Wendyl Nissen
Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Old, grumpy friends but such good sports


Calling my husband's oldest mates losers isn't the best way to finish dinner.

Take care trying to be funny during a toast.
Take care trying to be funny during a toast.

As my year as a supportive wife draws to a close, I find that my husband has set me some challenges in his haste to make the most of my undying support before it ends.

It's as if he's had a tsunami warning and is hastily making his way around the supportive-wife shelves grabbing all he can in order to stockpile supportive actions before they disappear.

The biggest challenge so far was to invite five of his old friends to stay at our house up north for Easter. They won't mind me calling them old because they are. Nor will they mind being called grumpy, because they are, and that's what they call themselves. The full complement of Grumpies usually numbers seven and they frequently go out to dinner together and sometimes they go away for weekends where apparently they indulge in rambles, listen to music, cook food, wear hats and grumble.

About once a year, the wives are invited too, and so we were for the special Easter weekend.

My supportive-wife task was obvious to me. I made sure there was clean linen, I made up five beds, complete with guest towels, and ordered in the wine, beer and food.

I knew, by instinct, that it would be wise if I ramped up the supportiveness by smiling sweetly, topping up people's glasses and making conversation only when there threatened to be an uncomfortable lull. I managed to do this for a full afternoon and half the evening and was rather enjoying the company. There was good conversation, good food, lots of laughs and a fun time was being had by all.

Until one of the wives decided to give a toast, thanking everyone for such a lovely dinner and the good times.

I love a good toast and am always quite happy to relieve anyone of the talking stick to give one. To be fair, I held back until everyone else had had a go but the wait only served to increase my enthusiasm for the words I was about to impart.

Which is why in a roundabout way the opposite of supportive wife came out and thinking herself very clever called them all losers. It was in context but they were still left with the definite feeling that they were of the losing variety of ageing men.

I thought it went down quite well but I did notice my husband leap to his feet and quickly start throwing ice-creams at everyone.

In the morning, I woke up early and cleaned up. It was the least I could do and it was rather like cleaning up after a kid's birthday party. There were icecream stickers and wrappers thrown on the floor and someone had given up halfway through their icecream and discarded it among the roast pumpkin left on the table.

Having returned to my supportive-wife status, I gently raised the topic of my toast with my husband.

"Did I call all your oldest and dearest friends losers last night?"

"Yes, you did," he said, showing no emotion. Women find this very annoying when trying to gauge whether they are in the dog box or not. We read every line of our husbands' faces, we penetrate their eyes and desperately take a measure of the energy force around them.

"But don't worry, they loved it," he said, letting me off the hook.

"Oh goodie, what good sports," I said, and started making breakfast for everyone.

For the rest of the weekend my supportive-wife role found me making hot-cross buns from scratch and pizza bread for the barbecue.

And I was relieved to find I wasn't the only wife letting her alter ego out for the weekend.

By the time the Grumpies packed up their old kit bags and headed home, the other wives had collectively called them unmarriageable, in the case of the single ones, and attention-seeking sissies and bad dancers, in the case of the married ones.

I'm hoping we can do it all again next year. My husband says we may have to wait and see.

- NZ Herald

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