By Tim Hayes

Nobody’s supposed to touch them.  Ever.

They’re the bathroom “show” towels.  You know, the ones hung there just for show.  The ones that get thrown in the washer twice a year, along with the curtains.

The show towels have no practical use, no primary working function.  The idea of drying one’s hands on them?  Absolutely out of the question.  They’re a feng shui accent.  A way to balance the bathroom décor.  Sorry, but nobody touches the show towels.

Okay, fine.  So how come they keep moving?

I swear, every time I go into our master bathroom, the show towels have been separated.  A half-inch space has been made between the two.  I know I didn’t do it.  I actually make a point of pushing the show towels back together when I see a separation.

The house can’t be haunted.  It’s not that old, and no one’s ever died inside it, so paranormal activity seems unlikely. We’ve never had an earthquake, so a natural shifting of the ground beneath us can’t be the culprit.  Maybe the show towels get swiped and slid a little as people go in and out of the shower?  That’s possible, but wouldn’t you notice that and try to avoid it after living here for 15 years?

That leaves only one other theory.  One half of the married couple in this house likes to leave a gap between the two show towels, and the other half (me) doesn’t.

I think my aversion to the gap may reach the whole way back to my early elementary school days, when yours truly sported a monstrous gap between two front teeth.  This incisor incident, this molar malady, this dental disaster eventually got fixed.  But I took a lot of ribbing for a lot of years over it.  Maybe when I see that gap between the show towels today, it lights a flare in my subconscious – CODE RED!  CLOSE THAT GAP, STAT! – and I feel compelled to push them back together.

It’s funny that, while this silly little battle of wills has been going on for a decade and a half, it’s never come up in conversation.  (That’s may change with this blog, I realize.)  But I think that’s part of what has made our 35-year marriage so strong, so healthy, so much fun.  We give each other the space to be who we are, to express what we think and feel and hope for, and the knowledge that we’ll always support the other person to ensure their happiness, safety, dignity, and love.

You read articles in magazines or see stories online about how poorly people can treat others, including their spouses.  It’s shocking, hard to fathom.  It makes me sad and concerned.  A listing I recently read detailed the top 10 pieces of advice from long-term happily married couples.  Most of the items sounded so obvious.

“Don’t tell jokes at your spouse’s expense (No “ball-and-chain” cracks!).  Hold your spouse in respect and guard it diligently.” Duh.  Yeah, of course.

“Don’t argue to win; argue to understand and solve a problem together.” Okay, this one might be a little tougher sometimes, but again, of course.

And here’s the topper: “Have fun together.” Seriously?  Is this news to anyone?  Who has to be told this, as a way to have a happy marriage?  Good grief.

True love means truly respecting, cherishing, building up, cheering up, giving plenty of attention while leaving enough space.  It means letting that person know their happiness is your ultimate purpose and top priority, always.

It means letting each other move the show towels around without making a big deal out of it, I guess.  It seems to have worked pretty well for us, anyway.

Copyright 2018 Timothy P. Hayes