Finally, fourth period is over. I drop off my books in my locker and head to the cafeteria. First thing’s first: a soda and a glass with some ice. Like any true child of the South, I’m perfectly fine drinking my Dr. Pepper from a can. The ice, you see, isn’t for me.
Many years and all the corresponding jobs, experiences, and kids later, I kiss my wife on the forehead as I sit down, one hand sweetly caressing her cheek, and the other on the back of her neck pulling her to me. Then, as I sit down, Clara’s eyes go wide and she silently screams, “Philip!”
Here in this restaurant, she can’t exactly slip her shirt off and retrieve the ice I’ve just surreptitiously slipped down her neck. But even though I don’t get to see her shirtless, I do get to see her squirm. And in some admittedly sadistic way, I enjoy it. And I have since high school.
And I’m hardly alone.
Annoying those We Love
WikiHow has an instructive guide to playfully annoying your wife. Um, “Danielle Davis” (or, more likely, her husband) posted 20 examples on Today’s the Best Day. From across the pond, we have an over-achieving list of 50 annoying things to ask your wife to do from the Guardian, complete with acknowledgement that divorce may ensue. And on that note, let’s be clear: it’s not a good idea to deliberately annoy your wife, and some of these suggestions are far more than merely annoying.
Though, I must admit, I can relate to the Guardians’s #38:
Stop beating me at phone Scrabble.
Right? Clara is ridiculous. And it’s not fair.
But I digress. The way I figure it, there are two types of people reading this.
- Those who are still chuckling at some of the examples in the above-linked articles, and
It’s interesting to read a discussion on Quora about why this happens. The answers include both of the following statements:
Teasing is a way to be intimate.
This is primarily done by juveniles and some adult sociopaths.
At the risk of being a sociopath, I continue to prod Clara with her rare failures in a joking manner (“You don’t give me much material, so I have to recycle the old stories,” I tell her). In Psychology Today, there’s a line of logic about how such things can be productive, and even well-intentioned. Nowhere is a clear line, though, about whether I’m a sadist.
There’s undoubtedly a cultural component at work here. I razz my male friends and my kids. In some ways, it’s an expression of love. If I have never teased you, there’s a good chance that (1) I don’t like you, or (2) I don’t let down any of my guards around you. In my case, teasing is a sign of intimacy.
A Gender Divide?
Which, unfortunately for Clara, means she gets it more than anyone else. Ice down the shirt is like a more mature version of pushing down that pretty girl on the playground. Okay, so maybe not more mature, but at least it poses a reduced risk of injury.
Except when she’s driving, maybe. Yes, I’ve done that, too.
To varying degrees, all of my male friends enjoy teasing, pestering, and annoying their wives. It’s our way of flirting, I guess. And while there are occasionally some wives who can and do give as well as they get, they’re the exception.
Why is it that so many of us enjoy annoying our wives? And how far is too far? I’d really like some feedback from our readers on this one.
As a husband, how do you pester and tease your wife? And do you struggle with knowing when to stop?
And as a wife, is it harmless tedium you must endure, or is it a source of genuine stress? Or, is it just a good excuse to get him back with that elaborate prank you’ve been considering for the past eight years…?