The Four Fingers

The first finger is about your significant other, the rest are about you.

A friend of mine, from San Diego, is a widower.  Recently, three of us shared a vacation with him in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Despite the fact that he lost his wife nearly ten years ago, he spoke often and lovingly of her while we were together.

His fond memories frequently seem rooted in his admiration of her creative ability to keep their relationship affectionate and peaceful.  In this vein, one of her techniques was to teach him about “The Four Fingers”:

The first finger (fore finger) stands for “You’re right.”

The second finger (middle finger) stands for “I’m wrong.”

The third finger (ring finger) stands for “I’m sorry.”

The fourth finger (pinky finger) stands for “How can I make it better for you next time, Honey?”

One might assume that the lover who discovers that he or she is incorrect on any disputed matter recites “The Four Fingers” to the other.  This misses the point.

Arguments between those who profess the significance of the other in their life are regularly the habitual rancor between two debaters, each of whom is convinced that they are correct to the extent that nothing will persuade them otherwise.  Reciting “The Four Fingers” to one’s cohort in such cases sends the message that the relationship is more important than winning.


Initially, reciting “The Four Fingers” to one’s partner is done explicitly and seriously.  Doing so associates the attached philosophy to the significant shift this represents in many relationships.  Certainly, sincerity should always be the foundation upon which this message is conveyed.

However, the magic associated with this message is that, once incorporated within the bond two people share, it only becomes necessary to wave the four fingers in the direction of one’s lover to cause both to smile with the understanding of an inside joke whose significant ramifications are often life changing.

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