Wendyl Nissen
Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Good work stories can stifle your wife's yawns


The line between fascinating and boring narrows over time.

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

If most wives were honest they would admit there has been at least one moment in their marriage when they've dearly wished their husband came home with better work stories.

There are only so many times you need to hear about Tim from accounts, or Shirley from reception and, oh, how they all laughed at the performance review seminar.

As much as we love our husbands the line between fascinating and captivating and complete bore can become quite narrow with time.

The very man whose words you hung on in your younger years somehow morphs into his father/uncle/old guy down the road and opens his mouth to mutter stuff you really don't care one iota about.

You gaze out the window and find yourself wondering just how high those sweet peas will grow and when did the dog get quite so fat, then look back in time to hear him move on to the next work story which involves a daily, repetitive dispute over his carpark. Of course, my husband has never been a complete bore, he's just occasionally a bit boring, usually when he's writing a book.

This has happened a few times a year for the past seven years and it involves "lending" my husband to the book for the time it takes him to write it.

It has become completely accepted in our home by me and our children that when in book mode Dad becomes a little distracted and it's best not to engage in too much conversation should it lead very quickly around to the latest book he is writing.

He becomes completely obsessed by the subject matter and can talk of nothing else.

I should be thankful he's not a method writer which would mean when he wrote a book with Michael Hill he needed to work in a jewellery shop in St Lukes, or when he wrote Willie Apiata's biography he needed to go to Afghanistan and rescue people.

Although he did shoot a gun with Willie one day.

But he does absorb the people or the things he's writing about and by necessity, as a supportive wife, I must also make that journey with him.

Michael Hill does transcendental meditation and steams his food.

So during that writing process I found myself being dragged off to learn how to meditate and was bought a steamer in which to cook food.

I didn't mind that much because I quite like Transcendental Meditation and still use it today and anyone can stomach steamed food for a while. So that book had a pleasing result.

As did Willie's book as I watched my husband go all macho, strong and silent for a good three months.

I'll be honest, I loved it. Not many women get to experience that.

But other books have been less enjoyable. Especially the ones about people who do bad things. Because despite them doing bad things, my husband's writing process is also to become very loyal to his subjects.

Which means the bad things become good things and he'll not hear a bad word said about the bad things. Well, not in his house, anyway!

At the moment he is turning his hand to a different topic, which involves not a person but an entire company history.

So I am being treated to daily, long-winded accounts of how the company came into being, the intricacies of its growth through the ages and the "fascinating" characters involved in that process.

"You must stop me if I'm boring you," he said rather generously the other day.

"You don't really mean that," I replied. "You could no more stop yourself talking about it than you could stop yourself breathing. I'm used to it after 14 books."

"Well, that's very understanding of you," he said as he put another piece of the jigsaw he was assembling on our dining table in place.

It's a jigsaw the company put out as a commemoration present. He bought it on Trade Me. As far as I can see the jigsaw is not going to be mentioned in the book or even be part of it. It's just his process.

I thought for one moment of pointing out how extreme this was and then I remembered that this is my last month of my year-long supportive wife challenge, so I sat down and helped him with the corners.

- NZ Herald

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