Vive le difference. That's French for "we are totally incompatible. How in the world did we last this long together?"
For some reason I spent most of my afternoon nap time today thinking about how different my wife and are from each other. There is an incredibly long list of contrary likes and dislikes that fills the chasm between us. Those differences are plentiful, filling that latent relationship killing chasm to the top, making it possible for us to cross over, sometimes only halfway, but often enough all the way across, where we can then work on overcoming those quirks and idiosyncrasies that might otherwise doom us. That we have worked at overcoming those might-have-been deal breakers, is a testament to the strong love we have for each other. After nearly 47 years of working on our relationship, we have finally reached a consensus. We realize that we will never be compatible, we will never like all the same things, and that we really shouldn't be together at all.
No, don't worry, we are not going to separate. There is no divorce imminent. We have just decided not to try to change ourselves to please the other. And conversely, not to try to change the other to please ourselves. Does that make sense? It took is all this time to come to the conclusion that we are each special in our own way, and that is why we got together in the first place. We have vowed to raise our level of tolerance for the things in our life together that drive us crazy, sometimes even murderous.
We have invested too much in each other over the years to let it all slip away over her inability to load the dishwasher properly.
I will not complain as loudly, or as often, when she interrupts my train of thought when I'm writing or deep into an art project.
I won't scold or berate her for changing the subject of conversation when she doesn't like the sports conversation I might be having with another Packers fan.
I will refrain from pulling my hair out when she reminds me to do something that I am already doing.
I promise to only mutter obscenities in her direction when she asks me a question and then, while I am trying to answer her, she talks over my answer while asking me the same thing again.
I will try to tolerate the silence when we are in the car and she won't let me turn the radio on to listen to some tunes. Since she does most of the driving, she gets to choose whether the radio stays on or off. This is going to be really difficult for me. I gotta have some music when I am in the car, especially when she is driving. Music calms me down when she refuses to drive the way I tell her to.
I have promised not to get all pissed off when she just assumes I will immediately do everything on the todo list she provides even though I may have my own agenda for the day. Her priorities take priority over anything I might want to do. It has always been so, and always will be no matter how much I moan and groan about it. Just because I let her be the boss one time, she thinks that means she can always be the boss.
I so enjoy (that's my first lie today) moving furniture around when she insists that I vacuum under the furniture instead of just going around it. If you can't see the dust bunnies (of course there has never been a dust bunny in HER house) then there must not be one under there. Why test fate? Life is difficult enough without getting all hot and bothered over a little bit of dirt.
I will not even try to defend myself when she again accuses me of being crude and insensitive when I make comments and jokes about people who are different than me. Bigotry is ugly and she knows I'm kidding. Really.
I will try not to cringe noticeably when she asks me the same question three or four times. Sometimes I'm just not paying attention, and sometimes I don't understand the question. Especially questions about money. She can ask me questions about our finances all she wants and I still won't get it. The money handling is her job, always has been and always will be. Nobody told me there would be math involved when we got married. As long as I get my weekly allowance to squander anyway I damn well please, I will try my best to fake it when money is the subject at hand.
And I will not let it irritate me when she wants to talk about insurance. I know, everyone gets irritated when talking about insurance. It doesn't matter if it is health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, house insurance, or any other type of insurance. This will be a tough one, because she feels the need to talk about insurance all the time. I think it has something to do with all the medical bills that piled up last year when she got so sick and worried that our health insurance wouldn't cover everything. She still thinks they (the insurance companies) will find some way to make her pay. She worries about that a lot. So I will keep my irritation to myself and let her know that I appreciate her worries and will do my best to reassure her that the big bad insurance moguls will not get to her. They will have to go through me first.
Instead of whining about the temperature in the house when the AC is on in the summer heat, I will simply, without a frozen word of complaint getting past my chattering teeth, put on an extra layer or two so I won't freeze to death. Either I have a faulty inner thermostat, or none at all, or she really is the Ice Maiden incarnate. I have always thought that a temperature in the low 70's was considered comfortable for most people. I just can't understand why she insists on keeping the house temps in the meat locker range. I admit that I do get chilled easily, but I think any normal person would agree that keeping the thermostat on the wall set to keep the house in the low 60's is taking the old hot flash excuse too far. So despite the icicles hanging from my nose, my frozen breath creating clouds of frozen vapor, and my hands so numb from that cold that even an Eskimo would complain, I have vowed to never again sneak up behind her and place my frozen palms against her neck to shock her into believing that I REALLY AM COLD! Actually that would be a waste of time since the one time I tried that gambit, she thanked me or being so considerate by helping her to cool off. I may just have to go back to whining like a little girl, which should at least sound like a little girl since my nuts will have frozen off and dropped somewhere never to be found again.
Conversely, when winter settles in and the furnace kicks on to warm our humble abode, that damn thermostat always seems to find its place in the lower level of tolerable. So I then have to cope with the cold again while she complains about being overheated. But this time I have it all figured out. I will simply leave all the same clothes on that I wore when it was supposed to be summer both inside and out. My clothing will consist of the same two sweatshirts, the same pair of longjohns, the same jeans, the same hoodies, the same thermal socks, the same caps and knit hats, and the same gloves I wear inside and out. A great side effect of my shivering despite the season is the cheap wardrobe I will need to combat the hot and cold conditions without sneaking over to the thermostat, surreptitiously lowering or raising the setting to my comfort level. But she always senses when I do that, or she has hidden cameras that monitor my every move, and quickly restores the status quo before I can get any relief.
She is admittedly not an avid sports fan. But she tries to be interested when I am watching a ballgame of one sort or another. However, her interest becomes highly annoying when she asks what the score is when it is posted on the TV screen, whether the Packers have scored a run yet, or if the Brewers got a touchdown, and why doesn't the kicker score a point when at the kickoff, he kicks the ball into the other team's end zone. And why oh why must baseball players spit so much. That is just disgusting and what are their mothers thinking. Why is a field goal worth only three points when it seems much more difficult than just throwing the ball into the end zone or having some big fat guy run it in for a touchdown, which, by the way is worth 6 points, not 7. The team scoring the touchdown then gets to kick the extra point or maybe try for a two point conversion if the game strategy warrants the risk. By this time my attempts to educate her on the basics of whatever game I am watching has fallen on deaf uninterested ears. She gets bored with sports easily and doesn't really listen or learn. You would think that having been a high school English teacher for 38 years she would understand the students being bored with the lesson at hand and try to learn the nuances of the sports that dominate the TV and consequently me.
My promise from here on out is to ignore her when she asks her dopey questions, pretending not to hear her. But it is going to be very difficult to ignore questions like "when he hits the ball, does he score one point, and if he goes all the way to that middle base why doesn't he get two points? " If I acknowledge such a ridiculous question, it will only encourage her to ask more dopey questions, like "what position does Aaron Rogers play?" Or this little bit of stupidity, "when the guy carries the ball all the way to the goal, does he score a field goal or a home run?" (Actually, there is some logic applied there.) Her questions about sports have been a huge irritant to me. I have, on some occasions, threatened her with dismemberment starting at the top and working my way downward until the questions stop or she runs out of body parts. Such threats mean nothing to her, so my only recourse is to ignore her. I'm good at that, having had lots of practice over the last 47 seasons. If I don't acknowledge them I won't get irritated by them and I won't snap and snarl at her for being so ignorant and annoying, we won't then have a fight and our marriage will survive another day.
Have you noticed that all the changing, or at least all the trying to change, comes from my side of the chasm? She is perfect so there is no need for her to change. At least that's what she says. That must be right. How would we have made it together for the last 47 years if one of us wasn't perfect to begin with? Think we can make it for another 47? As long as I keep trying to improve my behavior we should be ok. At least that's what she says.