(In June 2006 I became part of thee Guideposts Writer Workshop award winners and spent a week with authors and editors which changed my projector as a writer. I will always be grateful to this wonderful organization and to Rick Hamlin, my editor who encouraged me to keep writing.)
Silly Little Green Froggy
Linda was miffed.
“This ‘therapeutic separation’ isn’t working very well, “ she sputtered, cleaning up the mess in the guest bathroom¾capping the toothpaste and rinsing off the grimy bar of soap Glen left on the counter instead of the soap dish.
“This is so typical of our thoughtless marriage,” she said, forcefully tossing loose tissues and an empty shampoo bottle into an overflowing trash can. “Thirty-nine years of it.”
As part of their so-called “therapeutic separation,” Glen, had moved into an RV parked at a campsite down the road. He was permitted to come into the house, while Linda was at work, to take a shower and do his laundry.
“Why can’t he clean up after himself,” she grumbled.
It was good Glen wasn’t there. She would have given him a piece of her mind.
What happened to that man I fell in love with as a teenager back in Iowa? He used to make me laugh. Now, all he does is make me mad.
The spark had fizzled from their marriage like a slow leak in an old inner tube. After the kids had grown up and moved out, they were just two resentful people living under the same roof. Finally, Linda had had enough. She asked for a divorce.
Glen argued he didn’t want one. He convinced her, instead, to try going to a couples therapist, which they’d been doing, every week for 90 minutes. It was the therapist who recommended the “therapeutic separation,” but there was no evidence it was doing any good. Every session with the therapist seemed to be a rehash of what “he did,” “she did,” or either of them “didn’t do.” Their communication was cold, indifferent, or cranky.
Linda moved on her own bathroom to begin tidying up.
Pulling back the shower curtain, her state-of-mind instantly changed. A tight-lipped sentimental smile came over her face as she reached for her young granddaughter’s green bathtub toy, Froggy, left behind from her last visit.
Linda fondly picked it up, not quite knowing where to put it.
A mischievous thought surged into her mind. I’ll put this silly little green frog in Glen’s bathroom. Maybe it’ll scare him into princely behavior.
Carefully she propped the little frog, staring upwards, from atop the toilet brush.
With a self-satisfied smile, she went on with her work.
“The next afternoon I went into my bathroom,” says Linda. “And, there he sat on the edge of the toilet seat. Froggy. I burst out laughing.”
When she went into Glen’s bathroom she was astonished: “It positively sparkled.
Toothpaste, comb and deodorant put away, the tub spotless¾victory!”
Quickly she calculated that Glen would be coming the next day to do his laundry.
“I had the perfect spot for Froggy: on top of the agitator in the washer. A sort of ‘thank you’ gesture,” she said.
Then, two days later, Linda opened her medicine cabinet, and there he was, the silly little frog staring her in the face.
She giggled, plopping Froggy on the bar of soap in Glen’s shower.
“How are things going?” asked the therapist at their next session.
“Well,” said Glen, glancing at Linda, “actually we’ve been hiding this frog around…”
Linda and Glen couldn’t control themselves. They started laughing. And in between giggles, they explained the mysterious travels of the silly little green frog from one place to the next.
The therapist looked pleased. “Perhaps you’re ready to start dating,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Dating?” asked Linda, her face feeling flushed.
During the therapist session they made a plan to go to a flea market, agreeing not to discuss their relationship.
When Linda later telephoned her daughter Karen about the impending “date,” her offspring followed-up with another question: “What are you wearing, Mom?”
Linda hadn’t thought about that. “MOM, YOU NEED TO LOOK CUTE FOR DAD,” SHE ADDED.
She picked out a new outfit at Nordstrom’s “Last Chance” department. Considering that this was a “last chance” mission for her marriage, she fleetingly wondered, is that a godwink?
When Glen arrived at the front door for their date, he was smartly dressed, handsomely groomed, and holding a bouquet of flowers.
“I found that I was as awkward as a wife as Glen was as a husband,” she said later.
The flea market date graduated to dinner and chatting about the kids.
“Karen told me to bring flowers,” said Glen, grinning sheepishly. They laughed as they talked about their “conniving matchmaker.”
“Should we do this again?” asked Glen as he walked Linda to the front door.
Holding hands, Linda said, “Absolutely!”
A few weeks later, Linda and Glen were ready to recommit to their relationship bolstered by a technique they had learned in the therapy sessions: to pray together. And just to help keep them focused…and laughing…silly little green Froggy still shows up from place to place, time to time.
“When you lose the fun of life, you lose a strong component of who you are,” reflects Linda. “That little frog made a big turn around in my life. And we laughed ourselves silly.”
“I have never felt better about our relationship,” she confides. “Glen’s in the same place. Our intimate life is better…our social life is better…everything.”
She described her own “180 degree” attitudinal change with this illustration: “Glen used to say, ‘Would you like to go to Home Depot?’ I’d think, why in the dickens would I want to go to Home Depot? Now when he asks, I say, “Oh yeah! I’ll be there in three seconds!”
Linda and Glen were thrilled when their story appeared nationally in Guideposts Magazine, complete with an illustration of silly little green Froggy.