We made eye contact. It was fleeting, but in that quick instance, I tilted my head slightly and he nodded briefly. Then he turned his attention back to the person he was speaking to which was my cue. I wrapped up the conversation I was in before I made my way around the room to his side. With a smile, I interrupted his story and reminded him that we needed to go. And with a quick goodbye, we were out.
There is a “married code.” This was a boring evening where we would rather be at home eating Cheetos on the couch and listening to the children fight, than dressed up and chatting with other adults. Oftentimes we find ourselves stuck in a situation where you just need help escaping.
Times likes when you’re with a person who is happy to single-handedly carry on the conversation while you smile and nod, or maybe it’s the awkward situation where the person has had a little too much to drink and the stories are getting inappropriate — there are times when you just can’t speak your mind. Well, technically you can always speak your mind, but it’s easier and smarter sometimes to use the spouse code.
I really like my house. Not the house physically so much, but being home. So whenever I get wrangled into attending something that requires being outside of my house, I can only take so much. We developed our marriage code first by necessity. Being in the military, there is a party for every occasion — Yay, your buddy made rank so party at his place, bring the family for a little BBQ or holidays are here but you’re too broke to travel so you party at the highest ranking person’s house, bring the family for a little BBQ ... get the idea? Sailors enjoy a good party with games for the little ones, food for an entire fleet and lots of storytelling while sitting around with cold drinks. After about hour five, the little ones start getting cranky and frankly so do I and this is when I began deploying the code. Being discreet was not really my forte, so I would simply pack up all the kids’ stuff, pack the car back, thank our host/hostess, grab my husband’s hand then start walking. Over the years, we have developed the code into something much more discreet.
We began spelling out things around our kids after they learned the meaning of certain words. B-E-D-T-I-M-E was the first. The list grew so much so fast. The problem there is that I’m not a good speller by nature so I would rattle off a word and my better half would be across the room looking at me all crazy.
Once the children started picking up on the some of our conversations, we started using codewords to refer to people in our lives. For instance, when talking about our neighbor we wouldn’t refer to this person by name but by codename as we learned this the hard way when our then-5-year-old asked a neighbor why they kept “borrowing our crap and never returning it,” in those exact words. It’s really hard to maintain good relationships after something like that happens. Codenames aren’t just for negative reasons either; we had to refer to my mother by codename because anytime her name was mentioned, my kids thought she was coming to visit.... with presents!
Now we hold the code in reserve. Usually it comes out in the form of a tap on my arm whenever I start rambling about something in public that would not be considered appropriate: You know things like politics, religion or etc. But we do occasionally still pull out “the look.” You know your spouse well enough to recognize the look of “Help, get me out of here!” from across a crowded room. But we have taken it to a whole new level. We have whole conversations:“No way, did you not see the shrimp appetizers? I’m not leaving now!” , “I’ll take you for fro-yo on the way home”, “OK, I’m on the way.” And if this was your event that we recently used such code at, well, we really appreciate the invite, it was a lovely reception and the shrimp were fantastic.