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Mr. Inscrutable

January 27, 2018

SherlockHolmesYears ago, someone described my husband as ‘inscrutable’. I laughed – not only because I’d heard him called a lot worse, but because I could read him like a book (a Sherlock Holmes sort of book, mind you – the kind with lots of clues that you may not recognize as clues at first because they’re buried beneath a layer of mystery and misdirection, and you need to apply a significant amount of deductive reasoning and take more than a few leaps of faith to get to the bottom of things.)

A good deal of his inscrutableness comes, no doubt, from his Hungarian heritage (he is distantly and directly related to the last King of Hungary, who was also a Karolyi; he immigrated to Canada with his parents and sister in 1966, at the age of 10). Others’ inability to read him or his expressions may also come from the generous amount of facial hair he sports. His beard is as much a part of him as his six foot six inch height. (I mentioned to my granddaughter once [I don’t remember how the subject came up] that I had never seen his chin except in a photo of him at age 8 or 9; that he’d sported a beard for as long as I’d known him [and for twenty-plus years before that]. When she was here at Christmas, I noticed her casting surreptitious glances at him [he also noticed; it definitely made him uneasy – he’s not quite sure what to say or do around a clever and inquisitive three year old who thinks he’s a bit odd because he doesn’t engage with her like everyone else does]; later she came over and whispered in my ear, “I can see his little chin peeking through his beard.” I suspect I’ll never clearly see what lies beneath!)

WeddingPhotoWe met in 1998, shortly after he’d been hired to coordinate a prestigious post-graduate program at the College where I worked. He heard ‘through the grapevine’ that I was the departmental web design ‘guru’; he needed someone to run a weekend workshop in web technologies (and, ultimately, to teach web-based courses in the full time Program). To say our first telephone conversation immediately endeared me to him would be a lie; I thought he was brusque and demanding (I later learned he’d been hired only the day before the school term began and had been ‘thrown into the deep end’ without any time to plan or prepare [the previous coordinator had left rather spontaneously and the program was in disarray]; this was his first foray into teaching on a full time basis). Once I’d proven myself an able, experienced, and popular instructor – and one with the same kind of passion and approach to the teaching/learning process as him – things smoothed out and we learned to get along. Over the next five years we worked side by side, reinventing the Program (enhancing the course mix, improving delivery methodologies, reinforcing outcomes and expectations; as a result, enrollment doubled and employers competed with one another to hire our graduates). During that time our collegial relationship gradually grew into a genuine friendship, and then – after years of working together – something more. We were married in 2003 (the second marriage for both of us). And despite the fact that many people thought it would never last, we’re still living ‘happily ever after’ fifteen years later!

I admit that it took me years to figure out how he operates at times. That ‘inscrutableness’ of his often takes the form of annoyance over small things I’d just shrug off, delight over technical breakthroughs I simply don’t understand, and a clear preference for his own company (apart from me and one or two close friends, he really doesn’t like people all that much and is uncomfortable when forced into social situations with anyone other than immediate family). CoinsHe has an attention to detail and a need to figure things out that I admire; an ability to adapt and overcome any obstacle that I envy; a tenacity (obstinacy?) that occasionally drives me crazy. In many ways, we’re complete opposites (as with our teaching specialties, I’m ‘form’, he’s ‘function’); in other ways we’re far too much alike (we both like to be ‘in control’, which is fine so long as we’re each doing our own thing in separate areas of the house / property, but not so great when we need to make a decision about something we both have strong opinions about). Probably the best way to describe us as a couple is as two sides of the same coin (I’m Queen Elizabeth on the front; he’s the hard working beaver on the back of a nickel – or maybe the highly adaptable and always-on-the-move caribou on the back of a quarter).

During the early years of our relationship, I admit I tried to get him to change – to be less enigmatic and more easy-going (it didn’t work – any more than his attempts to instill an interest in complex scientific principles changed me into a geek freak!) He’s still unreadable at times, likes to ‘keeps himself to himself’ (my granddaughter calls our house ‘Grammy’s house’ and the garage/shop ‘Grampa’s house’), and is unwilling to accept anything less than the very best from himself, no matter the task (from making me tea in the morning to washing the dishes at night; from shoveling snow and chopping wood outside to rebuilding a car engine from the ground up in his shop).

Ultimately, I’ve come to accept him the way he is – to read his moods and expressions (or lack thereof) and allow him the space he needs to be quiet and think, or provide an ear when he wants a sounding board. And he’s adapted to me and my habits as well (e.g., he’s learned to stay out of my way when I do housework, and to not interrupt me when I’m typing madly at my computer). We share a number of hobbies, interests, and activities (even more since retiring to the country), but still enjoy ‘doing our own thing’ as well. It’s a good fit.

And while he’s probably still unfathomable to some, he’s mine, now until the end of time here on … the other side of 55.

  1. January 29, 2018 12:49 pm

    The key is you both have figured out how to make your relationship work and it sounds like it works really well. I’m sure you bring out the best in each other.

    • January 29, 2018 1:01 pm

      I like to think so. 😉 We certainly ‘get’ one another.

  2. Colleen permalink
    January 29, 2018 9:16 am

    So sweet Margo!

  3. January 27, 2018 3:41 pm

    My husband sounds a bit like your husband in that he likes his quiet time.

    • January 27, 2018 3:52 pm

      And when they do, it usually a good idea to give it to them. LOL!

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