My husband's mistress, then and now

When my husband and I first started dating, he had a mistress. Their relationship continued even once Jim and I were married. He simply could not give her up, and he definitely could not keep his hands off her.

She had no name — even way back then Jim and I felt the same regarding not assigning names to things such as vehicles, musical instruments or, um, body parts. Despite her nameless state, though, Jim loved her so.

"Her" was his guitar — an acoustic twelve-string Yamaha FG-312 he'd bought himself a few years before. The spruce and mahogany beauty with the Indian Rosewood fingerboard was his pride, his joy.

child with guitar

Like I said, Jim couldn't keep his hands off her. That was okay when we were dating and I swooned over his plucking and playing of "Stairway to Heaven" and "The Rain Song" and "Thank You" (which eventually became one of our wedding songs) plus more from Zeppelin and a handful of others.

It wasn't all that okay when we had little ones to care for and I wanted a helping hand. Or an adult to converse with after long days on my own spent changing diapers and babbling with our three babies born within three years.

I wanted him to put down the <cuss> guitar and pay some attention to me.

So I huffed and puffed, rolled my eyes and whined when he'd pick up his guitar. I complained that he was always playing the darn thing.

Then he stopped playing it always. He played it less... and less... and less. Slowly but surely Jim's mistress took a backseat to me, to the daily grind.

Slowly but surely I realized what a selfish, self-centered little <cuss> witchy poo I'd been.

So I urged Jim to play his guitar more. "Learn a song for me," I requested for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries. I bought him a six-string in hopes it would encourage him to pick up his twelve-string more often.

But he didn't. And thirty years into our marriage, the twelve-string stood on a stand, unplayed, out of tune, with broken strings thanks to various visiting children — never our own! — plucking and playing where they weren't supposed to.

It stood strum-free and silent for a few years. Then I came up with a plan.

Weeks before Jim's March 2 birthday, I asked a guitar-playing friend if he'd string and tune Jim's twelve-string... without Jim knowing. So one day last week, soon after Jim left for work, my dear friend Debbie and her guitar-playing hubby, Mark, arrived at my house.

Mark did the stringing, tuning, playing and perfecting Jim's guitar while Debbie and I chatted, caught up. Then the two of them packed up and pulled out of my drive just before Jim came home for lunch. (Hence my mention here of being thankful my animals can't speak).

The guitar went back on the stand. A stand Jim passes nearly every day but rarely notices. For four days he didn't notice his guitar had been re-strung with shiny strings and was primed to play.

Until this past Saturday, when we celebrated Jim's birthday. I made Jim close his eyes, gave him the picks Mark had bought to open, then pulled his guitar from behind my back.

guitar gift 

He smiled and he strummed. He picked a little then he played — perfectly! — the first notes to "The Rain Song."

The sound brought tears to my eyes. Literally. I had to leave the room, listen from the kitchen.

I will never again ask my husband to stop playing.

I will never again complain that my husband has a mistress.

Today's fill-in-the-blank:

One of the more successful birthday gifts I've given was ___________.