September 14, 2001
Much Ado about nothing neatly sums up Misunderstandings. Comedians enjoy
exploiting them as fodder for sit coms. Consider this illustrative fiction:
Both married partners have identical birth dates. Let's call them Rick
Beth is annoyed because she feels that the romance is gone so she
decides to ignore gift giving this year. She approaches Rick with the idea and much to
her chagrin he agrees. Now she has another point against him because secretly
she hoped he'd protest and insist on doing something that would rekindle the
honeymoon status. What she did not know was that he was planning a huge party and then a
trip to the Bahamas for a reinstatement of their vows. Rick thought she might have
something similar up her sleeve because of her announcement, so he contacted one
of her friends to spy on her thoughts so that their two separate plans would not
create havoc. When he was told that she really had no plans he was pleased. Rick
was so engrossed in his own scheme that it never occurred to him that his mate
was angry with him.
Rick used many of his wife's girl friends and his female coworkers to help
implement his plan. (The men were not interested in participating. The women
all wished that their husbands would think up similar concepts.) He didn't want
any information about the trip to show up on his computer. He made one slip out
of desperation that time was running short to email his coworker, Dolly to ask
her to pick up flowers for his wife. His soul mate had caught him just as he was
hanging up the phone a few times. He had a sheepish look on his face. Beth
investigated the email and then the phone call by dialing *69. Both contacts were
made to Dolly.
Beth called Dolly's husband and spoke to him. He knew what was
transpiring so he suggested that Dolly and Rick had business affairs to discuss. Beth
said,"She's really pulled the wool over your eyes. I'm not so naive."
Beth's former schoolmates were sticking up for her husband, trying to
allay Beth's suspicions, but that only made her more doubtful. She felt they were
his sympathizers not hers. She felt betrayed. Nor did her companions want to
inform her husband that while he was planning a fantastic party and trip of a
lifetime on a Love Boat cruiser! , Beth was moving toward the divorce court. They did
not want to deflate his excitement. They felt that once she discovered his real
motives she'd no longer be upset.
Beth noticed his fervor and attributed it to an infatuation with Dolly.
The tension was growing between the couple, but Rick decided it was her concern
that her plans would conflict with his. Beth's closest friends assured him that
that was definitely not the case so he forgot about it and concentrated on
finalizing the details to make certain that they were coordinated. Rick was having a
limo pick them up and drive them to the airport. His own car was in the repair
shop so Beth would not even imagine that they were going to go anywhere.
The birth date arrived. The party completely floored Beth, but she didn't
immediately thaw out. Dolly got her aside and explained what had transpired,
leaving out the twelve o'clock limo. Beth viewed Dolly's account skeptically.
However, more and more of her friends reinforced the story. When her female
confidant, Diane thrust a present into her hand and said, "It's bathrobe for Rick."
Beth's eyes explored Diane's face. Beth was having difficulty aligning her version
of what happened with what actually transpired. Diane said,"You told me that
you hadn't gotten a present for Rick. I couldn't spoil his surprise so you can
reimburse me for it , later. O.K?" Beth hardly had time to feel guilty when Rick
gathered her in his arms and carried her to the Limo as he said, "Well princess,
we have a carriage waiting."
That is an elaborate account of how events can appear to be one thing when
they are really the opposite. It is important not to jump to assumptions. As a
counselor I have seen misunderstandings between couples, in laws, parents, and
children cause misunderstandings that they would roar with laughter if they saw
them on T.V. but, instead create gigantic chasms of heartache. Perhaps this
fictionalized story will help you to rethink and give the people time to make their
explanations before coming to hurtful conclusions.
Beth could have said, "I want more romantic time with you." Rick would
have concurred. He might have said, "The most romantic things are surprises. You'll
see." After all Xmas is not less thrilling because we know it'll arrive yearly,
but more so because anticipation is better than realization.