Say Yes

In the short story "Say Yes" by Tobias Wolff, the couple is able to keep romance in their marriage as shown through their routine arguments, the symbols in the story, and the end result of making up.
They spice up their marriage through routine arguments, with the expectation of romance later on. When they first start the night's arguments, the husband notices a "look" in his wife's eyes that tells him, through experience, "he should keep his mouth shut"(444). The husband never does though. "Actually it made him talk more"(444). This is not the first time there has been a battle of words between them as shown when after a particularly touching debate, the wife goes into the living room and the husband then hears "her turning the pages of a magazine"(446). Knowing by the sound of it "that she was too angry to be actually reading it"(446). Showing that this had happened before between them, he thinks "she didn't snap through the pages the way he would have done"(446). It is also shown that the argument will be resolved in time when the husband says, "It's shallow"(445), referring to not only his wife's cut thumb, but also their arguments. He then says, "Tomorrow you won't even know it's there"(445). He implies that the argument isn't that important, and she would forget about the whole thing soon enough. For the night, however, things have been made somewhat more exciting than before.
Several symbols convey the couple's feelings, and what the ultimate result of their arguing will be like. The wife seems to mold their conversation in the direction she wants to make it go when she "began washing the bowl again, turning it?as though she were shaping it"(444). The husband's resentfulness at many of her words and the turn in the conversation have made the mood dull just as "the water had gone flat and grey"(445) in the sink. Inevitably the heat of the dispute was at hand but would cool in turn like the metal of the silverware they were washing. As the heat of the water hit it, it was "darkened to pale blue, then turned silver again"(445). While the cut had been painful at the moment, it hadn't been deep and would not be noticed in time. The dogs in the alley were also symbolic of the couple's relationship. The female having something in her mouth and tossing it and growling is similar to what the couple is doing. They play fight together and growl a lot but in the end they trot off together happily. The symbolism used provides an added insight into the various stages of the story.
Making up and the resulting romance later on that night were the couple's inevitable reason behind their argument. The husband cleaned the kitchen which resulted in it looking new, "the way it looked when they were first shown the house"(446). Thus implying that it was a start of a renewal of their relationship later on. When he later went outside he thought of "how well they knew each other, and his throat tightened so that he could hardly breathe"(446). How unimportant the arguing is in the total scheme of things. While the dogs in the alley had growled and wrestled together, they had later trotted off together. So does the couple makeup peaceably as if nothing serious had taken place, and they start anew. The spice in their marriage from the arguments adds an undeniable renewal of their passions. Later on as they come to an understanding, the husband lies in bed awaiting his wife. "His heart pounded the way it had on their first night together"(447). Their romance kindled afresh.
As the years pass them by, the couple struggles to keep romance alive and their relationship zestful. The couple's routine arguments, the symbols provided in the story and their making up shows their endeavor to keep the relationship refreshing. Thus renewing the spice of excitement and the spark of their passions together.

Work cited:

Wolff, Tobias. "Say Yes." Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense; 7th Edition. Ed. Thomas R. Arp. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1998. 444-447.