Over the weekend, Mr. W and I took the kids to church. We usually park over on the side of the lot, but this time he decided to do something different and park closer. I thought that was a great idea until we pulled through the graveled area and I took note of the large mud puddle that seemed to have no end. I mentioned it in a side comment as he pulled into his spot, but left it alone as he turned off the car. After all, as Mr. W pointed out, if we just stepped carefully we could make it through without too much mess. And so I tiptoed carefully through the mud, only to have my son step down hard and splatter mud all over his just washed pants. And when Mr. W went to check his own shoes for mud, he lifted up his foot just as my daughter walked into it – getting mud all over her clean pants. And I felt like we were cavemen as we walked into the clean building with my muddy children. To make matters worse, a trail of dark footprints followed us into the building all the way to the seats that we chose.
I wanted to die.
Several weeks ago, Mr. W and I had the opportunity to live together for a week while my kids were visiting their father over the holiday vacation. It was a pleasant prelude to when we will actually move in together this summer. But without kids, it was also an opportunity to focus on each other. It was wonderful. We got to cook the foods we wanted. The TV was amiss of loud, obnoxious kid shows. There were no fighting siblings or arguments over bedtimes. And I believe we got to bed early every single night. We also discovered several other….things. I like to leave coffee cups in every single room, half full, for days at a time if no one mentions anything. He likes to hog all the covers so that I am left shivering at night, and sometimes even likes to sleep his 6 foot body diagonally – leaving a tiny triangle of room for me. I need to have the bed made JUST SO, ensuring that every sheet and blanket is wrinkle free, tucked in at the bottom with hospital corners on the sides, and completely even from right to left and at the top. He prefers all the dishes washed immediately after they are used while I am fine leaving them to do in the evening, and sometimes ok with just washing them the next morning. He gets a bit claustrophobic if the bedroom is too hot while I need it to be pretty warm to be able to fall asleep at night. He can’t sit still for more than 30 minutes at a time, but I could lay on the couch with a remote in my hand all day long, and be perfectly content.
And, of course, we got to practice embracing our differences, and being cognizant of the other’s comfort level by changing those things that we had control over. He didn’t mention when I left my half-filled coffee cup on the bathroom sink for 24 hours. But as soon as I realized it, I put it in the sink and washed it. He helped me make the bed every morning so that it was exactly how I liked it (or was just amused when I tried to downplay my neurotic tendencies when making it by myself). He gave me the go-ahead to yank the covers back when he stole them from me at night, or kick him over to his own side of the bed when he took too much liberty with space. We got into the usual routine of taking turns cleaning and cooking, or even just doing both side by side because it was more fun that way. And we laughed about each other’s pet peeves, noting that both of us had our anal tendencies, and in a way, it was kind of cute.
Except for when it isn’t.
Dirty dishes are easily remedied. Same with a specifically made bed or a stray coffee cup. But what about the things that aren’t easily managed – like parking in a muddy lot, or feeling irritated for hours after it happened instead of just being firm about it in the first place? Or what if it’s something like repeating the same story over and over, telling a joke and messing up the punchline, wearing the same favored shirt over and over, or even just making the same thing for breakfast every single morning? What if the person you love has characteristics that are just a part of who they are, but after time, grate on your nerves?
In my previous marriage, there were some things that made me literally cringe when he walked in the room. He would sing in the morning. Sing. I’m not talking a little bit of singing, I’m talking all out operatic, booming voice singing. It was once cute. I mean, he was happy in the morning, right? But over time, I would actually let him sleep in as late as possible to avoid an early morning concerto. But eventually he would wake up, announcing his presence in a full-blown aria of morning song. And then I would get irritated and tell him to stop singing. I was the nagging wife telling her husband not to sing in the morning. Why? Because it bugged me. And when he’d act goofy, I was the killjoy in that too. Stop acting goofy. Why? Because you’re embarrassing me. And I would try so hard not to be a nag, but it was just so hard because, let’s face it, my ex was obnoxious.
Once the honeymoon phase ends, the things that once seemed so precious tend to make you cringe. Mr. W, though perfectly wonderful, has some tendencies that get on my nerves. And while I’m pretty close to perfection (note: sarcasm), I know I make him cringe from time to time as well. I admit, sometimes it worries me – especially since our big move is coming up in less than 6 months. Will we be able to handle those cringe-worthy moments, embracing them as just a part of who the other is, and taking the “bad” with the good?
Are there things about your husband or wife that grate on your nerves? How do you cope without nagging the hell out of them?