Frank and I were lying in bed, writing a grocery list and figuring out what needed to be accomplished an afternoon last weekend when he squinted at my (mostly) dark brown hair. The following conversation was documented on my Facebook page:
Frank: man. You’re going gray.
Me: I know.
Frank: I mean really. Wow. Like remember when I used to count them? Only God can count them now.
Ladies and gentlemen: he’s a keeper.
For the record, our whole conversation made me laugh. I am aging. Every passing day and passing year is testament to that fact. Frank, not immune to the effects of time, is also aware of the effects of time’s passage on his own person. Our faces are looser, our bodies are definitely outside of our prime. We are tired from running after two jobs, two kids (soon to be three! whoa!) and life.
But the laugh lines and smile lines are also taking hold, happily, etching their places at the corners of our eyes and creating parenthesis around our grins.
Life is good. Even when it hasn’t been, we’ve laughed together and been each other’s best friends.
People who know us, know what I write here is true.
I posted our funny exchange dryly on my Facebook page, smirking while I hit “post.” Before the first responses came back, I was chuckling to myself about my funny husband.
And then… Then I learned three things about people in a small microcosm of social media. To be certain, I am not naive – I have witnessed some of these behaviors in other spaces and places, but it hit a nerve watching the responses unfold in response to an every-day humorous exchange between Frank and me.
Thing one: Domestic Violence Is Not OK.
A friend flippantly commented that I should “slap” Frank for his remark.
For some reason, this seems to be a thing among women: it is OK to make threats about striking men – or even actually hitting a man.
That is ugly to me. I cringe on the inside.
How can we, as women, say it is NOT OK to hit women, but at the same time say that it IS OK to hit men? While we complain about double standards I think it might be time to examine the double standards that women also use.
I also played through the response as though it was a man telling another man to slap his wife. Certainly there would be absolute outrage about a comment like that. But the thought of me hitting my husband was met with silence.
Of course, you could go down a rabbit hole with this one, but that is for smarter people than me. Suffice to say, I do not advocate for any violence against humans. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and all that.
Thing two: Small Rudder, Big Ship.
I am reminded of the childhood playground mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”
That horse crap mantra never worked. We are humans and at the essence of who we are is that we relate to other people. Words are part of that relationship and words can hurt, deeply.
In the Book of James in the Bible, there is a passage that refers to the tongue as a small rudder that steers a large ship.
That is truth.
When one of the responses called my sweet, funny husband an “ass” and demanded that he get a raise so I can pamper myself monthly, it hurt me and it irritated him.
Something to know about our marriage: we refuse to call each other names. I give Frank the most credit for maintaining this level of decorum in our arguments. If you know Frank, you know that he is a professional, first and foremost. He is professional in all facets of his life, even in our marriage. This doesn’t mean he isn’t wrong at times or that he doesn’t make mistakes or that he hasn’t said things he’s later regretted. But he does not scream to dominate an argument, he does not resort to name calling to distract from the true issue at hand and he keeps his language generally clean.
So to see those words written out and directed at my husband – my much better half, to be honest – left a bitter taste in my mouth.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard or witnessed such behavior from people, sadly. I’ve seen it live and in person. No matter the context, it is always off-putting and upsetting.
Those small words steer a large ship indeed.
Thing three: Humor.
Of course, throughout the responses were appropriate responses from people who know us best. One of my friends jokingly commiserated. A few cajoled Frank about his lack of gray hair due to his absolute lack of hair. One said that our humor was the sign that we were the best of friends.
One of the first times that Frank and I went out together, I remember thinking, “I have never laughed with anyone else like this – ever!” Our chemistry has always been punctuated by jokes and games and funny things we do to make the other smile. It is our way. (I documented a few of our quirky “I love you’s” a while ago)
In fairness, I did not include a smiley face or emoticon or other emotional clues to indicate that our conversation was funny. I simply assumed that others would firstly, know us well enough to know that it was meant as a humorous exchange, and secondly, that even if others did not know us well enough, that they would assume that I would not post a conversation like that out of anger, hurt or some other negative emotion.
Perhaps the conversation may have been sort of a Rorschach test, revealing more about the people responding than it did about the people having the conversation. I don’t know.
I deleted the conversation in its entirety from my Facebook page because it brought out some negativity that I personally didn’t enjoy and, well, it’s my Facebook page and I’ll do what I want to.