Want to help your spouse? Get out of the way!

I try to be the most helpful husband possible. That is why I watch so much football.

There are only so many times that Terry needs to chase me out of the kitchen before I pick up on her subtle message — “Get out of my way. NOW!”

So I put my feet up and click on the game. To help. Like a good husband.

A co-worker told me the other day that she was expecting a holiday visit from her guy, who proclaimed his love by vowing to help her cook the feast. “Absolutely not,” she told him. “Go walk the dogs and stay out of the kitchen.”

He and I could have watched the game together.

It’s not that we can’t cook. Mom made sure that all three of her boys knew our way around domestic duties — probably because she lacked faith in our ability to attract women who would feed us.

Then I got married. “I can’t concentrate with you underfoot,” Terry said. “Go watch football or something.”

When she works late, I cook. I also wash dishes when she’s not home. I operate on the theory her dad often quoted: “No man has ever been shot by his wife while he was washing dishes.”

But if I try any of these when she’s around, I get pushed aside. Why? Because my goal is to get a thing done. Hers is some mysterious method known as “the right way.”

I’ve stopped trying to sort clothes for laundry. It’s been years since I’ve turned white shirts pink or left an ink pen in the washer with the bedsheets. But for the life of me, I cannot decipher her system for sorting clothes, so I bow out. I still think that black socks can be laundered with gray dress pants and blue T-shirts, especially if you wash everything in cold water. You can stuff more clothes in the washer my way, too, but hey, I’m going to go watch football. Call me when it’s time to fold washcloths.

I confess, I’m guilty of chasing her away, too. I once asked Terry to steady a board while I cut it with a circular saw. Just as the screaming saw began chewing through two-by-four, Terry snagged a rag and swished pine sawdust from the plank. I killed the cut power a half second before the blade would have made a snatch at the cloth and yanked her hand into its jaws.

“Don’t do that!” I barked.

“I was trying to help,” she pouted. “You don’t want to use that board when it’s all dusty and dirty, do you?”

“I don’t want to use that end at all. That’s why I’m cutting it off.”

I have learned to either give Terry extremely explicit directions, or better yet, chase her from the garage before I start. Otherwise, she’ll try to clean what doesn’t need it and question everything: “Why did you put the nail there? Seems to me that it would be structurally sounder to pound the nail 3 inches over. Don’t you care that this will fall apart with the slightest bit of stress?”

“Speaking of stress and falling apart…”

“All right, I’m leaving. I’ll let you know how the game is going,” she says. “But don’t blame me when your project falls apart.”

I did blame her. She distracted me. I couldn’t think.

But Mom taught me how to cook. How could I possibly be in Terry’s way? Maybe if she lets me into the kitchen long enough to add peanut butter or chocolate chips to her latest recipe, I’ll let her in the garage to mark measurements.

Or I could go watch football.

See the game with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday .com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at www.burtonwcole.com.


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