This is a #MarriedWithOpinions post in two parts.

When something really annoys me I’ll say that it makes my ribs itch. I’m lucky, because all things considered, Sean understands what annoys me. He’ll get a wicked grin and say, “You itchin’ yet?” It helps when I don’t have to let those things fester, but there are a few things that I don’t think he knows about because my response to them is usually when he isn’t in the room.

He folds and puts dirty dish towels back in the drawer. I  go to wipe flour off of my face and dried pizza sauce rakes across my skin.

He loads the dishwasher like he’s building a lean-to, creating a cookie sheet and mixing bowl roof so that neither the dishes on top, nor bottom, will ever be clean.

He shaves/trims his beard leaving hairs all over the counter. The spread is so great, I imagine him doing it near an industrial fan.

For all that trimming, he doesn’t always get to his nose, eyebrows, or ears.

He leaves the dryer door open. Why? Why not close it?

He mocks me for not putting the flashlight back in the drawer, yet he can never find his keys, wallet, phone, or belt.

After he drives my car, he adjusts the rearview mirror to look at himself. He never puts it back. Ever.

I’m cracking up thinking of these things, because in the big picture my worries are nothing. Anyone can get annoyed (or be annoying) and this isn’t to say that I have it figured out by any means, because I’ve talked to hair clippings, you know? It’s just that I think that there is another side to the annoyances. We got annoyed with best friends growing up, why wouldn’t there be a little grating in living with someone around the clock for decades? It isn’t failure.

The thing that hits me when I adjust the mirror? He checked himself out, not for some chick at a bar, he did it to walk in the door to me looking the best that he could. The beard trimming? He knows I am wild for a little shadow, a little scruff to make my skin sting from his kisses the next day. The dryer and the dishwasher, from what I’ve heard some guys pretend like they don’t know how the doors even function. Oh, and the flashlight, Sean is always thinking of the details I miss—mostly safety. That flashlight has come in handy so many times when the strong winds take out our power.

I imagine that a life without getting annoyed would be a bit like life without any challenges. No thanks, I’ll take this man and his ways. I reserve the right to huff from time to time, it’s only natural, right?

. . .

Marriage, amiright?

Ten years with the same person and you know everything. In our case, hectic schedules, deadlines, school drama, work drama collide in a stressful spin-cycle.  The one person there, through it all, is your spouse. With any luck, you’re sharing the burden, communicating, asking what is needed. Even if that’s true, there are things we all do—perhaps inadvertently—that actually add to the stress or our significant others. For example:

My wife likes to help with yard work. In the fall, she rakes leaves into piles all over the lawn. Trouble is, she leaves them there—and if I don’t immediately deliver them into the woods, they result in broad patches of dead grass. Soggy sod stains that could have been avoided.

She unplugs phone cables, stubbornly insisting that they ‘draw power’ all day if they’re left in the outlet. I have no idea if this is true or not, but its frustrating when I think I’ve plugged in a device to charge, only to discover—hours later—that there’s no juice because the prongs are completely out of the wall.

Amanda has a thing about ants. Insects in general put her in a panic, but ants—boy howdy, it’s war. She can’t stand the sight of a single one. They don’t bother me, unless they’re crawling up my leg, but their presence in our house is unacceptable to Amanda. Not really an issue itself, but all three girls have learned about their mother’s quirk and will announce, at full volume, the presence of any ant, at any time. It happens a lot.

Times like that I bellow about calming down, it’s just an ant, I mean—really. Amanda tells me not to get upset, but I feel like the kids run the show around here. From time to time I’d like to see them not be so damn wild. She shakes her head and says they’re kids. I think she’s a sucker. They’re all girls, each a lot like their mother, and as such, they know exactly what they can get away with. Still they push the envelope.

I like to push things too. Mostly food into my mouth. I married a bit of a health nut. “Portion control.” she says. “No you can’t have seconds.” “Stop eating things off the kids’ plates.”

“But I’m loading the dishwasher and I don’t want to pre-rinse.” I respond, through bits of hamburger. Solid dad-logic.
“It doesn’t matter, leave it.” she answers. Who has two thumbs and hates high-fructose corn syrup? My wife.

She’s in great shape. Runs like a gazelle, even after months without jogging so much as a mile. Sometimes we hit the gym together, and we joke about her guns. She’s a broad-shouldered beauty, made even better by her three daughters and her award-winning ad agency. The business has seen good times and bad over 10 years, and continues to grow. She’s beautiful, healthy, and successful. So, my biggest frustration with the person I married is that she frets about her age. I shake my head as she compares herself to some hollywood starlet, and laments a stray hair or a sunburn —for what? I’m not sure. Still she worries that she’s not enough.

Living with the same person for, well, for good, is a challenge of sorts. Amanda and I work together, in addition to sharing a home, so there’s no job or office to hide in. We get on one-another’s nerves, no doubt. I think that it’s easy for people to be so annoyed by another person that we don’t look for answers to explain a particular decision. I also read a lot of spouse-bashing and stereotypes that exist, especially online. And while my wife can be, at times, maddening—here’s the rub: there’s a reason for everything that ends up annoying me.

She worries that she’s not enough, because some old boyfriend said as much to her.

She counts my calories because she’s trying to keep me healthy.

She hates ants because they make her feel like our house is dirty.

She’s unplugging to save money by lowering our electric bill.

She has a higher tolerance for our girls’ hysteria, and can get me to remember that they’re just being kids.

And those piles of leaves she abandoned? That was probably because she ran out of afternoon, and headed in to get dinner ready for our family.

As a guy; impatient, tired and reasonably self-centered, I have to look past what annoys me to whatever circumstances created the situation.

When I’m put-out about something, it also helps to realize that it could be worse. Heck, after 10 years of marriage, my wife would be well within her rights to say “Hey Husky, I’m tired of being married to a fat guy.” instead, she gently reminds me, “Put down the croissant, Hon.”

Annoyed. And grateful.