Is it a yes or a no?………it’s not as easy as you think.

One of my wife’s most endearing qualities is her tendency to agree to a suggestion right out of the box. She is a very sensitive person who wants to please people above all else. So when I suggest something that she would really prefer to not do, she will often answer yes when she really means no. This happens a lot more often than you might imagine. Most of the things I suggest are either childish, boring, have to do with sports or involve more work for her than for me. But bless her heart, she almost always agrees….. at first.

Sure, honey, sounds like fun. (Thinking: “I can’t believe I married Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber.”)

It’s taken me many years and a few tears to learn the signs of a yes/no. She had perfected this art of yes/no with her family and boyfriends long before I ever met her. I had a pretty tough learning curve to navigate. The voice inflection and tone is key. I never realized how many different ways there were to say the word “yes”, none of which actually mean yes. There are telltale signs however.

Care to venture a guess?

Scenario: I suggest we travel 60 miles through busy traffic and miserably hot weather to attend a playoff game where the parking will be horrendous. I know what you’re thinking, who wouldn’t jump at an offer like that, right?

“I think the traffic’s beginning to move, honey. Only 58 more miles.”

Telltale sign #1. There’s the “yeah, sure”, yes. The inflection means “OK, but if something better comes along, like a nap, count me out.” This is generally spoken with great assurance since a nap is always just around the corner. I’ll probably be buying only one ticket.

“I don’t know why she won’t come to the game with me, I’ve really mellowed out since I was a boy.”

Or there’s telltale sign #2, the “disappointed” yes, said with little enthusiasm. Translation: “I can’t believe you didn’t know that The Nutcracker is in town that day”. I have become quite good at reading these intonations. The good news is, I tend to ignore them. After all, it is a playoff game! The bad news is, that performance of the Nutcracker was one of the best I had ever seen.

“I wonder what the score is….”

Telltale sign #3 is the easiest to interpret and this yes invariably means no. It takes a while to get out, is almost imperceptible, and is totally noncommittal. It is generally accompanied by a sheepish expression. Basically this yes means “there is no way I’m going with you to do something that stupid, but to spare your feelings I’m agreeing until I can come up with a reason not to go.” A typical reason would be she has to pluck her eyebrows out, one painful hair at a time.

“This is the 5th time this month for this. Will the season ever get over?”

Then there is the quizzical  “we can do that”, yes. This is a kind of “let’s compromise” yes. I have always been a mountain person while she has always had a love for the beach. Last week I suggested we do a mountain weekend, she said, “sounds good, but let’s work out a compromise.” So we did. We went to the beach.

The mountains! No, the beach! (This isn’t us, this is our neighbors. They don’t know how to compromise)

But the most ominous of the telltale signs is the “OK, but”. This is about as scary as a yes gets. This pretty much means that she’s saying yes, but there are ground rules, and plenty of them. If I want my friends and their wives over for dinner I will clean the house, help prepare and serve the meal and clean up afterward. Any violation or lapse in observing these rules results in immediate probation and no “suggestions” for six months. Needless to say, I take OK but’s very seriously and use them sparingly.

“What a great idea, sweetie, having your friends over.”

Anyway, after all these years of marriage, she is still the sweetest woman on earth who cannot find it in her heart to say no. So it falls to me to decipher which category her yes falls into. But I am still thankful for one yes in particular. It’s that unconditional “Yes” that she uttered nearly 44 years ago!

On our way to our honeymoon at Yankee Stadium.

30 thoughts on “Is it a yes or a no?………it’s not as easy as you think.

  1. Peter always says yes, but 98% of the time it just means he hasn’t heard a word of what I’ve said… It’s when I get to the ‘will you drive or will I?’ Question I get the ‘wait now what???’

    The other 2% is half a Patty yes, and the other half an ok then, why not 🙂

    I get the Patty yeses for ‘could you empty the bin’ or ‘could you help me put all these boxes in the attic’. If he says yes then I might go away & let him snooze 🙂

  2. There’s verbal communication and non-verbal. You, sir, just taught us a great deal about non-verbals. And you did with so with great humor. I’m loving the pictures and captions!

  3. Your wife choose wisely and is a very lucky woman that you interpret exactly what she means. 🙂

    I can’t believe you actually went to the Nutcracker, my husband would be afraid to go there, or if I could coerce him (probably because he was in a coma) he would wear a cup.

    Beautiful, beautiful post and congratulations on a 44 year marriage.

    • Actually, I’ve been to a number of Nutcracker performances. However, I will admit it’s the only ballet I go to, just like “Babes in Toyland” is the only opera I go to. It must be all the soldiering that attracts me because otherwise I’m culturally challenged.

      Thanks for the comment.

  4. I agree this is a lovely post. Among other things your wife is lucky enough to have a man who bothers to interprest the “Yes” into what she’s actually saying, and listen to the underlying statement. That probably has something to do with why you’ve been together for 44 years. May you have many more together

  5. I don’t know how you find the time to write all these wonderful things like this blog and post photos and all….anyway this was was a LOT of fun to read. Where do you find the cute pictures…of the little boy for example. You didn’t really go to Yankee Stadium did you?

    • It’s this way, Cindy, if I spend all my time writing these, no one can expect me to actually work. Clever, huh?

      The graphics come from either Google images, a large clipart program I have or actual pictures from my files.

      The part about Yankee stadium was literary license. But I would not be above suggesting it. That would definitely have been her first yes/no!

  6. You wonderful romantic man. It must be absolutely great to know your wife so well. and that last sentence really pulled at my heart strings.

Your turn to write, but please don't be wittier than me. My ego is quite fragile.

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