Adjustment
by Alice Gubler Sabin
Adjustment article title illustration from Relief Society Magazine

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Adjustment" was originally published in The Relief Society Magazine May, 1964, vol. 51, no. 5, pp. 334-337, 1964. The story is based on an actual event in Alice's life.

Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library has made digital scans of Relief Society Magazine available online as part of the Relief Society Magazine Digital Project. This article is online there in the original format at:

The article is reprinted here with permission.



"JASON," Salley spoke softly. Jason did not answer. He was reading the evening paper. "Jason, honey," she said. His foot twitched a bit. That was all the response she got. "Anybody home?" she asked, and then added, "obviously not." She put the magazine down that she had been reading and went over beside him. Ruffling his hair, she said, "Hi, Jason! Remember me? I'm your wife Salley."

Jason stirred and made a gruff little sound. She knew she had almost got through to him. Sometimes he was the deafest and dumbest person on earth. She glanced at the paper he was reading. No wonder! He was intent on the sports section. She was no competition for the basketball scores. With resignation, she retrieved her magazine and curled up on the sofa.

Ten minutes later he let his paper fall to the floor. "Did you say something, Salley?" he asked.

Salley did not raise her eyes from the magazine. Silently she went on reading. He stretched his long arms and legs luxuriously, and then extricated himself from his deep chair. "I declare I heard someone speak. Have you any idea who it was?" He stood looking down at her. She turned a page of her magazine and continued reading. He ran his fingers through her shiny curls, tumbling them. "Hi, Salley, remember me? I'm your husband Jason." She went on reading. He pushed back a curl and kissed her on the tip of one ear.

"Oh, Jason," she said, "you're impossible. It was hours ago when I spoke to you. I have forgotten what I wanted to say."

"But, honey," he protested, "I couldn't hear you. You see, I was reading."

"Oh!" she said with exasperation. "Honestly! There isn't another man like you in all the world! I ask you a question one day, and you do not hear me until the next and then you answer me. By that time I've forgotten what I asked you."

He grinned. "That, my dear, is one of the remarkable things about your husband. My mind is equipped with a delayed action device. Lots of trouble is averted that way."

Now he was teasing her. This was probably the wrong time to approach him with the subject she had wanted to mention.

He smiled at her. What a little pixie she was. A petite little pixie with a snip nose. He sat down beside her. "I'm sorry," he said. "Tell me please what it was you wanted."

"I really did want to talk to you," she said. "We've been married for almost three months. Don't you think it's time that we sat down and had an—an interview?"

"A what?" Jason's voice went up to a peak.

"An interview. You know—like employers and employees do when they've been together for a certain period of time."

He blinked and made as if to speak but uttered no sound.

"There's nothing queer about that," she explained. "I read all about it right here in this magazine. 'How to Make Your Marriage Work,' by Dr. Snodgras." She was very matter of fact.

"Isn't our marriage working?" he asked.

"Of course it is, silly, but Dr. Snodgras says this is supposed to be our adjustment period. He says that both of us do lots of little things that irritate each other, and we should talk it out and then it won't irritate us any more."

"Oh, I see," he said indulgently. "Seems as if I read something like that in a book once."

"You did?" Her enthusiasm rose. "Then you'll understand all about it. Tell me what you remember."

"Let me see." He wrinkled his brow. "I believe it said there are many adjustments to make in marriage—and—oh, yes. I remember now. It said the wives are the ones to do the adjusting. Wives are usualy younger than husbands, and sometimes smaller, and naturally more pliable. A husband can't change. He is big and burly and set up like hard clay by the time he gets married. I think that's what the book said."

"You must have read the wrong book. I guess the interview idea is not so good after all."

"Quite the contrary. I think it's a fine idea. When do we begin?"

"Are you sure you're interested?" she asked.

"Of course."

"Well…" she said reluctantly. "I have made a few notes."

"On how to conduct an interview?"

She blushed. "No. On things that I should point out to you."

"I see. You mean notes on the things I do that irritate you." He pretended to be wounded.

"Honey," she said apologetically, "there's almost nothing wrong with you. Remember, we aren't discussing big things—like money. I won't even mention the time Jan asked me to go shopping with her and you gave me five dollars and told me not to go hog wild on it and Jan said, 'That's ridiculous. No one can go hog wild with only five dollars.' Dr. Snodgras says big things seldom undermine a marriage, because people always correct them. It's the little things that do it, like tapping a pencil against your teeth all the time when you're trying to think. Little things can be terribly distracting you know."

"I see. And we must be broadminded and understanding and practical about the whole discussion."

"That's exactly what Dr. Snodgras said. Jason, you're wonderful. This is going to be great. Here is a pad and pencil for you. As I go over the pointers I have here, things will come to your mind to jot down about me. Feel free to interrupt anytime. You may want to justify yourself you know."

"I'm anxious for you to begin."

"You promise me you won't be hurt?" she asked anxiously.

"Not at all. I shall remind myself that it is all in the interest of family solidarity." He flashed her a smile.

"You almost disarm me when you smile at me like that. I am trying to be very objective. Now, first on my list I have—honestly, Jason, I'm not so sure I like this idea."

"It's great! I insist that you proceed. I can hardly wait my turn," he said heartily.

"Really? Well then I shall begin. Let me see…" She studied her notes. "First of all—your shoes. It always bothers me where you take them off at nights, because in the dark I stumble over them. And speaking of stumbling in the dark—I wouldn't have to do it if I could just wake you. Like the other night. There were some cats yowling by our window. I couldn't wake you, so I had to scare them away myself. Jason, do you think you could sleep just a little lighter?"

"I shall try," he said obediently "But, really, Salley, you should turn on your lamp if you're going to prowl in the night."

"I'm afraid I might wake you if I turn on my light."

"That's what I love about you, my dear." He grinned. "You are so consistent."

"About your eating habits," she continued. "I really don't mind if you want your toast so brown I almost have to burn it, or your egg so raw that I have to look the other way while you eat it, and that you sugar your tomatoes and salt your melons. I guess I can get used to that, but it did bother me when you said my angel cake was like trying to eat fog and you scrunched a piece of it into a little wad because you said a man needed something to sink his teeth in."

Jason had been speedily jotting down notes. He looked up.

"I apologized about your cake, dear. Yours is the lightest in the world. I shouldn't have teased you."

"I forgive you. But couldn't you try not to be so hungry when you come home and I don't have dinner ready? And couldn't you come home promptly on the days I do have it ready instead of keeping me waiting?"

He was taking notes again.

"You are writing an awfully lot. Can you listen and write too?"

"I haven't missed a word. Finish your list. I'm getting anxious for my turn."


SHE was losing interest in her own list, his looked so ominous. But she must finish what she had started. "I have a note here to remind you not to squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle, and for you to please not hang your soiled shirts back in your closet, and when you wipe dishes, would you please put the forks in with the forks and not with the spoons—sorry. I meant to cross that one out. It's nice of you to wipe the dishes. And couldn't you change your attitude about women drivers? Every time you see a car parked wrong you say some woman did it. Well, I watched the other day to see who drove off in the car that straddled two parking spaces in the market parking lot. It was a fat man."

Jason had filled the second page on his pad. Salley stopped and looked at him. "I don't believe I had better finish my list now," she said, "it would be nice for you to have a turn."

He sat thoughtfully studying his notes.

"Will you please go ahead?" she said. She glanced at the magazine lying on the stand. In bold red letters on its shiny cover the title of the feature article by Dr. Snodgras glared at her. Actually, she had been riding on a pink cloud ever since she had married Jason. She had been wonderfully happy, until something she read in that article punctured a few holes in her cloud.

Jason looked up from his list. Now he was going to deliver the load. She felt miserable. She wished she had torn up her list. There really wasn't one item of importance upon it. The number one item on his list would be that she talked too much. He regarded her silently. "Go on, Jason, please," she said in a small voice.

She arose. As she did so she brushed against the magazine and it fell to the floor. Jason came over to her and put a big firm hand on each of her shoulders. He regarded her tenderly.

"I have been writing a list of all of the things I adore about you," he said. "Honey, I wouldn't change a hair of your head. You are perfect just as you are."

Frustrated and repentant, she ground her heel into the magazine on the floor. She buried her face against him to hide the hot tears. With a merry chuckle he kissed her.