momready archives

Always On Call

Posted by Elisa Taub
Always On Call

by Julie and Mark Stubington

As the old saying goes, "There are two sides to every story." In this monthly column, Julie and Mark Stubington, a married couple with three children, face off on common household issues.

Should Mark be "on-call" for Julie when he is at work?

This month's topic was my idea. The crux of the issue is this - is it alright for me to ask my wife not to call me at work numerous times a day to discuss topics that, dare I say, are not of the utmost importance?

How do I define numerous? On a slow day, my better half calls me at the office 3 or 4 times. I almost consider that to be within the realm of reason. However, on a day where she is in top form (and I mean Olympic caliber form), we are talking about 7 or more calls.

Now, I am not stating that I get annoyed every time my beloved calls me at work. For instance, I do appreciate it when she calls with updates about the kids. Also, it is reasonable for her to call me towards the end of the day to ask me when I am leaving the office or to discuss what we should have for dinner. These are meaningful calls.

No. I am addressing those calls that my wife makes with the obvious intent to vex me (honey, consider me vexed). The best way to explain my distress is to provide a smattering of examples from my personal "Wife Telephone Calls Hall of Fame." As you will see, in some instances the timing of the call is everything.

(1) She calls in the morning to ask me when I will be leaving the office in the afternoon. This one is priceless! Put bluntly, often times I really have no idea at 10:00 a.m. in the morning when I will be leaving at the end of the day. Sure, I could guess. But if I'm wrong, I know that I will get the obligatory "but you said you were going to be home by such-and-such time" quote from my wife. Also, I KNOW that if she asks this question in the morning, she is having a tough day with the kids and I WILL be on duty when I get home.

(2) She calls anytime in the day to tell me, in detail, what she bought the kids while shopping. As a man, do I really have to explain why this one annoys me? I thought not.

(3) She calls me on Monday to tell me that we should spend Saturday with the kids at the park. First, we always spend the weekend days with the kids. Thus, I assume we will be doing something with them. Second, and more elemental, couldn't this one wait for when I get home or for Friday afternoon (at the very least)?

(4) After she and I have discussed during the day that I am having a hectic day at work (the implied message being that I may have to work late), she has the kids call me and ask when I will be leaving the office. Pure and simple, this is plain dirty pool. I thought that the Geneva Convention outlawed this type of behavior. I must say, however, it is pure genius

Dearest wife, I hereby submit this list of grievances to you for your attention and consideration. Are these calls really necessary? Please respond in writing and not by telephone.

Let's get one thing clear right away. I may, on some days, call my husband numerous times to discuss various things. However, in my defense, there are numerous factors to consider.

First, as we all know, just because my husband considers my topics to be "unimportant," does not mean that they are without some merit. They are important to me and, by extension, should be to him. Thus, he should appreciate my calls. I call this the "suck it up and take my calls without complaining" rule.

Second, if I take his argument to its logical conclusion, does that mean that I can only call him about the subjects that he finds important? If so, and based upon telephone conversations that I have heard him have with his buddies, I could only call him to discuss who will win an NBA championship first - Kobe or Shaq (that question has been answered). Or, I could call him to discuss either his top five motion picture comedies of all time, or what our plan of action would be if zombies really did take over the planet.

Third, this topic of "annoying" calls is a two-way street. My darling husband is not the disinterested communicator that he paints himself to be. He does call me, on occasion numerous times a day, regarding topics that I find somewhat annoying. Here are examples from my personal "Husband Telephone Calls Hall of Fame:"

(1) On the day of any playoff game for just about any sport, he will call me 3 or 4 times to ask if I have set the television recorder to record the game. Believe me, I understood the message the first time. But please note that my "forgetting" to set the recorder is often my only way to ensure that you try to leave the office at a reasonable hour.

(2) He calls me at the end of the day to inquire whether I have bathed the baby for the night. The interesting thing about this one is that if I answer in the affirmative, he always responds that he is about to leave the office. If I answer in the negative, he usually tells me that he will leave in about an hour. Does anyone see an agenda here?

(3) He calls me numerous times a day to remind me that he is going to see a movie that night. Again, I understood the message the first time. You're going out. I'm staying home. Don't rub it in.

By the way, I do admit that the call from the kids asking him when he is leaving is dirty pool. But it sure does get his attention, doesn't it?

Julie and Mark Stubington have been married for 8 years and have 3 children. They are lawyers by profession, and live in Southern California.