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?
. . .
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.
My husband walks out of the house, and back in again, sometimes more than once, because he’s forgotten his phone/ keys/ wallet. He leaves his coffee cup inches away from the sink. He throws his dirty shirt into the laundry basket, inside out. He wears holey boxers around the house.
But the man puts up with my constant puttering and tidying and washing and OMG-what’s-that-stain. He trusts my opinion. He puts up with my shopping, and especially the book buying. We still talk and joke and laugh like we have for 10 years.
Such is marriage. And yours sound awesome.
My husband tells me that when I am out of town, he leaves every single cabinet door open (because why wouldn’t you?). But they are closed when I get home because he knows it annoys me.
Trying to understand each other is a lifelong task, isn’t it?
I love this reminder that living with someone is hard, but worth it.
I love the cabinet doors story!
I love this. And croissants.
I’ve got marriage material and I’m not afraid to use it, dangit 😉
A moment of silence for uneaten croissants…
I love this.
In no particular order:
He eats once a day. Which works for him, but the children he’s in charge of when I’m not around starve while Dad attends to “just one more thing.” I am also subjected to this on road trips (we’ll stop in the next town)
His end of a business call is often the only only words I will hear come out of his mouth for days.
“One beer” is often a 22 ounce 8% alcohol microbrew that leaves him slurring his words when he bothers to speak.
His idea of making dinner involves a box of something frozen or simply meat.
He won’t wash my car on Satirday mornings like I see the other husbands do.
He will often ask me if I just took a shower. Even when I’m in full makeup with dry hair.
He brags about me to total strangers, so when I go to the gas station some random person will ask me how grad school is going, and if I’ve left the kids home alone.
I’m pretty lucky.
It’s easy to forget how lucky we are sometimes.
Dying. This is so great. The lean-to in the dishwasher? Priceless. My husband does the leave the door open thing too, except it’s kitchen cabinet doors, not the dryer. Which hurts your head a lot more when you don’t see them still open and walk right into them. Indeed, why? Why leave them open? About a year or so ago, we had a little exchange like this about our pent up pet peeves (we’ve been living together for about 16 years). It was fun and funny. Apparently my leaving fruit stickers and wet kitchen towels on the counter and not putting the cap back on the toothpaste were itching his ribs. I’m reformed now, but probably still annoying him in some other way (with love, of course)!
He brings me coffee every morning, in bed.
He always rinses and loads the dishes.
He cleans my car for me.
He does not trim his nose hair. Ick!
He leaves chip bags under the coffee table as if I won’t see them and no one will know he had a late night snack.
He says he will read the books I ask him to but he never does.
As for me. I am sure I am just perfect. Not! We love them for all the parts of them, even the annoying parts.
I am fairly new to your blog, but I just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed all your recent marriage posts. I read lots of other “mommy blogs” but there aren’t many willing to delve into the nitty-gritty of wedded bliss … the bits of beard hair and rotting leaves.
(Glad the beard hair is not just limited to my bathroom!)
You guys have done a great job of presenting the TRUTH. Not just the wonderful, romantic, happily-ever-after parts though somehow you have a way of making those sentiments shine through in the end.
I’m sending it to my De-facto.
This is so beautiful. What an amazing proof that we never know why people do things. More times than I can count I have gotten furious with my husband only to realize that what I was so mad about was nothing at all and I completely misread the situation. Thanks for giving us permission to be annoyed at out spouses but also the reminder that it’s all in how we look at it.
YES. My husband is the quintessential leaver-of-things-on/open/running/laying around. Plus he’s a stroke survivor, and so that gives this aspect of his person a little extra umph.Which is just super. But he also manages to tell me several times a day how loved and beautiful I am, even (perhaps especially?) on the days I’m ragged and making it far from easy for him to do so. Thanks for this reminder that these things are a normal—humorous, even—part of the landscape, harmless until you give them the power to be otherwise.
We all need reminders, getting stuck on the negative is just too easy.
I am one of those….rake the leaves and put them in piles all over the lawn…and I know it drives me husband absolutely bonkers!!. Love your posts…keep them coming.