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“Hey, great news, Ruth and Gayle just text that they’ll be at your party – unless weather prevents travel,” my husband, Ron said stepping into the bathroom while I dried my hair.

Once I decided to embrace turning 50, I was all in. So when my husband suggested we host a dinner party to celebrate, I agreed thinking a “dinner party” seemed on par for someone my age. After I created the invitation, Ron reminded me that my involvement in throwing this soiree was complete.

“Ah, I hope they come,” I said of my dearest friends who live in Casper. “Don’t forget to mark them down on the RSVP list I created for you.”

The puzzlement on Ron’s face should have been my first clue.

“You do have the RSVP list, right?” I turned off the hair dryer lest I miss hearing his response.

His face remained crinkled.

“Ron, where’s the RSVP list?”

“I think it’s on my desk at work,” he said without a care in the world.

Meanwhile, my obsession with organization and etiquette reached an all-time high. How does someone lose an RSVP list? What would Miss Manners think of such a lax approach to hosting a dinner party? I already had the thank you notes addressed, stamped and waiting to be written. Doesn’t Ron know how to host a party? I suddenly realized why Miss Manners was single. Had she married and her husband lost the RSVP list, she’d suddenly be known as the “Widow Manners.” I was beginning to wonder my husband’s own fate.

“Don’t worry,” Ron said. “I’ve got it all logged up here.” He pointed to his bald head as if his intangible memory was the equivalent to a physical list. I’ll take matter over mind any day of the week.

“Are you trying to have this be the last birthday I ever celebrate?” I asked and he simply flashed his sideways smile and my resolve melted.

“This is going to a great party,” he said. “I’ve got it all taken care of.”

Ron and I couldn’t be further alike. My desk is extremely organized with my pens in color-coded order, my pencils sharpened to perfection and my sticky notes are size-stacked. Ron’s desk consists of piles. While he knows what every pile contains – he’s a stacker and I’m a sorter. There’s a place for everything and every thing must be in its place.

Ron accumulates piles the way, I diminish mine. One of my favorite things to do is scratch something off my “Weekly Goals” list. Yes, I make a list of weekly goals. Doesn’t everyone?

It’s probably why Ron and I complement each other. He’s the yin to my yang. And in the Chinese philosophy of the yin-yang theory, there is no valuation hierarchy. In short, yin is no greater than yang and vice versa. Rather, yin yang is a process of harmonization that ensures a constant, dynamic balance.

It’s why I know at a core level that despite our vast differences in how we approach things, my husband and I remain centered on what really matters. And it’s not an RSVP list or fulfilling an outdated form of social etiquette, it’s about the harmony that’s created when we work together toward something we both want – our friends to our house for dinner.

So while I know that my husband truly believes that his organized chaos is as efficient as my retentive organization, simply because we can each find what we’re looking for, there’s no argument that we’d be lost without each other.

Mary Billiter can be reached at


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