By Norris Burkes Nov 14 2020

“Full disclosure,” my wife often tells our dinner guests. “Be careful what you say, or you may wind up in Norris’ next column.”

It’s a fair warning. Unfortunately, the stocking crew at my local grocery store didn’t get that memo. 

Last week, I was shopping the refrigerated aisle of our community market for chocolate milk. As I was trying to decide between low fat and full strength, two chatty clerks banged their way through the stock room’s swinging doors pushing a cart full of goods.

After jumping aside, I immediately began taking notes.

Stocker 1: My wife is constantly complaining about how I don’t pick up my laundry. I told her, if you want me to pick it up, just tell me and I will.

Stocker 2: Right. No problem. You aren’t a mind reader. Why can’t women just tell us what they want.

Stocker 1: Well, she thinks it’s a problem. She says, “Sure, you’ll pick it up if I ask you to. But what I really need is for you to want to want to pick it up.”

(No, editors, he didn’t stutter. No misprint.)

Stocker 2:  What? That makes no sense.

Stocker 1: Yeah. She said, “want to want to.” I’m in trouble because I didn’t pick it up. Now I’m in trouble because she doesn’t think I want to pick things up.

The man’s impersonation of his wife was so good I could nearly hear her myself.  

Wife: Honey, I’m so glad that you’re willing to pick up your socks when I tell you. But I need you to be the man who has a burning desire to pick up his socks.

Funny, but the woman’s voice sounded a lot like my wife, Becky.

But I get it. 

For instance, I want Becky to understand the difference between WIFI and internet, but that’s not likely to happen this side of heaven. She wishes I could “want to want” to keep my collars straight. While we’ve seen slight improvements in each other, these shortcomings may be here to stay.

If I’d had the opportunity to talk to the man’s wife, I might have mentioned that sometimes we have to forgive one another’s little trespasses.

And on that subject, his wife was demonstrating some insight. The key to forgiveness starts with her “want-to-want-to” concept. Sometimes, all we can pray is, Lord, help me be “willing to be willing” to forgive someone. 


If I had been given the opportunity to talk to the man and his wife together, I would of course say, “You need to change for yourself and not for others.” 

Beyond that, it’s fair to say that the woman also saw her husband’s potential to be someone more than he was.  And she needed him to have the desire to be that person and to make a lasting change rather than merely picking up socks for this single occasion.

Becky and I are not far from our 42nd wedding anniversary. During those 42 years we’ve always settled our disagreements and never spent the night apart in anger. But more importantly and I think this was the wife’s point we strive to be the kind of person the other believes we can be. 

Of course, I wasn’t privy to the whole conversation, but I heard a lot of hope in that snippet. The man was trying to talk it out with a friend. He seemed willing to try to change. Willingness to try is the first step toward wanting to be different. 

Now, it seems, my wife wants me to make one more change. “Stop writing about our dinner guests. I want them to come back.” 

“Hmm,” I said. “I’ll get back to you on that.”

Translation I don’t want to want to do that. 

To read past columns or buy Norris’ book “Thriving Beyond Surviving,” visit Contact Norris at or 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or voicemail (843) 608-9715. Twitter @chaplain.