Friday, 14 May 2010

It's the Little Things

The Husband and I are coming up to a milestone anniversary in a few weeks. I plan on creating several posts to mark this momentous occasion. Without getting sickeningly syrupy and cavity-inducing, I hope to capture some of the more memorable aspects of our marriage over this past quarter century.

I thought that I might begin this prosaic journey by dealing with the longevity thing. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked recently what the secret is to our long and supposedly happy marriage. I could easily respond with the stock answers. You know the ones. The crap you read in self-help books or see on Dr. Phil.

  1. Never go to bed angry. A crock of shit!!! I can't tell you how many times we have screamed through the night, only to wake to the same dispute in the morning. Anger and disagreements are part of marriage and there can't be an artificial time-limit placed on their resolutions. What matters more is the solution.
  2. Make time for dates. Frankly-more bullshit. The best times together are the ones that aren't forced or planned. Popcorn and a movie on the couch is often better than expensive restaurants, flowers and faux feelings. We like cooking dinner together. It is interesting to note that romance can be found in the mundane.
  3. Me isn't as important as we. Oy!! What nonsense. In order to maintain a healthy we, the individual needs to be nurtured. Time for oneself is crucial if time together is going to be productive. 
You get the point. Marriage cannot be boiled down to bullet points and pop psychobabble. I have come to believe that one of the primary reasons that The Husband and I have lasted as long as we have, given our polar opposite personalities and the diverseness of our interests, is that we tolerate the stuff that we hate in each other. The little things. For example, I loathe the fact that The Husband is a pile creator and collector of obsolete electronics. He cannot seem to file anything. We have piles of papers in the home office and we have piles of papers in a small hidden room in the basement that is so massive, it is threatening to turn into a Japanese monster movie. We have piles of collected papers in several locations in the kitchen and we have piles of papers in the bedroom. Open a drawer-piles. Open a cupboard-piles. He isn't a slob. He just can't seem to figure out a decent system for dealing with piles. When I scream and rant and beg him to organize and clean, he simply moves the piles to one of the other out of the way locations, hoping that I won't notice. The same goes for the myriad of electronic crap that is stuffed into various crevices around the house that would be much better off in a components graveyard. We could probably outfit several homes with old stereo equipment, phones, computers and the like. We even have all of the relevant connector cables and power sources. The problem is trying to discern which piece goes with the other. It is an electronics jigsaw puzzle that would probably stump Einstein.

In the interest of fair play, The Husband hates the fact that I am a picker. I pick out my favourite nuts from the bowl. I hate the peanuts, but love the cashews. I eat the cashews and leave him the peanuts. Seems very fair to me, but not to him. In a bag of Chex Mix, I leave him half-filled bags of pretzels. I only like certain flavours of candy, so it isn't unusual to see small plates left with only green and black gummies. When eating popcorn, I like the half-popped, slightly burned kernels. (I acknowledge that this is extremely weird, but it is who I am!) The Husband complains that when I go digging for said kernels, I disrupt the salt to kernel ratio on the remainder of the bowl. In a bowl of fruit, I leave the melon and eat the strawberries and grapes. Unfair? Certainly, considering he is allergic to melon. When he complains vociferously about my bad habits, I acknowledge that he is absolutely right and I continue eating the cashews and leaving the peanuts.

We have learned to not get too worked up about the little things. Sure, they bug us like an itch that remains unscratched, but we have learned that there are too many major obstacles to cope with in a marriage to get consistently worked up about piles and peanuts. That doesn't mean that we don't yell about this stuff from time to time, we just acknowledge that it will never truly be resolved.

The longevity thing in a relationship is as much about concession as it is about commitment. After nearly twenty-five years of marriage, I can honestly state that it's the little things. More to come.

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