Janet Hommel Mangas: A successful marriage is like farming

“I’m sorry you were mean to me.”

I offered up my martyr-like apology first with my head held high as the husband returned from visiting and caring for his 93-year-old mother.

Making eye contact as he walked up the stairs, he half-smiled tentatively, and asked seriously, “How was I mean to you?”

“You just seemed gruff this morning — you’re rarely in a bad mood, so it threw me off. Are you mad for some reason?”

When the husband left that morning after adjusting and using the laser thermometer on me because I’d not been feeling “up to snuff” lately, I did what any other normal spouse would do. Even though we kissed goodbye, I felt he was annoyed for some reason and I decided to retaliate. Instead of jumping on my work projects that I’d delayed for the last three days of being “under the weather,” I decided I’d show him.

I laundered all his clothes and actually ironed his work pants — which never happens because we were married when we were both nearly 30, and he has always been quite capable and willing to take care of his chores.

Then I vacuumed the entire upstairs, moving all the furniture and using all the dumb little brush and sucking attachments to catch every single microscopic piece of invisible dust particle.

And if that wasn’t enough, I decided to really show him by double-backing and wet-mopping the entire hardwood floors.

As he walked up the stairs before I had a chance to speak first, he jovially announced, “Hey, I can finish the stairs and do downstairs.”

Which is when I hit him with the “I’m sorry you were mean to me.”

He explained that he also hadn’t sleep well that night, but that he wasn’t upset about anything. Then he countered me with his, “I’m sorry you were mean to me — the house looks nice.”

Later that day I thought about how our marital conflicts have evolved and gotten easier over the past 30-something years. The “I’m sorry you were mean to me” words come quicker, followed by melting hugs.

And yet it brings American author H. Jackson Brown Jr.’s adage to mind: “Remember that creating a successful marriage is like farming: You have to start over every morning.”

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.