A few nights ago, my boyfriend wanted to get ice cream. I’ve learned when this happens I need to brace myself. He likes to really get into it, and apparently feels if he smacks his lips together when he eats this frozen treat, it tastes better.
It makes me want to freak the fuck out, to be honest.
He can fall asleep in two seconds, even if we aren’t on the best of terms and I’m still reeling with emotions. Once, he started snoring on the sofa when I wasn’t done with our argument and I “accidentally” shoved a chair into the island on my way to the kitchen because I wasn’t done talking with him.
He likes to talk about working out and eating healthier but doesn’t follow through with the same enthusiasm he has while watching a Peloton commercial.
He has no problem backing out of commitments when he’s changed his mind without feeling like he has to follow through no matter what, or explain his reasons for canceling.
He snores. He refuses to blow his nose, but likes to snarf and swallow instead.
He’s very particular about the food he eats, yet could eat chicken tenders and subs for the rest of his life. If it’s too fancy, or he’s never tried something I suggest, there’s no way I can convince him he might just like it.
He can act like nothing is wrong if we’ve had a fight. I can’t tell you how many times he’s walked in my door or called me while I’m still seething with anger and said, “Hi honey! How’s your day going? I miss you!”
He loves paying for dinner and opening the car door for me, but when it comes to doing the heavy lifting around the house — the shoveling, changing light bulbs, and the like — he has no problem relaxing while I run around with a sense of urgency about everything. I feel like if I don’t get to it, ten other things will happen. He feels most things can wait.
It sounds a lot like I’m complaining, but I’m not. (Okay, maybe I’m complaining about the lip-smacking.) However, I have learned something about myself and relationships since falling in love with him: The things that used to drive me up a damn wall about my ex-husband of almost two decades and make me want to leave him are showing up again in this relationship.
Why? Because they are my issues, my annoyances, and things that I haven’t dealt with. It took me some time to realize that just because I think I always have to stick to my word even if I’m hanging on by a thread, it doesn’t mean my partner has to do the same. He doesn’t.
It’s made me see that I am a person who thinks everything is urgent. This is stressful for my whole family, who might want to take a breather when they get home before taking out the trash or emptying the dishes.
You don’t need to be crucified if you forget something. I’m a single mother and the only adult in the house now. But even when I was married, I took on the role of thinking I had to remember all the things … instead of realizing that if something gets forgotten, we all will survive.
I’ve never had a partner complain about how I make a certain noise after every sip of soda, obsessively wash down the counters, or use the blender three times a day.
They’ve never been annoyed that I wake up early to exercise to Taylor Swift, or asked me to chew or breathe differently.
But I’ve done that to them because I’m wound so damn tight, certain things make me feel like I want to bang my head on the toilet bowl.
This discovery isn’t really a discovery; I’ve heard all about how when we are hard on ourselves, we are hard on other people. But after my divorce, and falling in love and introducing my kids to this man, I really wanted to make sure I didn’t make the same mistakes twice. That meant taking a hard look at myself and realizing I had much improving to do.
Ironically, the person who taught me that was my ex-husband. While I was dropping off the kids at his house one day, he stopped by my car window on his way inside with bags of groceries. He and his girlfriend were going to make sushi and he’d gone to get the ingredients.
I couldn’t help myself — I had to mention that when we were married he never cooked, and he always put up a fight when I asked him to go to the store.
“I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made with you,” was his response. I knew he meant that went further than just getting food and cooking together.
We both let a lot of things get to us when we were married. We can’t go back and have a replay, but we can move forward and try not to make the same mistakes with our new partners that we made with each other.
Our partners will inevitably do things that bother us, but sometimes we have to take a hard look at ourselves and realize that when the same issues keep coming up, relationship after relationship, it’s our responsibility to look at why and put in some work too.
But as far as I’m concerned, telling someone to shut their face when they are chewing will always be allowed.
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