Sometimes I read these posts floating around the internet that purport to tell you how to make your relationship better: “Tips and Tricks for a Stronger Relationship,” “Learn How to Avoid Arguments With Your Spouse,” “The Top 5 Things You Shouldn’t Be Fighting With Your Spouse Over,” “True Love Doesn’t Bicker and Nag,” “Learn How to Fight Fair,” etc. And I have to wonder, who writes this shit? Are they actually married to a real person, or one of those fictional characters out of a sappy romance novel?
In a perfect world, of course we wouldn’t fight about money. We would have discussed it earlier in our relationship, made out a 25-page family budget plan that would make Congress piss their collective pants, have a 10-year savings nest egg already started, and would respect each other enough not to bitch over somebody, I’m not calling any names here, but somebody paying $100 for some super-special screwdriver drill thingie. Or for Italian leather boots. But I digress…
It’s not a perfect world. And in our imperfect world, real couples bicker and fight over far less important things than what the “experts” would have us believe are healthy and normal.
The most common things people fight about with their partners? Only the most important shit ever, beginning, absolutely, with:
1. The Fucking Thermostat
One-half of the couple likes the ambient temperature of the house to be around 72ish, while the other half likes it to be about -30 below. Totally normal. And totally worth a catfight now and then. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
2. Condiment Mixing
You do not use the mustard knife to spread mayo from the communal jar. Because now there’s mustard in there. There’s mustard in the mayo jar. Mustard does not belong in the mayo jar. This isn’t rocket science. What if the next person doesn’t want mustard mixed in with their mayo? So rude. Likewise, you must use a separate utensil for the peanut butter and jelly. Do not get jelly in the peanut butter jar, nor peanut butter in the jelly jar. This is not complicated, people. I will cut you.
3. Dirty Laundry on the Floor — Right Next to the Hamper
Do you see that wicker box about 3 1/2-feet tall, right there next to the wall? It’s kind of tan, has a hinged lid… It looks a little bit like a receptacle of some kind. I know it may not have occurred to you to wonder what that contraption is or what it’s for, but we use that to collect the dirty clothes so that they aren’t strewn across the floor. And yet the dirty socks and wet towels are magically still strewn about the floor, right next to the hamper. (Cue an eye twitch.)
4. Washing the Dishes
I have come to understand that the dishes are a chore more hated than pretty much any other household thing in the history of people living together. And it should be sooo simple, right? You cook, I clean. I cook, you clean. And yet it never works out that way. And don’t even get me started on the all the travel mugs and Tupperware hoarded in the car or the bowls piled up on the headboard. Seriously, what are you doing, eating cereal in your sleep?
There is a simple solution for this one though. Buy a dishwasher, and then teach your kids how to use it. Until then, paper plates and Solo cups should work just fine. You can even buy them now with pretty patterns for when you want to feel fancy. I am almost to the point where I want to buy everyone in the house their own dish set — one glass, one bowl, one plate, one set of silverware — and mark it with their names on it, and no one is allowed to touch anyone else’s dishes, and everyone has to wash their own. I feel like that could work. Except for the cooking pots and pans, which puts us back at square one. Sigh.
5. Making Plans
Inevitably, someone makes plans without checking the family schedule. You know, the family schedule posted in the kitchen on that artfully crafted, Pinterest-inspired work of genius that took three weeks to make and was promptly forgotten about after the second week? Yeah, that one. Oh, and whose job is it to get a sitter when one party makes plans without letting the other one know anything about it until a half-hour before we’re suppose to be there? Ohhh. Yeah.
6. Working Late
Follow my logic here, if you will: If my boss says I have to work late, then I have to work late. #theend. It is very rarely a choice. Yes, I miss you too. But I like my job, and I’d kinda like to keep it. Plus, the overtime will be nice to have this payday. Perhaps you could use these extra hours I’m away to look into that dirty-sock-on-the-floor situation. Or I don’t know, play with the kids or go ahead and start supper or something. You can do it without me for a few more hours. I have faith in you.
Holidays are a pain in the ass — from travel arrangements, to the added expenses, to the strain on everyone’s emotions and stress levels, to gift-buying — especially when one person is elected (by a majority vote of 1) to buy and wrap all the gifts, and then has to answer every one of the next 7,000 questions about what “we” bought and how much “we” spent.
8. Lost Keys
Imagine if you can, this gorgeous little block of polished wood mounted on the wall next to the front door, with several little hooks on it, engraved with the letters K-E-Y-S. Now close your eyes and imagine a world where all the happy little keys were returned there after use. Can you picture it? Can you see it? Neither can I.
9. Apologizing When You Don’t Mean It
I believe that you’re sorry you forgot and accidentally flushed the toilet while I was showering like you believe I’m sorry for thinking you didn’t need your old bowling bag anymore and setting it out at the yard sale. And P.S., if you can’t even say it without giggling, you are fooling no one. Jeez. Let’s be honest here: Neither one of us is sorry we did it; we’re just sorry the other got mad about it. Insincere apologies might be polite, but they diminish the importance of real ones. If you’re really sorry about a thing, you stop doing that thing. So don’t say you are when you aren’t.
10. How Many Times We’ve Had This Fight Already Before
See number 9. We shouldn’t have to keep fighting about the exact same issues all of the time, so why does this happen? One or both of us needs to learn to communicate better and have some introspection about why we continue these behaviors that drive our partner bananas. Shit gets old and no one likes a nag, but there should be somewhere to meet in the middle for the sake of peace. I don’t want to still be fighting about the goddam thermostat when we’re 80.