days about it, making the occasional dig about how she couldn't believe we'd gotten rid of it. I ignored the digs and again - we didn't talk about it.

And the not talking about it started bubbling over last fall. She was pissed every week when the charge came through for the service. I was pissed at her for not understanding how much I hated mowing the lawn.

(Time out - I don't hate mowing the lawn because I'm lazy - I hate it because my allergies flare, because the structure of our yard - actually every yard we've ever had to maintain - makes it far more difficult to mow than your average yard, because I inevitably get stung and bit by multitudes of insects and because in the nearly thirteen years that we've owned property together, I'm the only that has ever done it. So while I can be lazy, this wasn't about laziness. Back to our story...)

And again - we didn't talk about it.

At the end of the season, she was adamant that we weren't hiring anyone this year and I was just as adamant that I wasn't going to do it.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

We just stopped communicating. Talked around things, rather than about them. Talked at one another, rather than with one another. Selling that lawn mower was a signal to her that I just didn't understand her anymore, that I didn't give a shit about spending money, that I didn't get the pressure she felt as the sole salary earner in our family and that I didn't get that my not mowing the lawn felt to her like I just didn't care about our home or our family.

I didn't see that then, but I see it now.

The lawn service was due to start next week. I canceled it last week, confirmed the cancellation yesterday. She was pretty surprised and then expressed concern about my allergies.

It was nice to hear, but I've got medication.

And I bought a used lawn mower for $60 this morning.

I guess it's the little things.


  1. It is the little things. Would it be okay if I contacted you privately? I have your email address from when you commented on my site and I have a question to ask you.

  2. Toni - of course - anytime. I've also put the email in my profile here as well if folks have questions - and, uh, seems they do so far...:)

  3. Can I ask why it is that it takes your wife cheating on you to get you to look at yourself?

    When I say "you" I am talking in general. I want DH to look at himself, or "us" rather in this way...but I cannot get through. I don't want to cheat to get his attention...and I won't...but we will probably fail either way if he won't start taking some responsibility for our problems...

    What else could your wife have done to get you to look at your marriage so seriously?

  4. Jen O - it's a great question and one I'm afraid I don't have a great answer for. So I'll give you two answers.

    On one hand, I like to think that if my wife had sat me down, slapped me across the face, then taken my hands in hers, looked me in the eye and said "We are in trouble here" that I would've seen it all and taken action to get myself together. The problem with that scenario is that I was at a point where I wasn't a great listener and she wasn't a great talker - I fear that even if that had happened, we would've once again, talked around the issues and solved nothing.

    So on the other hand - and this was a brutally difficult realization to come to - I'm not sure there was anything else that would've snapped me out of whatever I was in. With my career dying on the vine, I felt pretty worthless - embarrassed, humiliated, angry, etc - and I was just so withdrawn. In a really screwed up way, I felt I was protecting her from that crap. I know it doesn't make sense, but that's what it felt like I was doing when all I was really doing was pushing her away. I needed something to absolutely stab me in the heart in order to wake up and I'm not sure if there was anything else that would've done it. (And to be clear - she didn't do it to snap me out of it - she thought I wouldn't snap out of it and that our marriage was over - so she followed her own admittedly screwed up path into this.)

    We'll never know, we'll drive ourselves crazy if we spend forever wondering, so we're just trying to let that sit behind us and move forward.