A couple of weekends ago, my friend, Jennifer, and I took a leisurely walk to get away from the hubbub of our campsite, and after some minor chitchat, the two of us got down to brass tacks.
"How's your relationship going?" she asked.
"Good, yeah," I replied. "He's great. Also he regularly drives me up a wall."
"Sounds about right. Did I ever tell you about the magic wand?"
She then recapped a essay she'd recently read, written by a relationship therapist, who suggested when faced with a dilemma, we imagine we have a magic wand. We can use the wand to change some aspect of the relationship or make the person disappear into the ether with no hard feelings. When you figure out how you'd use the magic wand, you have a pretty good idea of whether you want out of the relationship or if you want to do the work being called for.
Since that chat, I've been using the wand with increasing frequency. I know it's not real, but it's amusing as all get out to imagine wielding that kind of power.
It started out innocently enough ...
Ding! Now you fill up the ice trays when they are empty and I don't have to explain why that's a thing!
Ding! Now you stop talking about trucks, because boring!
Ding! Now you don't judge me with your eyes when I'm inhaling cheese bread in my underwear!
Soon, the wand was being used for more serious matters.
Ding! Now we understand each other perfectly the first time with zero discussion of semantics!
Ding! Now when we have a difference of opinion, we don't!
Ding! Now we are both so good at managing our money and time, people ask us for tips!
Soon, the power went to my head.
Ding! Now you're painting the living room and installing hardwood floors while I am drinking wine with my girlfriends!
Ding! Now your poop smells like fresh linen and you're never in the bathroom when I need it.
Ding! Now you love BBC miniseries based on classic British literature featuring sprawling family sagas, filled with betrayal, love affairs and the occasional ghost!
I was becoming a monster — a power-hungry, wand-wielding, relationship dictator. The only way I could see amending the situation was to give him his own wand. I sat him down, shared the magic wand concept with him, revealed how I'd been using it on him and handed him his own.
He didn't want it. "I don't like the idea of a binary system determining whether or not you're going to continue putting up with someone. And I thought the magic wand was a vibrator."
But wasn't there anything you'd like to change about me?
"I don't think that's healthy."
But don't I annoy you sometimes?
"Only when you talk too much when you're drunk."
It's just an idea, a joke, can't you play this mental game with me?
Ding! I never brought this up!