I knew we were different when we got married. But I didn't know how different until the first day of work after the honeymoon.
Mr. B came through the door, put his computer bag down, slung his sport coat over the couch, and disposed of his truck keys on the kitchen table. The triangulating progression took place almost without me noticing, until I heard the clink of the keys on the kitchen table.
This sent my blood pressure soaring. Didn't he know? Keys pick up germs all about town--from the toxic fumes at the gas station to the deadly bacteria in public bathrooms. And the kitchen table is sacred space, set aside for food and drinks, and maybe if need be, a computer. But not filthy keys. If keys routinely sit on the kitchen table, the table will be dirty, which will contaminate the forks on the table, and the food on the forks that we put into our mouths. If this continued, the germs in our bodies could increase to such a number that we could get a disease and then...we. could. be. dead.
This first time, I took a deep breath, grabbed a napkin to protect my hands from the germs, and moved the keys into the living room where Mr. B would see them the next morning before going to work.
Expecting that the new place would subconsciously speak to Mr. B that keys are not welcome on the kitchen table, I said nothing.
But the next day when the same thing happened, and the day after that and the day after that, I started to think that perhaps my actions were not clearly communicating to Mr. B's subconscious as I'd anticipated.
Finally, I decided that my words should speak for themselves. I didn't think Mr. B could resist a kind and gracious request from his new bride. So that night, when he got home, I made my request: "Love, please don't put your keys on the kitchen table."
To my amazement though, the evening routine didn't change, no matter how I worded my request. And my requests became more frequent, passionate, and whiney.
One time I voiced it, Mr. B protested and proclaimed how convenient it was to just put the keys on the table. This is when I had my "Aha!" moment. I valued cleanliness, and he valued convenience. He didn't know that his convenient actions made my clean-freak mind whirl with discomfort.
As I walked in and out of the aisles at the grocery store the next day looking for key racks, some of the relational advice that we had learned from pre-marital books dawned on me: Don't nag your spouses or make "just because" requests. Tell them how their actions make you feel.
I was convicted. I had been nagging. I had expected that my charm would make Mr. B want to change. But alas, the light shone down and highlighted the obvious fact that as a wife, I am not a replacement for Mr. B's parents telling him how to curb his behavior. I am his friend, partner, and confidant.
Within hours, I had our new key rack hanging in the hall. Excitedly, I showed Mr. B what I had done and told him the downward germ-a-phobic spiral that spun out of control when he set his keys on the kitchen table. Although expressing my worries made us both laugh, I never see keys on the kitchen table anymore. . .he loves me after all.