Field Notes

The key to a successful marriage: Lots of patience (mostly from her)

The key to a successful marriage: Lots of patience (mostly from her)
This killer whale did not eat the author.

The former Amy S. takes a deep breath. She sighs. She takes another deep breath. She is at the end of her rope.

Again.

"Were you raised by wolves?" She asks me. "Were you born in a cave?"

It is a ridiculous question on several levels.

One, she has been camping with me and knows that I have zero wilderness survival skills. If I had been raised by wolves, that clearly would not be the case. Two, she has met my parents - her in-laws - and clearly they are not wolves.

At the same time, to be fair, the question is not entirely unjustified.

We were having lunch at a place on the harbor and I was having fish and chips. I broke off a piece of fish with my fingers. And then used my fingers to place the fish on the fork.

While I looked at the situation and felt I should be praised for including the fork in the process. I had looked into her brown eyes and could see trouble.

We were getting ready to spend several hours on a ship looking for whales and it was evident that she was contemplating how she would have to explain to people why she was the only one who returned.

"Accidents happen at sea," she would say. "It is tragic."

After all, we were going to see killer whales.

We are up here in Victoria celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary, more than ten and a half years together. If I remember correctly the over/under on us in Vegas was seven years.

It had nothing to do with how compatible we are and all to do with the question of how much would she be willing to put up with me.

I assume that someone has gotten wealthy as a result of her patience.

And she is patient.

Not that long ago, she and I were with a friend - also a woman - and it came up that there had been a study showing that women have evolved more than men. I am quite sure that that was not the actual result but that was how it was being presented in conversation.

The two of them looked at each other and nodded. They then looked at me and shook their heads in disappointment.

The former Amy S. has certainly endured a lot waiting for me to evolve.

Every time that I pull some obscure fact from the recesses of my brain - the year a book came out, the details of a crime story covered long ago, the phone number of a source I haven't spoken with in years - the response is the same.

She shakes her head and says, "that knowledge is in your head instead of remembering  to wipe the counters and put the newspapers in recycling."

She is not wrong.

Recently, one morning when I was half asleep - maybe 75% - after a long day of doctor appointments and work, she explained to me that it would make her life easier if I could complete one mission for her.

"Please hang up the clothes from the wash," she pleaded.

Somehow my brain translated that to please take the dog to get her nails done and get her some more food. And those things I did accomplish. While the clothes remained unhung.

I believe the former Amy S. was also close to the end of her rope that day. I pointed out that while I did not accomplish the mission she had left me, I had accomplished something.

We both rejoiced in that small victory.

And that really is what marriage is all about - helping each other change for the better and celebrating small victories as if they are the seventh game of the World Series.

More than once, she has compared me to a puppy - a bit infuriating on occasion but cute enough that all is usually forgiven fairly quickly.

On the ship, I bang my head, not noticing a low beam. Not much later, I make the exact same mistake.

She shakes her head and smiles as she as asks if I am okay.

Clearly she is in this for the long run.

Take that Vegas.