Do you remember the kind of notes you wrote your Significant Other when you first fell in love? Sloppy, sentimental dreck, most likely. Even if you managed to keep up a reasonable degree of romance, I guarantee the ratio of informational to emotional content increased geometrically after you got married. No more cute love notes in the lunch bag, or Post-It Notes with hearts on them stuck to the refrigerator. That’s just the way it is.

Except it really isn’t. It’s not that the love and caring evaporates from the communication between spouses, it’s that it gets encrypted. It gets run through a filter of shared experience, and comes out in a sort of shorthand.

For example, let me decode the email I received from Mrs. Agent this afternoon, line by line:

I have washed the horse. It’s in the dryer. Boy it smells so much better.

Translation: As you know, the most recent ginormous stuffed animal that our daughter is unable to sleep without has been getting progressively more and more disgusting. We have discussed the high probability that her need to sleep on it every night is responsible for not only some skin conditions, but a lingering odor detectable upon waking. As we have also discussed, by laundering said stuffed horse, the potential exists that it will become unfit for continued nocturnal use, with the subsequent complete and utter emotional breakdown of our eldest child. I just wanted to let you know that we have embarked upon an effort to launder said horse, and while it is too early to determine whether it will be able to return to her bed, at least progress has been made in rendering it more hygienic.

You have my permission to use any and all means necessary to rid the mailbox of ants. There is a huge pile of eggs in there now. I feel like ants are crawling all over me since I brought the mail in.

Translation: My long-held revulsion with creepy-crawling insects has finally overcome my initial reluctance to use toxic chemicals to control the ant population in our new mailbox. I must admit that my initial attempts to use eco-friendly agents has failed, and am requesting that you employ multiple lethal chemical agents to eradicate the infestation, as I know you greatly enjoy that sort of thing.

Remember to make an appt with [endocrinologist].

Translation: Beloved, I am aware that while you can quote the dialog from every Monty Python sketch ever filmed, you are constitutionally unable to remember to make a doctor’s appointment. By providing you with this gentle reminder, I am effectively washing my hands of any further obligation to make sure you make the necessary phone call. If I go to the pharmacy and they can’t refill your prescription again, it will be your own damned fault.

I’ve an appt to take in the Sienna for an oil change, etc. on Wed. 5/31

Translation: Dear one, I have become weary of your endless inquiries as to whether I have recently checked the oil, the tire pressure, the coolant level, and /or the transmission fluid in the new car. I am therefore scheduling a visit to the dealership to address these issues. I suggest you hold your tongue regarding this subject in the near future.

Feline toenails have been trimmed.

Translation: I am sympathetic to both your bloodloss and the scarring that tends to occur when the cats’ claws grow a touch too long. I am also aware of your concerns that they might find themselves dangling helplessly from the curtains by a snagged rear paw. I have therefore today wrestled them into a cat carrier, dragged them screaming to the vet, and sat upon them while the vet trimmed their claws.

You owe me a tall, cold Colorado Bulldog.