Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shana Rishobia

After being married for an entire month I can now officially say I am over the hill. Gone are the days of staying up late with the guys partying. No more is the late Purim Video filming. (And by late I don’t mean until 11:30 when I say that I have to go before my wife will come to get me.) No more are the antisocial meals where I hold the fork in one hand and the blackberry in the other (well sorta).  Now I actually have to care about someone. Be concerned about someone’s feelings other then myself. Go out of my way to do things I never would have done before. (Dear, we’ve only been on the road for 5 minutes, do we really have to stop? I know there is an outlet mall, but still. I don’t mind the price difference. OK FINE!) I now even start preparing for Shabbos more than 10 minutes before Mincha! (Although I didn’t vacuum this week because I pushed it off for too long. Vacuum?? Did I say vacuum? Oy, how low have the mighty fallen! Vacuuming is for janitors.)

But don’t worry. I’m not complaining. I knew about this before. I’ve seen what happened to my friends that got married before me. How they go from glory to obscurity with one little ring. OK, that’s not true. It’s a sad and slow decay from the day he pops the question. It starts with the giddiness of being unable to stand still or think straight. Then comes the all night pacing back and forth on the phone. The “date” to go pick out jewelry, silver, an apartment and who knows what else. He never returns your calls or texts, let alone answers the phone. You’ll be lucky if he listens to your voicemail, so on the odd chance you bump into him taking a shower at 3 o’clock in the morning he can mutter a response to you before he collapses on the couch. Then the wedding comes and now it’s really over. His appearances are few and far in between, and all he can talk about is his wedding, his wife and his sad old pathetic hen-pecked life. NO ONE CARES! REALLY!!

So I knew it was going to happen to me. I wasn’t dumb enough to be one of those people who says, I’m not going to be like that. I was one of those people who said “when I get engaged, watch out, because I’m going to be a jerk.” I can’t tell you whether I was or wasn’t – that’s for my friends to decide. I’m sure they’ll all have different answers. No, that’s not what I learned from 1 month of marriage.

The thing that took me by surprise which I wasn’t prepared for is something I coined Shana Rishobia. Write that down- it’s gonna be a common phrase one day. (I know, I know. I was kidding.) In short, Shana Rishobia is the fear that you will say or do something that your spouse of less than a year will misinterpret due to the fact that they don’t know you so well and think you meant something bad, so you feel the need to go out of your way to explain yourself excessively and end up digging yourself in a hole when you were never in one to begin with. (Shew – yes that was in short.) It goes from the understandable to the extreme.

“Dear, the chicken you made tonight is delicious…. Not that the kugel was bad, that was good also…. No, really, the reason why I specified chicken is because that was the last thing I ate and I still had the taste in my mouth…. I should’ve mentioned that the kugel was good as well, but I was so enthralled by the aroma of the chicken I guess I got caught up in it… Not that I wasn’t enthralled by the aroma of the Kugel- I was, but I didn’t mention it. I’m sorry for being uncaring.” “I see. So you don’t like the Challah.”

[Interjection from wife person and pro-bono editor of said blogpost: in regard to the above example, I would like to spill a secret that many women would wish I keep to myself. Women only do this to their husbands out of their own insecurity that their first foray into true cooking has been unsuccessful. I, on the other hand, never had to resort to such underhanded tactics to get compliments on MY cooking. (Hey, and I’m modest too!)

Women are shana rishobia offenders too, just less obviously, and when they do fall into the trap, it’s usually because they comment on something negative that has a marginal reference to their husbands and they must defend their husbands’ honor. It’s about feeling good regarding themselves and who they chose to marry, not the dignity of the husband himself. So, husbands of the world, don’t feel too good about yourselves. She’s not trying to massage your ego; she’s trying to convince herself she didn’t marry a complete neb.]

To better illustrate my point, look at the following comic from Baby Blues.

The reason why this comic is funny, is because that is clearly not what husband meant, yet his wife decided to take it absolutely the wrong way. The Baby Blues experts out there, will confirm to you that said husband and wife are not in their Shana Rishona, and therefore he didn’t have Shana Rishobia to protect him from this awful mess. Had it been within the Shana Rishona the conversation would have went something like this. “I’m going to start working out.” “Good idea, sweetie….. Not that you need to. It’s just that it’s always good to stay healthy…. And I just think this idea of yours is a good one…. Not that your other ideas are bad…. They are also good…. Like the idea to get me these red with black polka dots boxers for our anniversary. Brilliant.”

It’s reasonable when you think about it, but how far will you let it take you?

“Hey honey, you need help bringing in the groceries?” “No it’s only a few bags.” “I could help you anyways.” “No, really, it’s OK, I could handle it.” “Well yeah I know you could handle it, I just thought I would offer…. Not because I didn’t think you can do it… I’m sure you can I was trying to be nice….. It’s not that you look weak or anything I just thought it would be polite if….. Why are you throwing tomatoes at me?”

OK, so that’s a little more far-fetched. But then you have your classic example.

“Oh wow, you look gorgeous tonight…” “Thank you.” (Awkward pause as she soaks in and revels in the fact that she was just complimented by her husband. He takes the silence as a scolding for not saying the words – “like always”.) “…..Uh, not that you didn’t look beautiful yesterday, you did. Really….. In fact even earlier today you looked great. I’m sorry, it was inconsiderate of me. Please don’t slap me?”

[I would never! Plus, he always compliments me, so it’s no shocker there. Yes, I know, I married a good one (don’t let it go to your head, dear), at least it seems to be after one month, so in a year we might have to have an update on this one.]

All in all, it’s not a big deal. And especially with me. I have made the whole thing into a big joke. Starting a few days after the sheva brachos were over I made it my business that every time I said something suspicious, I would go out of my way to enumerate all the possibilities of things that I didn’t mean to imply. My wife hates it, but hey, I can’t say anything wrong!

[Oh boy, oh  boy, does he have a lot to learn….]


Shimmy said...

I missed the blog...I'm glad it's back.
I like the post (even though I can't really vouch for its validity from my own experience, y'know)
I liked the wife's input. Her writing style is very different and refreshing.

Not that yours isn't...

Unknown said...

This is totally not just a Shana Rishona thing. I could give you plenty of examples from Shana Chamisha. I would love to write them all down, but I can’t. Not that I don't want to comment on your blog. Your blog is great… really - I didn't mean otherwise. It’s just I’m a bit busy… Not that I’m too busy for you, you are my brother after all and totally worth the time. It’s just that I can’t give you time I simply don’t have. OK, fine I can squeak out an extra couple minutes just for you.

Here goes: -
Oh, you are wearing your contacts today? Great, you look so handsome when you wear you contacts. Not that you don’t look handsome in glasses - you do, but this is a nice change.I mean in your glasses it’s more of a cuter look and in you contacts it’s more of a sophisticated look. I like both ways – really. But this is a good change from the usual. Not that I need a change - I like your regular way also. But a change is always nice to spice things up a bit. I wasn’t getting bored – really, that’s not what I meant.

Except that in Shana Chamisha the spouse really doesn’t care if you prefer the glasses or the contacts. The spouse will do what he wants to do because he wants to do it, and he is no longer insecure in his choices and decision and he doesn’t get insulted if the spouse doesn’t agree. So he will probably not even be in the room anymore by the time I am up to the second sentence.

Jughead's Hat said...

Why in the world do I want to get married? Is this what happens to you?

I think you might be interested in a sarcasm sign. It really helps.

I'm also going to try to help spread this magical phrase of yours.

Lon said...

This is why, every Shabbos, my father compliments my mother: "Everything is delicious... as usual."

Anonymous said...

Stupid mind games people play

ProfK said...

Take heart--reality does eventually click in, although it can be long after even Shanah Chamisha. Then the conversation can go: Yes, you look awful in those pants. They're too tight and poking a hole at the tip of the belt to get it to fit isn't going to fool anyone. I'm telling you this because I love you and your snarky friends won't tell you but just make fun behind your back. You can count on me to tell you the truth because I love you and care about you more than anyone else does. I want you looking good out there. So ditch the pants, and yeah, that shirt needs to go also. And where did you get that tie?! That same conversation also can go from male to female.

Erachet said...

...As a girl, I think I'd go crazy if my (theoretical, I'm not actually married yet) husband was constantly doing that. It would get really annoying. :)

But funny post!

Shades of Grey said...

Very interesting! This sort of thing would drive me insane as well. People should jus think more about what they want to say BEFORE saying it - including how it could be taken the wrong way - thereby avoiding these sorts of exchanges. Not that anyone is perfect enough to never slip up with how something was expressed, but better to create normal dialogue rather than artificially conflating it.

Sefardi Gal said...

Wives want to be loved for their inner and outter beauty, appreciated, and listened to. Men want to be respected and not nagged.
The end.

Very funny post!

BJG said...

I have two sisters who have been married for 3 and 6 years respectively, their husbands still say these kind of things all the time. It drives me crazy to listen to, I make fun of them for it all the time. Of course it's important to be careful about what you say but it gets taken way too far.

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