Marriage can be a funny thing. I told Chrisie before we got married that everything that already annoyed her about me still would after the wedding. She didn’t believe me (fun fact: I was right). She never lived with anyone other than family, so she didn’t realize how quickly annoyances are magnified. Fortunately in a marriage love is also magnified along with the annoyances and compromises are often proposed to lessen their power.
One of our first conflicts arose over, of all things, toothpaste. I actually read the instructions on the tube, squeeze from the bottom up, and roll the tube as I go. When I take the cap off, the toothpaste almost automatically flows out onto my brush from the pressure. Chrisie employs a different approach. She grasps the entire tube in one hand and squeezes before tossing the tube aside.
“Why do you insist on mangling the toothpaste?” I asked not long after our wedding.
“I don’t mangle it, I just use it.”
“But you’re supposed to squeeze from the bottom up and roll it. It says right here on the tube.”
“My way is fine.”
“But it looks like a strangled snake!”
I remember being so annoyed with her for a few moments every morning as I straightened out the toothpaste, which she would of course just maul again when she used it. It seemed silly to let a trivial thing upset me so I proposed a solution which she accepted. We now have his and hers toothpaste. It works.
Another thing that annoyed me in the beginning was lights. It drives me nuts when lights are left on for no reason. It drives Chrisie nuts when I point out a light has been left on.
“Honey,” I would say, “Who’s in the bathroom?”
“Because the lights are on.”
“That’s because I left them on.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because I was going right back in.”
“It’s been thirty minutes.”
“So? You complain about our electric bill. Turning off lights is a way to help reduce it.”
“I was going right back in.”
You get the point. I finally proposed that we should both always turn off lights as we left a room and I wouldn’t point it out as much. This would cut down on our electric bill and arguments. After nearly thirteen years of marriage, we have apparently both declines that proposal because she still leaves them on and I still point it out.
Of course, I have my own areas where I annoy her. She likes the bed to be made. I don’t mean she likes the bed to always be neat, I mean she likes the bed to be made. Each night I have to toss several extra pillows off that we have never used and she sometimes makes it up the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning (she has only tried to make it up with me in it once). It bothers her that I never make the bed.
“It looks so sloppy. Can’t you just at least try to make it?”
“Apparently not,” I answered, “I just don’t see the point.”
“The point? It needs to be made up. It looks better when it’s neat.” You mean like a properly squeezed tube of toothpaste? Ah, I digress.
“But I’m just going to get back in it tonight. No one’s coming over, so why bother?”
“That’s not a good enough reason.”
“It’s why you claim you leave lights on in a room.”
She pinched her nose and said, calmly, “It’s not the same. We need to make the bed.”
“You need to make the bed. I’m fine with it unmade occasionally.” No, that’s not because she’s a woman. Back off.
“Fine. I’ll make the bed. But while we’re on it, do you have to untuck the covers every night?”
“Yes. I like to tuck them under my feet. It’s more comfortable and that way no spiders can sneak between my toes.” I have no idea why she gave me the look hat came next.
To avoid this type of argument, I proposed that we shouldn’t make the bed if no one was coming over. She said no.
These situations tend to cascade into other situations. I was in my “office” working (randomly typing phrases into google counts as working right?) when I heard Chrisie call me from our bedroom.
“Honey, I need you,” she said.
I went to the bedroom where she stretched out on the bed.
“Awesome! ” I said as I rubbed my hands together.
“No,” she said as she rolled her eyes, “I don’t need you, I need you to get me something.”
“Oh,” I said crestfallen, “What?”
“Could you bring me a blanket?”
“Because I’m cold.”
“You realize you are literally laying on top of a blanket? And a sheet. You’re on a blanket and a sheet. You could just get under them.”
“But the bed’s made and I don’t want to mess it up.”
“Hey, remember when I proposed we sometimes leave the bed unmade? Wouldn’t that be handy right now?”
“Just get me the blanket.” I did.
Chrisie and I often compromise. She gets her way and I get to let her have her way.
Some might find the trend in my proposals disturbing. While it is true that I often make proposals that Chrisie declines, I am extremely grateful she said yes to the important one.
Oh, and the toothpaste. That was important too.