Friday, December 9, 2011

What's bugging you?

Bill and I will celebrate 40 years of marriage in June. Imagine that!

Together we've endured personal challenges and tragedies and celebrated successes. We survived the Raising of Teenagers, which coincided with the Uprooting of Family to Move Overseas. We've climbed great heights (literally) in the Grand Canyon, where I learned of Bill's fear of heights. We've navigated the Amazon Jungle and learned to ski at somewhat advanced ages.

But the latest challenge blind-sided us.

Living together 24-7 takes a certain skill set with which we were unequipped.

Bill beat me to the "at home" punch, having retired a couple of years ago. He developed his own routine, which I kind of had an idea about, but wasn't sure. I knew it involved daily trips to one or more supermarkets, as he planned meals each day. I suspected he took a nap each afternoon (evidence: messed up pillows on bed) and didn't shower until right before I came home from work (evidence: wet hair).

So I invaded his world, and needed to be careful about not screwing with his routine.


Not surprisingly, I have opinions about certain things like household planning and personal hygiene. I think it's especially important to get up and get dressed, say before 9:00 am. I also think it's important to have a meal plan for the week and shop only once, thus saving on gas $$, not making last minute impulse purchases, and knowing what time and resources are needed for the evening meal. And I don't understand naps at all. I like to save it all up for night time.

Here's what's happened. I've pretty much taken over the meal planning/cooking and I think he's OK with that. In fact, I think he's relieved. We still share some of it, but for the most part it's my gig. And I love to cook good food, and missed doing so when he was handling it, so this is working out well.

I've found that sometimes the day does get away from me, and it's 2:00 or so before I get into the shower. How does this happen? I'm not sure, but I'm working on it, 'cause I feel like I'm falling down the slippery slope of slovenliness when it does. (I think those days may have something to do with this blog...)

About naps? I gave up on that with Bill a long time ago. His metabolism is foreign to me. I could no more sleep in the afternoon (unless sick or depressed) than fly to the moon. But he loves his naps and they make him a happier person.

But there's something else.

For the past 40 years one or both of us have worked, so we shared maybe 14 hours a day, and around 8 of them were spent sleeping. The remaining 6 were easily consumed by the miscellany of daily life - child rearing, chores, creating and consuming meals. You know - the stuff lives are made of.

And now we've discovered we have little irritating habits that annoy each other.
Some background: It's important to understand that we (me especially) are masters at passive aggressiveness. I may have even perfected it into an art, so you might never know whether a slammed kitchen cabinet is unintended or a backdoor punctuation of my pissy mood. Sarcasm is my next best weapon, and has been used to great and hurtful effect. Bill, on the other hand, simply retreats into solitude when he's bothered by me or anything/one else. It takes real effort to get at the source of his malcontent. 

This Thanksgiving when the kids were home, Julie was talking about how she has the same tendency. I'm sure she learned it from me. Anyway, she said she's been making a real effort to be open and honest about what's bothering her, and enjoys not being annoyed all the time. How novel! I liked the concept.

So when I realized that Bill's habit of leaving used toothpicks around the house (I know: EW) made me want to scream, I tried the new approach. "You know, I hate picking up your toothpicks. Would you please throw them away?"  And guess what? He said "Sure - no problem."  Eureka! It works!

By the way, these are awesome toothpicks*
It not only works, it's contagious.  The other day I was cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry and had filled the trashcan to overflowing.  Bill walked in, saw it and said " do that a lot and it really bugs me."

And I thought - he's absolutely right. I know he'll empty the trash, so I just keep jamming stuff in there til the top won't shut.  No more.

(Do you think he knows I do that dishwasher thing too?  That's when you open it to put in a dirty dish, realize everything is clean, and shut it quickly, leaving it for the next person to empty. I just wish there were a way to make that green light go on again. Is it just me?)


So what's this all about? We're learning to live with each other (with great thanks to Julie), something we haven't done full-time, in 40 years. Old dogs/new tricks: lots of fun!

*Here's what's great about the toothpicks, aka Doctor's BrushPicks.  They have a tiny little brush on one end for whooshing between your teeth. It actually feels good! (Just don't leave them lying around)

1 comment:

  1. I saw your diary on DailyKos (10 good things about not working) and followed you over here. I found myself LOL'ing, nodding in agreement, and enjoying! Keep up the great work!