Mendelssohn is known for his “Song Without Words.” I feel sure he wrote that for his wife because couples have a certain language between them that requires no speech. That’s a good thing because for the past few years, I’ve been steadily losing my ability to remember some words, especially difficult ones like table, dishwasher, and phone. I would worry more if I didn’t witness so many others in my age bracket who are afflicted with this particular brand of aphasia. I eventually do remember the word, but it takes a concerted effort sometime, an effort that would wear me out if I constantly had to make it. As I said at the beginning, however, couples who have been married a long time don’t need to use so many words. Lucky me.
The other night my husband was setting the table, and I said to him, “Honey, use the napkins that are in the thing.” He went right to the dry sink and pulled out two napkins. I would have found the words “dry sink” floating around in my brain somewhere, but I didn’t have to bother. When my husband asks where I put the mail, and I say, “I…uh, I…uh, put it…you know, when you come in and…um,” and he walks over to the entry table and picks up the mail.
I never was good at charades in my youth, but I’ve managed to develop a good communication system by using hand signals. My husband can tell me where my glasses are after I’ve made the gesture of two circles in front of my eyes. He knows when to turn the heat up just by looking at me rubbing my arms briskly and sighing loudly. Oh, wait, that’s more like whining, so that doesn’t count. Sometimes I have to get more elaborate, nearly putting on an entire skit to get him to understand me, but he’s a truly dependable mind-reader. His skills have been honed over many years, though, so I wouldn’t recommend newlyweds trying this at home.
There are also times when the shoe is on the other foot, and I’ve had to fill in the blanks my husband exhibits. He says I’m good at finishing his sentences. We just heard a staggering statistic last night that 35 percent of all baby boomer couples have split and that generation makes up the majority of all divorced people in America. My husband and I started thinking about all our friends and reflecting on their marriages. All of them are still together. I contend that those baby boomers whose marriages are still intact are excellent at the art of communicating without words. Either that, or some of them have forgotten the word “divorce.”