We Say "Thank You" For The Silliest Shit

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I did a half-assed job cleaning the kitchen the other day.
Gini was out at court, and I had ten minutes between tasks at work, so I picked up around the kitchen.  I didn’t do any dishes, Lord, no, or even put them in the dishwasher; I just picked up the stray glasses around the house, scraped some food into the garbage can, tossed some old junk mail. The dishes were in the sink, filled to the brim with Bachelor Water, that miracle substance that all men believe will clean dishes perfectly if you just let them soak for long enough.
When she rushed in to the house, off to another meeting in an hour, she put her coat on the chair and sat down to check her email.
“Hey!” I said.
She looked up in confusion.
“Did you notice the kitchen?”
She squinted at the kitchen. Indeed, the kitchen had gone from “abominable” to “barely acceptable.”  She had not registered the change because while the old kitchen had made her wince at the mess, this new kitchen wasn’t clean enough to make her stop in wonder.  She actually had to mentally compare the two to note the difference.
Then she gave me a big, wide smile.
“Thank you,” she said, pulling me into a warm embrace.
And that was that.
Later that evening, my wife was hip-deep in a pile of work, and was drinking wine.  “Would you freshen my glass?” she asked, tapping the crystal.  “I’m swamped.”
I got up and poured her a fresh tipple.  When I brought it back, she took the glass and held it up proudly.
“Did you notice?” she asked.
I hadn’t.  I’m so used to asking for things that self-care doesn’t register.  If I’m busy refactoring a program, you bet your ass that I’ll ask for as much catering as I can get.
But Gini came from a very dysfunctional family where she played “mom” even when she was eight years old.  She did everything, and was punished when she asked her parents for help.  So Gini never ever delegates tasks, and she tries to do too much because she *will not* ask for assistance, and then she melts down.
So Gini asking me to get her a glass of wine was, in fact, a major breakthrough for her.
“Thank you!” I said, leaning down to hug her, and that was that.
And some days I think the reason we’ve been successfully married for fifteen years is that we thank each other for the dumbest goddamned things.  I mean, I’m thanking her for being allowed to bring her wine, she’s thanking me for doing the minimal amount of effort.
I thank her for not stepping on my punchline when I’m telling a story.  She thanks me for not leaving toothpaste in the sink.  I thank her for not taking it personally when I scream at a broken computer.  She thanks me for watching reruns of Say Yes To The Dress with her, even though I don’t mind it all that much.
Our days are suffused with gratitude.
And yet it is a genuine gratitude.  She’s put together my weekly regimen of pills for years now, coordinating the various prescriptions and putting them all into a single M-T-W-T-F-S-S pillbox for me.  And every time I see her do it, I hug her and thank her, because we don’t let “routine” clog our thanks.  It’s still special that she does it, even if it’s the hundredth week in a row.
It’s also a silly, specific gratitude.  Sometimes Gini thanks me for things I don’t do, remembering the stuff her ex used to take her to task for and just hugging me because I don’t blame her for stupid shit.  But she’s thankful for that difference, and I let her.
We say thank you probably eighty times a day.  For big things.  Little things.  Trivial things.  Insane things.  And we never say them because we feel we ought to, we say them because we feel this swell of love at realizing the little efforts we’ve gone to, and smile a quirky smile, and fall a little more in love.
And I wonder if there’s some study that counts the number and quality of the thank-yous.  I’ve been in relationships where expecting thanks for putting the pills together would be stupid, that’s your job here, I do the fucking laundry so you handle the pills.  I’ve been in relationships where asking for thanks for the half-a-job in the kitchen would have led to a gigantic WHY DIDN’T YOU DO ALL OF IT argument, and then in the future I would never do anything unless I had time for the whole shebang, and we’d have much dirtier kitchens.
I suspect relationships get harder where the thanks are thin.  But fortunately, our air is thick with healthy oxygen and healthy thanks, forever grateful, even grateful that we’re grateful for such absurdly stupid things.
I’m grateful Gini lets me post things like this. Gini’s grateful I gush about her.
It works out.

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