My husband says that I am a rule follower. I get the impression this is more of an insult than a compliment. But yes, for the most part, I am a rule follower. Early years of Catholic schools scared the living daylights out of me. I stayed clear of trouble then and I stay clear of trouble now.
My partner, my husband, the love of my life is not a rule follower if in his opinion the “rule is stupid”. He is a rule breaker, rarely afraid to question the status quo. I have a visceral, negative reaction whenever I sense he is about to “challenge” some questionable, silly rule. My heart starts to beat a little faster, beads of sweat appear on my forehead. And, if there is an escape route, I will find it and meet up with him post damage control.
After many years of marriage, most couples find a rhythm. One can signal the other with a blink of the eye. We are at the point now, where a mere incline of the head sends a profound wordless message, “don’t even think about it”.
So when we found our community garden tomatoes soaked from the adjoining garden plot’s irrigation, this rule-breaking husband of mine utters, “Their water is on a timer, running too long and too hard, soaking our tomatoes. Timers are against the rules according to the community garden by-laws.”
The garden should be watered when thirsty no more and no less. He decides to take this issue up with them for the sake of a late summer tomato harvest. My non-verbal head tilt he ignored.
You’d think that this rule follower would have been in complete agreement with him. But, apparently, in addition to being a rule follower, I also have confrontation issues. I did not want our community garden neighbors to make me dread seeing them every time the vegetables needed weeding or a squirt of water. Or worse yet, sabotage our lovely plot with their unruly weeds.
The exchange went something like this:
He considered disabling their timer. “That would be rude,” I lament.
He searches for their phone number to inform them. Can’t find it. Whew.
He fantasizes about making it look like an accident that the timer malfunctioned. Now I’m intrigued, but too sinister.
No, there had to be a diplomatic way of dealing with this even though my husband was right. My influence must have rubbed off on him just a bit. He leaves me to finish the weeding, crosses the dry creek that separates our street from the garden and heads home.
Twenty minutes later my husband emerges, note in hand carefully enclosed with a plastic cover left over from our daughters high school days. Message diplomatically written with a request too adjust the water. I was so impressed!
Two days and a pleasant phone call later our garden neighbors were happy to make the adjustments!
Husband pleased, wife thrilled, tomatoes tasty.