You haven't missed #16. It is of a seasonal nature, so I've skipped it until it is appropriate.
This past Friday, my business required that I visit one of the local bastions of intelligence and righteous ideology. Needless to say, such a place is one which always welcomes the stimulation of conversation with your Love Doctor.(Unfortunately, I am having to limit these forays into the business establishments of my friends. As you can imagine, the Love Doctor's presence in a work place has a severe impact on productivity, as folks gather around to witness the wisdom and wit flowing from my tongue as smoothly and effortlessly as they flow from my fingertips.)
On this particular visit, a writer friend of mine volunteered to offer a topic for my column. (I wouldn't be suprised if several columns result from this visit.) Three C, as I will call my friend, is the same energetic and expressive woman who inspired the #2 column, "Does romance have to end with marriage?". Three C began her suggestion by expressing her frustration with a certain behavior of her husband.
"Yeah, he'll go watch a game or something with his buddies, and on his way out I'll tell him to bring home milk for the baby. Then he always comes home without the milk." At this point, from the look in Three C's eyes, I know that her husband always regrets coming home without the milk, diapers or whatever else he should've brought home for his child. His behavior is unintentional since, when asked, Three C admitted that the guy is always willing to and go right back out to get whatever he had forgotten.
Further conversation, reveals that Three C is not completely dissatisfied with her husband's fatherhood, "He keeps the baby just fine.." Three C is really upset because her hubby's mind doesn't work like she thinks it should. "He should've remembered", was what she declared in indignant frustration.
Before I begin my analysis of Three C's situation, let me first state that in today's America, we fellows can make things more peaceful at home if we make the effort to include some child rearing and housekeeping items in our mental checklist. (Remember, it's the thought that counts!) Either that, or we must, somehow, get our wives to understand how those of us who grew up playing with cars, trucks and tractors, footballs, toy soldiers, and cowboy and Indian stuff might have different thought process than those who grew up playing with dolls and doll houses. (But that's a topic for another column.)
Notice how I've highlighted two words (should've and frustration) in the previous paragraphs. If you have been reading the Love Doctor for a while, you may be astute enough to have realized, by now, that there is a frequently occurring relationship between them.
The English language has a strange twist. There are a few phrases which, according to Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary, are sometimes used to to "express futurity from a point of view in the past". In other words, they are used to describe something in the past as if it were before it happened. These phrases are "would have", "should have" and "could have". They imply the possibility of changing something in the past, a clear impossibility usually presented to you or me to make us accept blame or be uncomfortable with ourselves.
"I wish you would have...", "You could've helped me to..." or "You know that you should have..." are ways people try to make you or me feel bad about something we can no longer change. They are used to point out things that are impossible to do anything about. It's simple. What should have been, wasn't. It could have been, maybe. Perhaps it would have been, but it didn't so its not. It's just a way to waste time talking about nothing when we ought to spend our time discussing what can be or will be.
Look at what my friend, Three C, said about her husband. "He should've remembered." No wonder she's frustrated, that's not possible. How can someone "remembered",? The fact is that he didn't remember. Three C has to accept that fact. She has to make a decision. She either has to accept the forgetfulness, break off the relationship, or content herself with doing her best to influence hubby into behavior she feels is more appropriate.
The point is that we should always discuss what is or what will be. What is, simply is. Everything that has occurred in the past is responsible for what is and, until someone builds a time machine, we are stuck with accepting everything up until now. About the only other thing you can do about it is feel frustrated or guilty, losing valuable time and energy which would be better spent trying to affect what will be.
Look, if you find yourself in an argument with someone and "would've", "could've" and "should've" begin to pop up, stop arguing. You aren't going to solve a problem, you are involved in trying to place blame, make someone feel guilty or venting your frustration on someone else, none of which will change your situation. If you really want to improve something, start a conversation based on the future.
Ask your lover to respect your feelings, now and next time. Ask for help in the future. Offer specific suggestions for improvement. Choose a course of action. The only way to change the future is to do something now. You see now is the only time you can ever do anything. This is the minute that counts. The last one is gone. What is, is. What should have been, never was!