“I don’t know why you think we need to be here,” Norman Heigler groused, his arms crossed defiantly over his chest. Well, he was hoping the gesture conveyed defiance. In actuality, his arms just rested atop his ample belly, so the look didn’t have quite the impact he liked to think it did.
“I told you why,” cajoled Bess, his wife, “Mary Schlotz told me that Dr. Higgens did wonders for her and Hank’s marriage. And her cousin and husband --you know Nancy What’s-her-name from down in Clarksville --we met her at Mary’s grandson’s wedding last year --they were on the verge of divorce and Dr. Higgins saved their marriage!”
“Hmph,” Norman snorted and waited in silence.
“So, why are we here today?” Dr. Higgens, the young, perky therapist asked, once introductions had been made. When Norman had seen that Dr. Higgens was no older than his oldest grandchild, he had rolled his eyeballs and snorted once more. Bess elbowed him.
“We’re here for marriage counseling” Bess announced primly.
“I see,” said Dr. Higgens, “So tell me about your marriage and what seems to be the problem.”
“We don’t have a problem,” answered Norman, just as Bess declared, “We don’t communicate at all anymore.”
“Hmm,” said Dr. Higgens.
“What do you mean, ‘we don’t communicate’?” demanded Norman.
“It’s true!” cried Bess, “Communication is the cornerstone of any solid relationship and we have none. We have a complete breakdown of communication in our marriage.”
Norm eyed his wife of forty-four years. “Have you been watching Dr. Phil again?” He finally asked.
“See!” exclaimed Bess to the doctor, “He always does this! When I try to tell Norm something important, he always brushes off what I have to say as if I’m some --weak-minded female or something!”
“Hmm,” said Dr. Higgens, beginning to write notes on her pad.
“We communicate all the time,” Norm insisted, “Every single day we talk!”
“Can you give me some examples of this?” Dr. Higgens asked.
“Why sure,” said Norm, “Every morning I ask Bess if the coffee’s hot and where’s my paper. Then, every evening I ask what’s for supper. And then every night I tell her she ought to let that dog out so he doesn’t mess up the rug and then I tell her good-night.”
“Uh, huh” Dr. Higgens was scribbling furiously on her pad.
“That is not communicating!” Bess screeched, “This is exactly what I’m talking about!”
Norman looked at his wife, puzzled. “What’re you’re getting so upset about?”
“Norm -- I want more. I want to talk with you. I want you to share yourself with me. Tell me what you’re thinking, your hopes, your dreams,” Bess raised her hands in the air in a gesture of frustration.
“My dreams?” Norman paused for a moment, a look of confusion written across his features. “Bessie, I don’t need to tell you my dreams because I’m living them. I lived them with you. I’ll never forget the first time I saw you, checking groceries in your dad’s store. I knew right then and there that if I didn’t make you mine, none of my dreams mattered.”
A look of wonderment crossed old Bess Heigler’s face as Norman continued, “The day we got married was the happiest day of my life and I’ve never once regretted it. I think of the life we’ve shared and I’d go through every hard thing all over again if it meant I could still have you by my side. I always liked how you always kind of knew what I was thinking and how you weren’t one of those women who had to have her jaw flapping every time she got a new thought. We just fit, you know? And I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a day of it.”
Bess fumbled in her purse for her a tissue as Dr. Higgens flipped through her notes, announcing, “Well, I’ve outlined some strategies here that I think will help aid you both in effective communication--”
Bess interrupted as she stood, “I’m sorry for wasting your time, Doctor.” She gazed at Norman lovingly, “I don’t think we’ll be needing your help, after all.” Helping her husband raise his ample girth out of the chair, Bess continued, “It seems like we actually communicate pretty well.”
And without looking back, Bess and Norman left to continue communicating in the way that had worked for forty-four years - - a way that didn’t always require words, but spoke volumes about love.
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