September 14, 2001
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 and Beth.

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.