Until Lutefisk Do Us Part

My husband and I were in a long line on a cold, December day waiting to buy what? The latest iPhone? Tickets to see the Rolling Stones? No, we were waiting to buy lutefisk.

For those fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with it, lutefisk is a Scandinavian dish. It’s prepared by soaking dried cod in lye to tenderize it, then boiling it to a gelatinous consistency. There are food words that go together—roast and beef, scrambled and eggs. But gelatinous and fish aren’t two of them.

As you’ve probably guessed, I don’t care for lutefisk. I don’t think my husband does either, but he’s Scandinavian and he felt some primal need to serve it at the holiday gathering we had traveled all the way to Minneapolis to attend.

What could I do? Nearly 30 years ago, I told him in front of God and our witnesses that I would have and hold him for richer and poorer and better and worse. In the midst of a frenzied crowd of Norwegians ready to storm a Scandinavian grocery store, I realized lutefisk might just be “worse.”

I think I can be equally supportive if we’re ever “richer.” And I believe being supportive of each other is one of the main reasons our marriage has lasted. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a few more:

We accept our differences.

I was putting ingredients in the crockpot for lentil soup one morning when he walked by eating an ice cream bar for breakfast. No one marries the mirror. Country fans marry jazz fans. Broncos fans marry Vikings fans. Fortunately, my husband accepts that I cook healthful if not necessarily delicious meals, and I accept that he adds butter and salt to them.

We have our own interests.

Speaking of Vikings fans, I’m not one. In fact, I’m not a football fan at all. But my spouse is both. I’m also not one of those wives who learns to like a sport just so I can cuddle up with my man on Sunday afternoons. (POST Cuddling wouldn’t be that great as much as he jumps up to scream at the TV)There are plenty of other activities we share—dancing, camping and looking for his glasses and my car keys.

We get together after the game. He tells me how it went and I nod in all the right places. Then I tell him that I spent the afternoon finishing up a blog post. He asks what’s it about, and I change the subject. He doesn’t need to know everything.

We communicate--usually.

Over the years, we’ve come up with the following rules for maintaining good communication in the age of electronics. Give them a try in your own relationship:

1) Never buy an expensive smartphone and then neglect to answer it when your significant other calls.

2) Don’t stare at your phone when you’re out for dinner together, especially on your anniversary and Valentine’s Day.

3) Speak face to face now and then and be sure and use the tried and true phrases of the past. Examples include:

• Thank you, as in “Thank you for standing in line with me to buy lutefisk” and “Thank you for not making me eat it.”

• I love you, as in “I love you, even if you don’t watch football” and “I love you even though you do.”

• I’m sorry, as in “I’m sorry I got upset about your blog” and “I’m sorry that you saw it.”

(Dorothy Rosby is the author of the humor book, I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest.