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Major League Mishap

I'd tried to make our trip to the ballpark perfect. What was my wife's problem?

"A swing … and a miss!" the sportscaster cried. Though he was describing the action at the plate, his call fit the drama in the stands. I'd turned a beautiful day at the ballpark into a major league mishap.

I love basketball not baseball, but Lizzie, my wife of two years, is a diehard Giants fan. She's been watching Barry Bonds longer than we've known each other. So I thought it would be a great idea to take her to an actual Giants game at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Home run for me! She was thrilled.

Our seats were spectacular, and the sun was shining. Somewhere in the third inning, my wife remarked on the hot dogs a fellow fan was enjoying. It was random, much like the comments she makes when we pass a jewelry store window: "Nice bracelet!" I find it difficult to discern which of these observations fall into the category of a passing thought and which signal I should march into the store and buy the bangle.

Inspired by the flawless day, I decided I'd buy the

bangle … er, hot dog. Lizzie will be so delighted! I thought. Without a word, I slipped from my seat and hurried off to snag my surprise treat for my love.

It took a while to find the stand that served hot dogs. Since the line extended to the restrooms, I decided it was a good time for a potty break. Then I noticed someone with a Giants blanket. "Where did you get that?" I asked.

"They're free when you sign up for a Giants credit card," he answered.

My mind whirled with a new plan. First the little boys' room, then the free blanket, then a hot dog. Wouldn't Lizzie be thrilled when I returned with a Giants blanket and a dog? Perfect!

Several innings later, I'd made it through the restroom and found the credit card/blanket kiosk—located on the other side of the stadium. Eventually I trekked back to the hot dog line, proudly clutching my woven treasure.

At the window the vender asked, "What do you want on your dog?"

I was stumped; somehow in all our discussions that topic had never come up. To keep the line moving,

I said, "Everything!" and then watched him pile onions, sauerkraut, and peppers atop my lover's surprise. I paid $12.50 for one hot dog but consoled myself that the blanket was free.

Like a knight bearing the spoils from battle, I headed for my seat. But the usher was keeping everyone from entering. Something about Barry Bonds. Something happening on the field. That's right, there was a baseball game going on.

I sighed. What an inconvenience to my romantic adventure.

Finally, I was allowed back to my seat. As dramatically as possible, I presented my gifts of love. My wife, excitedly chatting with the fans surrounding her, looked quizzically at the blanket and then quickly hid it under her seat.

When she saw the dog, she said, "Oh, you were hungry?"

"This is for you," I said.

She wrinkled her nose at the pile of sauerkraut and onions. "No thanks." Then she jumped back into the discussion with her fellow fans.

My good mood plummeted. I'd gone to all that effort, and she was more interested in the strangers around her. Noticing my dismay and realizing the dog was a gesture of kindness, Lizzie took some noble bites. As she gagged down sauerkraut and peppers, she tried to talk to me. Something about Barry Bonds. Something about the baseball game. I didn't really care—in fact, I pouted for the rest of the game. The day was no longer perfect.

Normally after a misunderstanding, we plead our cases like two attorneys, each hoping to convince the other that our perspective is the right one. As Lizzie and

I got into the car, I figured our long ride home was either going to be very quiet or a time to give my opening statement to the imaginary jury.

I decided to try something different—something I now call "reverse clarification." Instead of endlessly trying to explain my side of the incident, I tried to give Lizzie's side of the story.

"First of all, it was a perfect day before I left my seat." Looking surprised, she nodded. "Then, without a word, I got up and left. You didn't know where I went or why. Inning after inning, plays were made. Something about Barry Bonds. You were ecstatic, and I was nowhere to be found. You love major league baseball, and the best thing I could have done was to enjoy it with you. Instead I left you sitting alone for most of the game."

Like a light bulb slowly flickering on, I began to see what had happened. "And then when I returned, I brought you a hot dog with all the wrong stuff on it." Her look was now amazed. I could see the attorney in her putting the folder away; I was already pleading her case.

"But what about the blanket?" I had to ask.

"They're tacky, and we don't need another credit card," she said quietly. Then something remarkable happened. She took my hand and smiled. "Thank you for taking me to a ballgame."

I felt like I hit the ball out of the park. I don't know who won the Giants game—something about Barry Bonds. But I do know that reverse clarification made me a wiener—I mean, a winner. I decided I'd take this new method for resolving an argument to the plate again and again.

But I'd skip the hot dog.

David and Lizzie Stroder: married 2 years; reside in: Salinas, California; favorite movie:Fever Pitch, of course!

Been married five years or less and have an issue, challenge, adjustment, or rant about marriage? Tell us about it! We'll pay $150 for each story that's featured in this column. Send it to: Starting Out at mp@marriagepartnership.com.

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Communication; Marriage; Understanding
Today's Christian Woman, Fall, 2007
Posted September 12, 2008

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