What “We” Really Means in Marriage

tim chan —  February 22, 2013 — 10 Comments

One night in the first year of our marriage, my wife and I were both lying in our bed, ready to sleep. I was all curled up in the fetal position, just about to drift into dreamland when Olive said, “I think the hall light is on. We should turn it off.”

Now one of the hard lessons I’ve learned about my marriage is that whenever my wife matches the word “we” with something that needs to be done, then “we” doesn’t actually mean “we,” it means “you.”

What "We" Really Means in MarriageYes, I know. It’s super confusing.

Like the time Olive said to me, “The closet door is broken. We should get it fixed.”

“Yes,” I replied, “We should get it fixed.”

Weeks went by. Neither of us fixed the closet door.

One day Olive opened the closet door and it fell. She yelled angrily at me, “Why haven’t you gotten this fixed yet?”

“What?” I replied, “I thought you were going to fix it.”

“No, I said that you should get it fixed!”

This scenario repeated itself several times. We should buy a bookshelf for the office. We should clean the bathroom. We should call the condo manager about our ant problem. It was like we were speaking different languages. If she wanted me to do it, why didn’t she just say so?

But I think I’ve finally figured it out.

In Olive’s mind she’s thinking, “I came up with the idea, so you should go do it. That’s why I said ‘we.’ We’re married and we’re a team. I’ve done my part, now you do yours!”

So back to the pesky hall light that was still on. In that moment, I had a choice. I could pretend that I was asleep already and that I didn’t hear my wife’s latest idea, or I could get out of my very comfortable and warm bed to turn the hall light off.

After some awkward silence, I sighed and finally decided to get out of my comfortable bed only to discover that Olive was right, the hall light was on.

And “we” turned it off.

Has this ever happened to you?

photo credit: linh.ngan

  • I think we do that as well! One thing we do about the lights at night, we just do a fun quick rock paper scissors to see who has to get up! ^_^ Kind of fair and just kind of fun =)

    • That is kind of fun! Is one of you a better rock-paper-scissors player?

  • “We” do this too and “It” drives me crazy

  • Ha-ha! I confess that I do something similar sometimes. I might say “Someone should fix that.” but at least I say it with a smile on my face because I know I’m not fooling anyone!

  • Man alive. Living this as. we. speak. :)

  • Dilly

    My only thought on this probably doesn’t do complex to the uniqueness and complexity of your relationship, but “she” probably does a ton of stuff around the house that you have come to expect and don’t even imagine helping with, so her “we” is a way of saying, “get it together and help with SOMETHING.”

  • salkav

    I understand where your wife is coming from, they are problems that involve both of you. Why should she have to ask to get the door fixed so many times if you already know it needs to be fixed. It’s about being responsible and respectful to each other rather than waiting to be asked. women use the word “we” because it involves both parties and us women know men don’t like being told what to do..however if we suggest something then that might make you think about actually doing it without sounding bossy or demanding. So it means WE need to communicate more with each other, otherwise if I say to my boyfriend “WE” should go to the pub tonite!” He will think well that means her and not US! ;-) love reading your blog Tim And Olive!

    • Thanks for leaving this comment – that’s good perspective. I agree with you that sometimes men (including myself) don’t like to be told what to do… and I think when Olive uses “we” she is being more gentle and indirect in asking me, and sometimes I take that better than her directly asking me. It’s funny that way. Thanks for your insights into this – there is still much for me to learn about marriage and my wife!

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