Sal and I have been together fifty-two years and it has been a very good fifty-two years. Well, for me, anyway. Sal is still mulling it over.

I was reflecting on our unusually long and enjoyable time together and wondering what our secret was. Fact: there is no secret. Sal is pretty special. Incredibly tolerant, patient and pleasant. I’m just a smidge better than mediocre in most things, rotten in a couple and just really good at kissing, doing the dishes and making her laugh.

As her girlfriend said a few years back when thanking us both for her 3-day-stay of our hospitality, “Sally, it was wonderful seeing you again. Love this place. Love the dogs! You are wonderful. And David, well…….David was….unh…adequate.” (I had not given her a single kiss the entire weekend so I think that explains my low ranking).

So, I must be relatively OK to get such a high rating from a woman who has gone through as many husbands as she has. Actually, compared to many men out there, I am probably a solid C, I might even just squeak in at C+. The bar is kinda low. I tend to excel when the competition is poor.

But we also had deals to help us in the beginning. We kinda knew that there would be misunderstandings and arguments so we put in place a few quick ‘formulas’ for dispute resolution from the get-go. Of course, I pointed out right away that being intimate every night, even if we were in disagreement over something, ensured that we’d start the next day without rancor. And the relationship would flourish. I told her it was relationship physiotherapy.

The Art of the Deal in real life terms!

Mind you, two other of our agreements were that we would not have children and that I would never, ever have to do the dishes. Ever. I was willing to eat straight out of the pot, throw dishes away after only one use, use paper plates or simply eat at restaurants for the rest of our lives but my doing-dishes-days were over. Sal agreed to both and – just for perspective – last night was my third night in a row for doing the dishes and, of course, in the middle of one of the soapy moments our daughter called.

Deals are made. Not all deals are kept.

Another fundamental gimmick to getting along was to fairly quickly declare how strongly we felt about something on a scale of 10. “I prefer the action thriller. I feel say, 7.25 out of ten.” “OK, that’s fine. I only feel 6, maybe 6.5. We’ll go watch your movie.”

We also never fussed, argued or even discussed much about money. Whatever she wanted was fine with me and vice versa. She basically controls everything and I sorta make a few directional decisions, the big moves, that sort of thing (when she lets me).

For example, when we bought our first house, we had no money. None. Not even enough for a down payment on a condo. But I had a few deals in the offing and anyway, we had to leave our current residence (a 13000 sft Shaughnessy mansion) because it had been sold and the new owners wanted immediate possession.

A realtor took us to a plain-jane split level in Richmond listed for $107,500 asking. We had a two and a half year old and Sal was 8+ months into our second child. For her to get out of the car and get our son managed while gathering up all the accompanying detritus of a young family took forever. So, as she began the struggle to extricate herself from the car, I did a quick run-through the house and made an executive decision. Sally got to the front door just as I was telling the realtor, “We’ll take it. Full price offer. But only $1.00 down. Don’t worry. I am closing a deal. I’ll have the money.” The realtor rolled her eyes. Sally rolled hers, too. “Should I even bother to go in?” I signed the interim offer.

I am not really the bastard I sound like. Sal was exhausted. The baby was coming within days and we had nowhere to live. This place was empty and immediately available. We had discussed what we needed and this had it all. It was a no-brainer (and it was a no-money-deposit-er). And Sal soon agreed with the decision 100%, even if it was after-the-fact.

And that ‘deal’ worked out as hoped. The point? We trusted each other from the very beginning. Still do. That really helps.

I mention all this as some basic background to our recent example of such deal-making. When we show up as being on a ‘different’ trajectory we sometimes make deals, weird, kinda-compromise, give-or-take deals. The other day, I snapped at Sal. I raised my voice, exclaimed my impatience, intolerance, frustration over whatever it was (probably she got distracted by a squirrel). She quietly rebuked me, “Don’t be mean!”

Later she dropped a hammer on her thumb and let out one of her famous coal-miner list of expletives that turn the air blue, shock grown adults and may someday even get her arrested. She is an angel who turns into Charles Bukowski for a second.

Later that day she said, “You shouldn’t get impatient with me. I am not a professional carpenter.” I said, “I know. But I think you were an angry coal miner in your past life and you now channel Lenny Bruce.”

“Let’s make a deal. I won’t swear and you do not lose your patience with me.”

“Fair deal. Every time you swear, that gives me licence for one ‘snap’. You tend to string your blue-words together so I will count your typical three-word cussing as one swearing offense. Deal?”

By the end of the day I had built up an 8-time ‘snap’ credit and we were just at dinnertime. I had counted each blue moment as the day went on and, upon hearing that she was at 8, she swore a full blue sentence and then immediately slapped her hand over her mouth. “I can’t !#@%**&-ing do this! Oh my God, *^&$#@!! (*&^&$!!!! “. I pointed out that that exclamation raised the total to ten. She was hysterical and went around with both hands clamped over her mouth for the next few minutes.

” I can’t do this. I’m doomed. The deal is off. No deal. Snap all you want. I don’t @#$#@!-ing care anymore. %$#@$#@&^%!!!.”

“OK. I get it. But that makes 12 snaps-in-the-bag for me or else we just go back to being who we are. Don’t answer that right away, Sal. You still have a lot of ‘F’s’ in your mouth.”

16 thoughts on “Deals

  1. Now THAT was just Darling.

    Life is Grand, is it no? David.*

    *the Norther one.πŸ˜‰πŸ™‚πŸ˜Ž


  2. quite an achievement, congrats to the both of you ! It proves what great people you both are.
    And humour is always a good ingredient for a long and happy marriage, giving in from time to time is another good ingredient!
    I thought you liked doing dishes?
    Unfortunately, a dishwasher is not an OTG appliance I think….so, you do the dishes together or is it just you?
    The older I get, the grumpier I get, so I do understand the snapping from time to time, but NEVER a lot of snapping, my wife would not tolerate it πŸ˜‰


    • I think so….to me ‘love’ is basically total acceptance. Plus humour. The parties fully accept each other for who they are and think the other is funny and attractive. 100%. Throw in dinner, a movie and ‘Voila’! I once asked Sal if she could feel that way about any of our current male friends (we were in our 30’s) and she said, “Oh, God, NO! I think I am gonna barf!” Then she asked me the same of any of our current female friends. “Yeah. All of ’em, I think. Maybe not Janice. She’s a bit mean. But, you know, if trapped together on a desert island….”
      So, clearly, I am more accepting….


  3. Well, I cannot lay claim to 52 years of wedded bliss. I have, however, learned that marriage is the only war where you get to sleep with the enemy.


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