A couple of my regular blog commenters have suggested from time to time that I have an insightful way of looking at life and relationships–with regard to my storytelling. They are very kind. But in stories or in real life, I’m just finding my way as we all are. However due to their compliments, a little hubris on my part caused me to reflect upon what it is about my love relationship that makes it work. So what follows are some general and specific random musings. Take them or leave them as you see fit.
I know that there is a book out there titled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. I have never read this book–though I hope to one day–and its title alludes to a very wise notion about stuff. And I tend to agree with it–in a fractured and perhaps unexpected way regarding relationships.
Romantic stories fill our head with lovers who speak flowery words of love and make grand gestures. But for me and my husband lover, it is the every day living together over 22.5 years of wedded bliss, that took some adjustments–for each of us. It is the small stuff of every day life that you have to get right if the big stuff of your lifetime is to work.
So what follows is a window to my world of how our relationship works–some of the small stuff:
1) Let’s start with “stuff”–his and hers. After living on my own for many years before getting married, I had acquired a household’s worth of stuff–china, linens, furniture, decorations, etc.–many items of handed down heirlooms, including a very large baby grand piano that had belonged to my grandmother. Conversely, my hubby had sparsely lived away at college in a dorm before returning home to live with his Dad before we met and married–so my hubby came into our marriage with his clothes, some cameras, and lots of albums of slide negatives from his nature and architectural photography (see his beautiful photograph of the lower falls at Matthiessen State Park below). We had an unequal distribution of artifacts related to ourselves–talismans, if you will, of who we were and what was important to us.
But over time, that inequality changed as we shared our living space together. His hobbies and interests grew–rail fanning, old items he could repurpose, his photography, etc.–and the portion of our home that his stuff inhabited increased. In our first home together–an apartment–he had one closet, part of a book shelf, and a cabinet here and there. In our second home together–our first home with a yard and a mortgage–he had the fourth bedroom in the lower level designated as his man space, as well as, part of the laundry room and storage area. And in truth, he also took over the one car garage. Ha! Still, he had his stuff in designated areas, and my stuff was in designated areas. Of course, we also had shared stuff acquired since our marriage–like the large grandfather clock that we bought at auction that basically served as a very large paper weight until we sold it to free up the space. Ha!
And now in our third and current home together–a one story ranch home (our real home looks so close to this graphic, it is freaky) that we built that the bank holds the mortgage on–my hubby’s man cave is basically the whole basement, a bookshelf area by his chair, 1.5 closets (the rest of the closets belong to me, snap!), and the two car garage. I have a few things stored in the basement, but I rarely go down there–only when tornados threaten. Ha! So, our stuff and its distribution has equalized quite harmoniously over 22.5 years of living together as husband and wife.
2) Chores–Love mates are room mates. And daily life possesses chores that must be done by the ourselves or you, assuming you don’t have servants. Ha! So early on, we divided up these interior household tasks–my letting my hubby choose the ones he wanted to do. We shared the outdoor tasks–he mowed, I trimmed bushes. Though now he insists on doing all of the outdoor stuff–so I let him. Surprisingly, he chose dusting and vaccuming for his indoor tasks–ostensibly because they are done once a week and he could tell he had improved the situation when he was done. And we share laundry chores–though I tend to do more of that. And we also have an unwritten rule that whomever cooks doesn’t have to do the dishes. But in truth, he has acquiesced on that point–because I detest loading the dishwasher. So he loads the dishwasher–quite expertly these days. Except, he still hasn’t grasped the notion of needing to soak and scrub casserole pans before they are put in the dishwasher. And though he might not vacuum as much as I would like, his dishwasher loading skills make up for it. Snap!
3) Sleeping arrangements–Although some older lady friends I know in my mother’s generation were eager to show me their twin bed bedrooms that they shared with their husbands when I had visited their homes from time to time, I just smiled politely. Nothing is going to pry me out of sharing a bed with my husband–ever. *wink* But apart from the joy of married life in that regard, you have to get used to actually sleeping with each other. Ha! Since my hubby is really tall–6 ft 4 inches of tall–we needed the longer king sized bed. And because I am only 5 ft 3 inches tall, I needed a bed that I didn’t need a step ladder to get into. Seriously. Some of these beds with box springs, mattresses, and mattress pillows make the bed so tall that you have to jump to get in them. Or at least, I did. Ha! And one could risk injury with broken bones if you fell out of bed from such a height during a particularly active loving moment, shall we say? Ha! So we have a nice compromise–regarding the bed dimensions.
And then there are the usual temperature concerns–room temp and bedding linens warmth. My hubby is a toaster oven as I tease him. Having had only one lover, I don’t know if all males are this warm–but he always seems like he is running a fever. Giggles! Yet, he feels that he is cold when we turn the ceiling fan on–because I really feel overheated and need to cool down. No comment, please. Ha! I like the room to be a bit colder so that I can snuggle under the covers with the bed sheet and blanket up to my chin–or snuggle under the covers with my warm hubby.
Finally, a note about bedding linens design–Though I might love elegant flowery designs in bed linens (sheets and comforters), I learned long ago that the most I’m going to get is a pillow sham if I want to keep my husband happy. Unless it is a monochrome quilt or matelasse coverlet with a tone on tone flowery design that can’t be discerned unless you’re up close, my husband just doesn’t like our bedroom and bed to seem overly feminine. I have resisted going the pink plaids route. Ha!
4) Sharing a bathroom–This is where the rubber meets the road on marital cohabiting cohesivness. Bathroom etiquette is one thing, but just how many empty vitamin B plastic bottles does he need to stack next to his bathroom sink before he puts them in the recycle bin? Ha! And since he uses an electric shaver, he periodically clears out his hairs from it–into his sink. Then there is the issue of installing the toilet paper roll–over or under–let alone replacing it at all. The same is true for food items he has eaten the last of but he forgot to tell me about. I am the supplies replenisher in our home. *rolling my eyes* And although he gripes sometimes about him having only 25 percent of the counter space–with me having the other 75 percent–he has come to accept it. Now if I could only get him to __________________ (fill in the blank for your own situation). Ha! But what I really wish we had done differently when we built our home would have involved the design of the bathroom–by not putting in such a long tub for him, and now he only uses the shower. Actually, the notion of his and hers bathrooms are very appealing–with our respective ideal designs below:
5) Some other small stuff, but important–He is so cute to ask me what setting he should put my clothes on when he switches them into the dryer so he can wash his clothes–even as he hangs up my items that can’t go through the dryer. The way he determinedly took the feminine product wrapper with him the first time he bought them for me when I was ill–and now he knows which brand and style to buy without needing the packaging or my reminders. How he kindly fetches me things–as I do for him–but smirks as he says “I live to serve”. Though I might be growing my hair long to later donate 10 inches of it to Locks of Love next year, I am not immune to my husband telling me that my hair is beautiful–nor that he animatedly told his cousins recently that my hair was down the middle of my back. Giggles! Well, it is past my shoulder blades. And, the endearingly sexy way that my husband admires my pretty lacy nightgown, but only as an obstacle to be removed–still, after all these years. And I return the compliment by appreciating that he, like fine wine, gets better with age. Sighhhh!
So there you have it! A non-exhaustive list of how my loving hubby and I have negotiated our lives to date–all of the small stuff. Stay tuned for further developments. Ha!
P.S. And because my husband is the love of my life–the greatest gift I have or will ever receive–here is a lovely sentimental video by Dimitris Tsaganos of Barbra Streisand singing “Evergreen + Lyrics” from the film “A Star is Born”: