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The mind games of marriage

Last summer my brother and his lovely bride said their vows. But not before a young lady stepped forward and read the Ephesians passage admonishing wives to submit to their husbands; a verse hand picked by the bride, herself. The presiding pastor sincerely applauded my sister-in-law's choice of scripture and began his homily by promising to explain the meaning of "wives obey your husbands."

The men leaned forward, looking like eager beagles salivating over a rabbit hole, trying not to miss a miniscule of this ministering, while also conspiring to camouflage, to their better halves, their joyfully contorted faces. One sap said, a little too loudly, "Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof," accompanied by a slight fist pump.

Meanwhile, my sister's husband, sitting to my right, whispered, to no one in particular, maybe to God, "They haven't even said I do' and she's already playing mind games."

Before I share the biblical truths harvested that mild Saturday in June, I want to remind everyone that deer hunting season in Georgia ends this week. And, unfortunately, my city slicker husband, turned wannabe redneck, sat in the woods all fall cussing squirrels and accusing me of mind games.

When he took up deer sniping as a serious hobby, in support I designated our den as the Wild Game Room and begged him to bring home a trophy buck to hang on the wall reserved over the fireplace. His jaw dropped, his face slackened, and his lips moved in a "but, but, but" motion, as he glared at me in disgust.

To this day, I rave about the anticipated venison stew and chili and sausage and tenderloin, and maintain freezer space for when he brings home the bacon. Every night I scour cookbooks for wild game recipes.

I point out where I plan to hang the mounted pheasants in flight and the exact spot on the mantle where a snarling bobcat on a log will look lovely. And I share with him the catalogue layout of the supple leather sofa, chair and ottoman I selected to compliment our taxidermy lair.

He says, however, that he can't have wildlife stuffed for a woman who describes it as lovely. He says he's onto my reverse psychology. He says I'm taking all the fun out of [bird watching].

My soul mate says I'm playing mind games.

So for now, the wildest things in my den are a carved duck, a piece of driftwood, four children and a yellow parakeet.

Getting back to the wedding, just as the minister parted his lips to reveal the secrets of wifely compliance, he glanced beyond the bride's family to a stern countenance in the third pew, and recognized that he might be stepping in deep doe droppings with his own spouse. He lapsed, therefore, into a lecture on how a husband should cherish his wife; buy her jewelry, say he likes her haircut, praise her in fanny flattering jeans, never agree or disagree that the jeans make her look fat, compliment her cooking, and, if she wants it, haul home a prize stag for the wall.

Mind games.

For Christmas this year, solely for the purpose of instruction and inspiration, I gave my love a subscription to Field & Stream. From the December issue, devoted to bagging big bucks, I tore out pictures of antlered art and taped them in key areas.

Mind games, he says. I may as well give him permission to scratch in public and get a girlfriend, he says.

Maybe it's mind games, maybe not; but I triple dog dare him to call my bluff.



Web posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2006











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