One of the more difficult tasks I do far too often is marriage counseling. When I meet with a couple, I try to give them assignments to help them rekindle their relationship. Aside from words of affirmation, and gifts of service, like the man helping around the house, I offer them humor. Besides the daily words of encouragement of scripture and positive statements, I like to share stories that will help them drop their defensive walls and laugh. One of my wife’s favorite stories she loves to share on communicating properly is the following:
The waitress had never seen this stranger before. His dusty shirt and companion was strange in these parts. Actually, they’d be strange in any part. As the man approached the diner counter to place his order, the woman couldn’t help but size up the oddity. He had as a faithful companion an ostrich. Despite the fact the stranger had never been in the diner before, he acted as if he knew the menu quite well. He began, “I’d like to order a hamburger, fries and coke please!” Immediately, the bird cleared its throat and said, “Yes indeed, I’ll have what he’s having too!” Taken back by the fact that the ostrich could talk, she turned to the gentleman and said, “That’ll be $14.73 please. Without looking, he reached into his pocket, pulled out the exact change, and set the money on the counter. He and the bird then turned and walked to a table an waited for their order.
Each day, the lunch time ritual was repeated. Whatever he ordered, the bird ordered the same thing, and he always had the exact change in his pocket. Finally on Friday, the stranger opined, “I haven’t eaten very healthy this week so I’ve decided to have a steak, baked potato, salad and a tea.” Immediately, the bird nodded its head in agreement and excitedly said, “Yah, Yah, Yah, that’s exactly what I want. I’ll have that too!” The waitress scratching her head turned to the stranger and said, “Your order today will cost $26.43. Again as he had done everyday, he blindly reached into his pocket and pulled out the correct change and sat down at a table.
By now the waitress’ interest was piqued and she approached the man. As he looked up she exclaimed, “You come in here every day, you order and the bird gets the same thing you do. On top of that, you always have the exact change and you’ve never seen our menu. How can you do that?” To which the stranger began to recount a story, “Several years ago while walking along the beach, I tripped over something in the sand. As I dug down, I came across an old Aladdin’s lamp. Rubbing it, a genie popped out. Out of shear gratefulness for being set free, the genie offered me two wishes.” He continued, “I am a man of simple means and despite the temptation of wealth and fame, I just wanted to make my life a little easier. I asked the genie that whatever I wanted to purchase in life, I’d have the exact change in my pocket.”
The waitress was impressed with the strangers wisdom and said, “That’s brilliant! That means you’ll never run out of money.” He agreed. Continuing, the waitress then added, “I’m really interested now. What did you make as your second wish?” The stranger paused for a moment, turned and looked at his companion and said, “This ostrich!” Shocked, she blurted out, “You asked for a talking ostrich?” Pausing a moment he said, “Actually no, I should have been more specific. I simply asked for an impressive chick with long legs that agreed with everything I said.”
Moral of the story: In marriage, if you want something of your spouse, make sure when communicating, you are specific. Otherwise if you aren’t, you may end up ruffling a few feathers.