Good communications are vital to a happy marriage, but it’s also important for each partner to know when to keep her or his big mouth shut. Discriminating wives and husbands can sense which subjects call for lively, opininated conversations and which require a diplomatic “no comment” or outright lies.

“What did you think of that bathing beauty on the beach today?” the little woman will ask nonchalantly at dinner. (an ear-splitting alarm bell has been activated, but the poor sap doesn’t hear it.)

“Bathing beauty?” says the unsuspecting husband.

“The one all the men were ogling. Don’t say you didn’t notice her.”

“Gee, I really don’t recall. I was making a sand castle with the kids.”

“That young blonde in the blue bikini on the yellow blanket about ten feet to our left.”

“Oh, yeah. I remember her.”

“So, what did you think of her?”

“I guess you’d say she was kind of pretty.”

“You men are all alike! You should be ashamed of yourself!”

That husband requires no pity. He ignored the alarm bell and it’s his own fault he has to sleep on the couch tonight. “She was about half as pretty as you Sweetheart,” would have been the couch-eliminating answer.

In some cases the effect of a few careless words can be long lasting. It was around 1937 when my mother asked my father who was his favorite female movie star. He thought for a while and then replied, “I guess that would be Sylvia Sydney.” Fifty years later he was still denying that he would have married Sylvia Sydney if he had his life to live over again.

Movie stars are a prime source of trouble in this regard. They have been, after all, hand picked and groomed to attract admirers. Most people understand ths and are smart enough, and adult enough, to ignore a few sighs aimed at the silver screen by their mates. However, there are limits and superstars should realize that, for every fan they captivate, they are alienating at least one other. (Robert Redford, if you are reading this, you are not welcome in my home!)

Polite discretion is needed in other areas as well. There are some questions from mates that are too hot to handle unless you are a criminal lawyer, a politician or a used car salesman. “How old do you think I look? from a middle aged husband is one example. Any wife who attempts an accurate answer is either married to Dorian Gray or has a mean streak.

“Do I still look pretty?”…….”Is my hair thinning?……”Do you like your birthday present?”……..”Why don’these slacks fit anymore?”……”Is this better than your mother’s recipe?…..These are not questions. These are opportunities. Do your best to use them to make life a little more pleasant for someone you love.

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