The holidays were a whirlwind of activity, and New Year's Eve has come and gone. Suddenly, it is January 20 and something seems different. Your spouse or partner seems strangely distant or removed, so what's going on? Ponder as you might, it just doesn't seem to add up. Suddenly you scan the calendar, and it comes to you, crystal clear -- it is tax season!

It should have occurred to you immediately -- they have all of the classic signs. The glazed eyes, the little conversation, how distant they are, and the clincher, their difficulty hearing you when you speak to them. Why does it seem to elude you so often? You should be expecting it and almost able to pencil it in on your calendar. They have taken their annual trip to another planet.

So now you make your plans. Meals that pack well for the office, extra books for reading during those long evenings at home, recorded television shows, and dinner dates with friends, so you won't be calling them too often.

We move into February, and they are working a couple of nights a week now, and Saturday's fatigue will begin to settle in on them soon. They will have trouble recognizing you -- don't take it personally, it is just tax season! It won't be long now before it extends to three nights a week and part of Sunday. This is the time to clean out the basement and get a jump on that spring cleaning. If you have been considering having that demonstration for your best friend who just started a new business, book it now, you have plenty of time. So, you fell for an accountant or CPA, didn't you? This is just part of the relationship.

Forget serious discussions or making plans -- this is the period of your independence; they are emotionally unavailable for the duration. Yes, I did say unavailable. You can run things by them so you know they are informed, but do not expect them to remember what you told them, where you are going or what you are doing, unless it involves numbers. If you could masquerade as a number you might get their attention; it would be brief, but effective. Now if cameras could capture thoughts, you would see exactly where their minds are now: 4 x 800 minus 3 percent for this and 1n percent for that ... wow, imagine all that clutter, but without the CPAs and accountants, where would we be?

Oh, heavens, it's April, and you know what that means: They are never home now, they work seven days and at least five nights, perhaps six nights a week. There are the late clients too, those who go into their office after April 1 and ask the dreaded question while smiling, "I know I am late but can you squeeze me in?" I know you want to squeeze them but say nothing. They leave at 7 a.m. and return by midnight, maybe.

There is a constant, unending fog around them and they have very little, if anything, to say; they are in total numbers mode. They cannot comprehend anything other than the looming deadline ahead of them. Do not ask anything of them that requires a serious answer or much consideration; handle those things yourself.

It will be over soon, that you can be sure of, and your accountant or CPA will emerge from this long tax season. But remember, they will require extra sleep and lots of food. You have been practicing for months now, just keep the food coming, and let them rest. If you are very lucky, their old self will return, and life will resemble some form of normalcy, but don't relax into a comfortable sense of relief -- there are extensions to deal with soon.

This is tax season, from the spouse or significant other's perspective. To survive it with grace, one must have a good sense of humor.

Mary Byrne is the wife of a CPA in Rhode Island, and just survived her sixth tax season.

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