Thursday, January 27, 2011


"Now, Kathy, I'm tired so if I give you the signal, it's time to go home.  Let's not make it a late night."

 "Got it."  We were going for dessert to some friends' house.

After 45 years of communicating practice, we oughta' get it.  Couples have these signals and for the most part they work pretty well.  However, miscommunication happens in the best of marriages.
Christmas family meals need no coded signals!

Take our daughter, Kimberly.  She and John have their restaurant signal down to a rhythm.  Other couples at the table remain ignorant but they know the foot tap to leg means time to go.  It's a pattern of 4 beats:

tap, tap, pause, kick

They were eating out with Rev. and Mrs. Jones.  He was the pastor who hired Kent as Minister of Music right out of college.  Kimberly knew their kids were getting restless so she. . .

tap, tap, pause, kick-ed John's shin under the table across from her.

John finished his story.  Everyone laughed.  Then he began another anecdote.  Kimberly tried again.

tap, tap, pause, KICK!

The waitress came by and he ordered a beverage refill. Why's he ignoring our signal? she wondered, smiling placidly.

tap, tap, long pause, FAT-DADDY KICK!

Now John's a great actor but even his wife was amazed at his ability to not even flinch or react to her high-heel skewering his shin!

Rev. Jones finally interrupted the conversation, "John, I think it's time for you and Kimberly to go home. . .she's kicked me three times!"

Miss communication.
John and Kimberly, home for Christmas with their kids:
(L to R) Blake, J.D., Elizabeth & Benjamin

When our son, Kent, first started dating Mary (now his wife) he brought her home to meet us one weekend.  He's a prankster but subtle in his humor.  Not everyone gets it.  And he never repeats performances or funny lines.  
Kent and Mary home for his Christmas Eve birthday

Doug and I were at a seafood restaurant facing the new couple.  "So, Mary, tell us about yourself," we invited.

"Well, I just finished my Master's in family counseling.  I hope to start a practice soon."

We were quite impressed with her poise and maturity.  Conversation flowed comfortably as we got to know each other.

Kent was quiet but smiled a lot, glancing sideways at Mary.  She was telling us about growing up in Wilmington and he beamed with amusement at her.  

How sweet, I thought, even though he knows all this, he's loving every minute.  I was right but not about his motives.

Mary smiled as she spoke of her life, "The ocean has always been so special to me.  I love the water and find the coast so therapeutic and, Kent, if you tickle my leg one more time, trying to embarrass me, I'm gonna pop you!"

She never even took her eyes off us but he immediately straightened up and looked duly rebuked at being outed.  She hadn't missed a conversational beat. His attempt to make her uncomfortable and embarrass her suddenly backfired. Oh yeah. . .she gets him!  She gets him good!  We too fell in love with her that day.

Marriage signals.  It's an art.  Takes years to perfect.  But the fun really begins with the imperfections in communication!

Third base coach,


  1. From Marilyn:

    Ah, the fun things one misses when one is not married! Ah, the trouble one stays out of when one is not married.

  2. Carol Caine to me
    show details 11:31 AM (13 minutes ago)

    Feeding the fish is therapeutic on your blog. Thanks. ( Victor and I have signals too. Funny, sometimes they don’t work though.) Loved your blog!!

    Love ya’ll

  3. Barbara Talbott Taylor wrote:

    Love your stories so much. You know me, I am just right out there. I simply say to Rusty, "Let's ride Clyde", and so we ride. Now if he lingers, I remind him I have my own set of vehicle keys. He NEVER wants to leave early: it is always me! He is so sweet, to put up with me. Oops, time to mount the camel. Have a good night.

  4. Somehow I missed this blog, but I'm making up for it.

    We used to have a communication when we were at church and Jim continued talking and visiting too long and the kids and I were tired of waiting to go home. I'd tell one of the kids to go over and hold his hand and squeeze it. That was our signal for "Would you please cut the chatter!" ha

    Our kids talk about that to this day. They'll say, "Someone needs to go over and squeeze Dad's hand," even though we're all in separate cars!

  5. Kimberly GraingerApril 2, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    J.D. was a squalling infant in a very loud pizza joint in that story, but we all remember it! Barry Jones recently laughed with us, reminiscing about the killer kicks I'd inadvertently given him.