Marriage between humans is heavy-duty stuff. We jump into it thinking we might know things, only to learn early on that we were ignorant beyond belief — and then the OTJ training either makes or breaks us.
This isn’t my maiden voyage — I was married for thirty-four years the first time, at least half of them happy. Steepest learning curve was WHAT NOT TO DO and it did almost break us. So second time feels a lot like this:
It’s about the really important things.
Which is why I tried to take Benjamin Franklin’s advice from day one: “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward.”
And why it took me eleven years to catch on that Kimmers is OCD, not just “picky about certain things.” I thought it was his upbringing and his white-glove education in the Navy showing up. Or as our friend Seth says, he was potty-trained at gunpoint.
Seems instead to be the real thing and he got the memo the same day I did, not that I helped him out with hints and/or pantomime. Fortunately, his version of the disorder presents not as repetitive behaviors like hand-washing and obsessive counting, but as vigilance against dust and … um … disorder. We live in a loft with 14ft. ceilings, exposed ductwork, concrete, steel, glass, wood and tile. It’s cozy, but there’s always something needing attention. Enter Mr. Clean, who works his magic on at least one area every day, never letting it get ahead of him. It’s excellent that we downsized to half the space we used to have.
He also, as you may know, handles all the grocery shopping, cooking and clean-up, and keeps his kitchen in shiny order. So when he grabs a glass I just set down and rinses it in the sink even though I’d planned to refill it; or stashes something in a place I’d never think to look for it; or gets a little frantic about having a dirty windshield — it’s a no-brainer that I CAN’T LET IT MATTER, although I confess we were reaching Exasperation Level before the light came on.
My husband’s attention to detail and willingness to speak up has saved me countless times, and he’s helped other people who’ll never know that, because he did it by planning ahead, anticipating, juggling, understanding in advance where things were going. If you’ve been on the receiving end of his thorough help and wanted to smack him before it was over, you can be sure it was because of how much he cares about you, loves you even. It matters to him what our immediate environment feels like, and I matter to him most of all (he’s told me) and there’s a lot I need a surrogate for, so this “disorder” thing turns out to be fabulous for me.
If you’re curious about what it is *I* do here, that would be the laundry, bills and banking, a little writing, social media, and Maddie … also, I color pretty pictures in my free time, which is defined according to mood. And I do what I can to help Kim preserve a semblance of order along with a large helping of peace and quiet. Works for me, too — so sometimes it’s fine to be selfish.
I agree with the divine Babs …
“Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain that he’s not the man she married?”