Marriage is not what I thought it would be. When you announce your engagement you are immediately inundated with well-wishes and hugs and sappy smiles from your ever-patient girl friends who stood by you as you all waited for “him” to finally pop the question. Then, with barely an intake of breath, these same well-wishers immediately tack on more advice than Miss Manners, Dear Abby and my old Aunt Meg could administer.
“Keep the communication lines open!”
“Don’t go to bed angry!”
“Keep separate bank accounts!”
“Don’t keep separate bank accounts!”
I tried taking it all in, but let’s face it, I was a bride-to-be in love, so unless you were telling me how wonderful my betrothed was or how beautiful the ring was, I didn’t really hear you.
In hindsight I have to say that while all that advice (which has now sunk in, two years later) was good and sound and sometimes relevant, the issues I’m having with marriage on a daily basis I was soundly unprepared for.
No one came close to telling me that our primary disagreements would not involve money, child-rearing or religion, but rather twist-ties, china and bed sheets. And I’ve come to believe that it’s true when people say, “Blame your parents.” If it weren’t for my husband and I having different parents and therefore different childhoods, we wouldn’t have any of these issues. Of course, we’d also be siblings, which raises a multitude of issues off-topic.
For example, my husband was raised in a family that dutifully replaced the weird little plastic doo-dad thing on the bread bag. I, on the other hand, came from a family who discarded said doo-dad and just twisted the bag closed. (I also will argue that going sans doo-dad is more efficient, which matters to me, even when making toast.) I have learned, through trial and error, that replacing the doo-dad means more to my husband than discarding it does to me, so now I twirl the bag and attach the plastic bit, but not without a little sigh of resignation.
China is also a continuing battle. Not politics or export issues, but rather what we eat off of. I was raised by a mother who felt having sets of dishes that are only used twice a year when grandma comes by is wasteful, and I concur. My husband however, claims he is not “comfortable” eating off the “good” china and instead digs to the bottom of the stack for the older, non-wedding china. I point out that it’s all technically china, just one has a green band of color and the other has pretty little swirls of silver and “Royal Doulton” imprinted on the bottom. He merely stares at me and rolls his eyes (like I’m the one being ridiculous). So when I set the table, I use the matching wedding china. When he sets it, he has the old china and everyone else might have some concoction of the two.
The last issue comes out of the bedroom. This is a very personal decision and one that we are still figuring out how to accommodate in each other; just how tight to tuck in the sheets. I have learned, to my painful discovery, that my husband likes to have his feet essentially bound between the mattress and the sheets; as tight as physics will allow. I do wonder if this goes back to some prank his older brother played on him. I, on the other hand, appreciate the ability to move my feet and not have them bent down like a prima ballerina on pointe. So after some tucking, untucking and retucking, we have agreed to disagree and just keep our fingers crossed that Martha doesn’t stop by to do a bed check and see the discrepancy.
Having tackled these issues face-on, I do feel that I am now better prepared to address what other marriage issues will inevitably arise over the years. Probably involving a crises of monumental proportions over whether to fold or bundle socks, or whether toilet paper should wrap over or under. So yes, go ahead and pass on the sensible advice, but don’t forget to add that “compromise” might involve more than career paths, 401ks or vacation plans. Be on the lookout for the battle of the bread doo-dad, it’s a doozy!