Couples frequently have arguments that heat up, explode in a bout of yelling, recriminations, sobbing and eventual reconciliations. There is also the 'silent treatment' approach of ignoring each other which is even more hellish and can go on for days.
A third type of argument is very rarely talked about publicly or privately. It is the non-verbal, non-acknowledged disagreement that has the potential to continue for the rest of your lives together. It is one that a) doesn't seem important enough to bother raising with your partner; and b) you'd feel petty if you did raise it and annoyed that you got sick of the issue before your other half did.
In our house, it's the kitchen sponge. I like to rinse it, wring it and leave it on the edge of the sink to dry. Doesn't seem too offensive, does it? Well, it does to dear old Love Chunks. Each time he's in the kitchen tidying up, he likes to throw the sponge into the cupboard under the sink, leaving it there to remain damp, promote mould and get increasingly smelly. We have never discussed this, or raised an eyebrow at each other's choices. Instead we just both do it our way when we're next in the kitchen using the sponge.
As demonstrated, it’s important to note that a key element of these silent arguments is that they're not the common ones. They're not the age old and common cliches of the toilet seat being left up, the invisibility of the obviously overflowing rubbish bin or the inability to put clothes in the laundry basket instead of on the floor. No, they're much more subtle and can include such key domestic choices as:
- Whether the toilet paper should roll on the outside (for easier access), or roll on the wall side (sucking up germs and having grotty little finger print marks on the wall);
- Selecting 1% fat milk versus 2% + extra calcium (the absolutely lowest fat one of course – this shouldn’t even have to be debated);
- Having eight pillows on the bed for instead of the two you actually use for sleeping (looks are everything in the bedroom during the day because you never know who’s going to visit you and happen to glance into the open bedroom door on their way to the kitchen. Looks only stop mattering when the pillows are flung to the floor when the light goes out. This goes for other activities too…..) ;
- Who heard the child's cry in the night first and who's pretending to be asleep (me for both of them, sadly);
- Smooth versus crunchy peanut butter (crunchy but I’m outvoted by LC and the little one who – confound it – has the taste buds as her father);
- The use and cleaning of the very posh copper-bottomed saucepan set (who cares if I scrub them with a scourer – are they going to fall apart in my hands? Did I hear correctly – did you just refer to them as your ‘Beloveds’ ?);
- Talking during televised football games – is it permitted when Adelaide Crows aren’t playing (yes), but a monastic silence must be adhered to during Crows’ time ("Shoosh!"shouldn’t be classified as an answer to my question of “Would you like a hot drink?”)
- Generic brand cheese versus expensive cheese that taste exactly the same (it’s only part of a sandwich, so who cares?); and
- Kissing the dog (she’s family for goodness sake. What am I, made of stone?)
Another non-acknowledged contradiction in the Plugger house includes clothes. If they’re still clean enough to wear on another day, I’ll fold mine neatly and place them on top of the cane hamper in our bedroom. Love Chunks on the other hand likes to scrunch his up into a ball and fling them in that general direction, hoping that, akin to homing pigeons, his garments will know where to find their true space. Which, ironically is the direct opposite of our toilet-paper-using profiles, but that’s another blog entirely…..
LC also tends to have at least three pairs of jocks on the go which is a source of amusement and bemusement for me. There appears to be a pair for night time, a second pair available for when he’s been for a run after work and had a shower and therefore hasn’t got his full twenty four hours’ worth out of them; and a third kind of blokey ‘spare’ that lives amongst my folded still-got-use-left-in-them garments. Why, I don’t know, but I’m sticking to the unspoken rules of this third type of relationship disagreement which is that I’m not ever going to mention it. You see whilst it might be mildly irritating, it’s not earth shattering. Let’s face it: LC hasn’t slept with the local netball team or gambled away our entire life’s savings, so it’s not worth getting my knickers (I seem to be able to cope with only needing the pair I have on each day) in a twist about.
To be fair though, I have quite a few weird habits that LC, to his credit, may raise an eyebrow over, but never bothered to address me directly about:
- My siege mentality shopping mode – if there’s only one tin of tomatoes left in the pantry, I must immediately buy three – what if we run out;
- If in doubt, always buy a tube of toothpaste – we have seven in our bathroom drawer;
- Chocolate is not just for breakfast anymore. It goes perfectly well with iced coffee for morning tea; a natural follow-on for lunchtime’s vegemite roll and is perfection with a glass of bailey’s at 9pm;
- The importance of ordering a diet coke when eating a quarter pounder and large fries; and
- Having clean sheets and towels every Saturday, regardless of social calendar, weather or visiting migraines. If I was as rich as Bill Gates, I’d have clean ones on every day – they just feel so gooood!
My worst habit that he quite stoically never remarks upon is my bizarre need to always count out items (floor tiles, wine bottles, flowers) to make sure they’re a division of three. No, I’m not quite an autistic savant ala Rain Man, but I’m pretty darn close. I certainly like wearing high-waisted trousers…..