Filling Your Niche

Becoming a no problem person

One of the things I love most about my husband is that he always says yes, and never yes but.

Yes, but just this once.
Yes, but I can only stay until 8.
Yes, but lemme check on some stuff first.

Dan’s eternal yes is also one of the things that irritated me the most when we first started dating. He would ask the girls what they wanted for dessert. One kid would ask for a little tiny Häagen-Dazs from the grocery store. Another wanted a Blizzard from DQ. Dan himself wanted coffee ice cream from the local candy shop. And I wanted a caramel apple empanada from Taco Bell.

I grew up in a house with 3 kids who never liked the same things, so this is nothing new to me. My dad handled this scenario with “If you kids can’t agree on something, no one’s getting any dessert.” Very practical. Even a dessert you don’t like is still a treat, right? As such, I suffered through many a horrible vanilla milkshake as a kid. Besides, what parent in their right mind wants to drive around town for an hour getting everyone their own separate dessert?

No one except Dan.

It’s isn’t that he’s an indulgent parent (although that is certainly true). He’s just a no problem person. A yes person. He says yes to everything. There is never a but. There is never an attached string. His generosity is utterly unconditional.

I have always hated asking anyone for anything. Until I met Dan I didn’t realize that this was not just because I’m obnoxiously independent (again, certainly true), but because I dreaded the strings. The conditions. The guilt trips. The inevitable extraneous nonsense that comes with even the simplest request.

“Hey, could you grab some milk on the way home?”
“Weren’t you just at the store yesterday? Never mind, it’s fine. I guess I’ll just be a little late for dinner.”

“Hey, can you drop me on your way past my house?”
“Well, I was planning on running some errands right now but I’m sure I could make time. Hop in!”

“Hey, could we reschedule our meeting next week?”
“Yeah, I can probably move some stuff around to make that happen.”

Not one of those answers sound like a real yes, even though they technically all are.

Asking Dan anything– still, even after 8 years together– is like when you expect closed-door resistance and, finding none, stumble across the threshold in surprise.

I never realized how much all those non-yes yesses wore on me. From every single person. Every single day. And it’s not like I just hang out with sucky people; we ALL do this. I do it myself. We want everyone to know exactly what they owe us. Exactly how much we should be worth to them. Or how much they’re worth to us, as measured by the amount of effort we’re willing to put forth.

Dan’s simple yes is a such a powerful and welcome presence in my life that I’ve decided to try and become a no problem person myself. I practice saying yes when people ask me things.

No excuses.
No temporizing.
No subtle punishments hidden between words.

Just yes. No problem.

Maarit • 10/22/2013

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