A few days ago, I read a story in the New York Times about the psychology of happiness. The article explained that many colleges now offer classes that explore what makes people happy. Some scientists believe people can increase their happiness by figuring out what their strengths are, and then pursuing activities or jobs that use those strengths. The paper provided a link to a psychology Web site that has a test to identify your strengths.
I told Greg about this, and he quickly started to work on the test. The test had 240 questions, so he needed quite a while to finish. By the time he completed it, I had gotten into bed and started reading a book. He came upstairs and boasted about how his top strength was judgment and critical thinking.
“What was your biggest weakness?” I asked.
“What do you think it was?” he teased.
Shoot. How was I going to get myself out of this one? I don’t know a lot about marriage, and I don’t have much advice to offer. Except this: When your spouse asks you what his biggest weakness is, DO NOT ANSWER. This is the sort of question that never leads to happily ever after.
I fumbled for an answer. “Well, it’s kind of hard when I don’t even know what qualities the test looked at,” I said, trying to weasel my way out.
“I know,” Greg said. “But what do YOU think my biggest weakness is.”
I hazarded a guess, “Umm, lawn maintenance?” (See, the key is to pick a trait that really could qualify as the worst, but isn’t bad enough to truly offend your spouse.)
“What?” Greg screeched.
“Well, we’ve got all sorts of big weeds growing out there,” I said. “The side yard and back yard look horrible, and come spring I’m going to call someone to do something about the weeds.”
“Lawn maintenance wasn’t on the test,” Greg said. “My biggest weakness was modesty and humility.”
I put on my best look of surprise. And thanks to my verbal maneuvering, Greg and I are still married. Plus, he pulled some of the weeds the very next day.