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Meant To Be?!


Here’s my confession. Sometimes I worry that Michael and I don’t have enough in common. We both feel quite secure in our marriage, but it’s still a source of insecurity for me. I see all these couples with their shared passions and I wonder if something isn’t missing from our relationship. (I remember one time we got into a huge fight over dinner at a Thai restaurant because I couldn’t get him to identify as a feminist and my efforts to encourage him otherwise were unsuccessful. Sidebar: we’re still working on this. As a result, I spent the car ride home bawling at him that we were too different and obviously doomed for failure. Err… sometimes I’m a little dramatic.) Which is why I love this post from longtime reader Lisa (who you may know better as Giggles a.k.a. the sunflower avatar in the comments). Because sometimes I need to be reminded of what partnership really is. It’s not having everything in common, but respecting each other enough to see our differences as valid options, and caring for each other enough to be willing to meet halfway when we can. It’s saying: I see you, I hear you, and I value what you need, even if I don’t agree.

Maddie

Meant To Be?! | A Practical Wedding

Perhaps we just aren’t meant to be together.

I mean, right off the bat we couldn’t agree on what the purpose of a bathmat is. I think it’s there to keep my feet warm when I get out of the shower. I think the purpose of most things is to keep me warm actually. Yet he thinks the whole purpose of the bathmat is to keep the floor from being wet. Which results in a really wet bathmat. Do you know how cold a sopping wet bathmat can be? Cold. Really cold. Which defeats the whole purpose of the bathmat if you ask me.

And then we have books. Yes, we both love to read. There are full bookcases in just about every room of our house, with more boxes of books we don’t have room for. But we can’t agree on just how to read a book. I think you are supposed to read a book, finish it, and move on to the next one. I’ll read several thousand pages a year. He might read a book or two. Just read the darn book already!

Not to mention socks. When I fold the socks they look like a hoagie bun. He ties his socks in a knot. Literally. How can we be expected to get along when we can’t even agree on how to fold socks?!

There’s the fact that when I clean a mirror I use up-and-down strokes and he uses side-to-side strokes. When I crack a raw egg I bang it on the side of the bowl and he hits it with a fork. When I crack a hard-boiled egg I wrap it in a napkin and roll it between my hand and the counter while he hits it on the counter and then peels the shell off piece by piece. I floss before I brush. He flosses after. I’m a night owl. He’s an early bird. I stretch after I run. He stretches before. I like a computer desktop free of icons. His computer desktop has icons across half the screen. When he watches TV that’s the only thing he’s doing. When I turn the TV on I can be up doing the dishes, or in the other room trading out the laundry, or even in the kitchen fixing myself a snack, and still follow the plot of the show. He likes bar soap at the sink, and I like soft soap.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with how incredibly different we are! How could we possibly be soul mates when we are so fundamentally different?

Yet we’re perfect for each other. Because he’ll dry his feet as he steps out of the shower now so the bathmat stays dry for me. And we each fold our own socks. Of all our differences, neither of us is doing any of them wrong, we’re just doing them differently.

The bulk of the little things just aren’t big enough for us to make an issue out of. Plus, they keep things interesting. The perfect person for us isn’t perfectly like us. How boring/annoying would it be if we mirrored each other all day long?

We agree to love and respect each other, including, and especially, our differences. That’s really one of the most important things we need to agree on.

That’s what makes us meant to be together.

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  • Rowany

    Love this. I think these little differences loom large at the precipices of each transitional stage in the relationship–are we exclusive? should we get engaged? should we get married? Once we were over a hurdle they shrunk back to adorable quirks again. The thing that has really helped was interacting with more couples. I remember being single and thinking it was sad that so many couples hang out with only other couples, but truthfully those interactions have salvaged so many of our fights. To hear other people say they had the same argument 3 years ago and see that they’re still going strong is so reassuring.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Haha. We also fold our socks differently. We share sock-folding duties, but use the method the wearer prefers. We also have liquid soap for me and bar soap for him in the bathroom.

    Such things were where seriously dating other people before I met my husband was helpful. I learned, without the super-seriousness and forever-ness of marriage, that it was OK if he needed all the dishes washed before bed, and I was OK leaving them in the sink overnight, etc.

    Recognizing that “you’re both right,” as today’s other post explains, can be really hard and takes a lot of emotional maturity, though.

    • mimi

      We also fold our socks differently (his are balled and mine are skinny sausages) and also fold our shirts differently. If I’m doing the laundry, I fold his as he prefers. He hasn’t washed much of my laundry (my choice), but I’ll have to try that and see what he does.

  • Violet

    I love this, but I’d also be really interested to hear more about Maddie’s story from the intro paragraph. How did you and Michael deal with the feminist identity issue? I love my partner, but we don’t always see eye to eye on some of those bigger issues. Of course we respect each other’s viewpoints and have rational discussions, but I sometimes wonder how different is too different when it comes to things like that.

    • http://snippetsof.blogspot.com SarahE

      I second that. Especially since I would guess (given what Maddie shares of her personality and her relationship) that Michael treats her as an equal human being.. . .which seems like a feminist thing to do. Is it the word or the connotations or something? I can totally understand not wanting to be called a certain label, no matter how much you agree with the principles it implies.

    • Maddie

      The conversation is currently being tabled, is how we’re dealing with it. :) The funny thing is, what SarahE said below is totally spot on. This conversation has zero impact on our daily lives, and Michael is, for all intents and purposes, a feminist. So the only time this negatively impacts our argument is when I ask him to assign a label to himself. Which I have to ask myself…is that a good allocation of our relationship resources?

      And the truth is…I’m not sure. If I were a practicing Catholic married to an Atheist, would it matter more to have my husband call himself a Catholic or would it be enough to have him go to church with me every Sunday? I think the answer is different for everybody. For me, I’ll take actions over words. But I know that’s not the case for everyone.

      • http://snippetsof.blogspot.com SarahE

        I agree, how someone behaves means more to me than what they call themselves.

      • Julia

        Yes, I want to hear/talk about this too… another post? I agree the content of this one was good, but it was more about negotiating shared space than the bigger stuff, like what Maddie raised.

        I think the only reason my husband and I haven’t gotten into a big argument about him not self-identifying as feminist is that we instead have smaller squabbles where we both march out our tried & true tropes about gender equity and its current state in society.

        And yes, actions are more important to me, too. So that’s another reason. But it is still something I have thought about a *lot,* whether this person explicitly shares my ideals enough. Especially as we move toward having children. I feel like I have a lot to say about this but it’s hard to organize my thoughts at 5 pm when I still have more work to do. So I encourage another post from Maddie on this & the process she is going through!

      • marbella

        I commented on this at the bottom too but just read your response here and laughed again at the irony I didn’t see. Husb is a ‘practicing’ feminist but refuses to identify as one. On the other hand I am not Catholic but attend mass with him every weekend.

        • Maddie

          Love. It.

      • Claire

        “Which I have to ask myself…is that a good allocation of our relationship resources?”

        Oooh, that’s a good check-in question. I could probably benefit from asking myself that a little more frequently.

        • Kelly

          “Exactly” wasn’t enough for this. I love that check-in question. I often start a discussion which turns into a fight, about things that are not worth the allocation of relationship resources.

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        Yes, actions over words…. Words are so important to me as a person (as someone who edits and writes as some of my work), but thanks for the reminder, Maddie, that actions are even more important to me. And both of your exact examples regarding feminism and church are relevant in our relationship…

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      I wonder if it might not have something to do with how each person defines feminism. If a man understands feminism to be men-hating bra-burners then he’s not going to want to identify as one (and probably have concerns about marrying one).

      It’s entirely possible for two people to have a conversation about the same term but be talking about completely different things.

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        Yep, that’s us. My husband thinks a new word would be better to convey the idea of feminism because of all the associations with that word. He doesn’t feel like it can be “reclaimed” to be bigger than the man-hating associations of feminism….

      • Jen

        I had this exact revelation recently…but at work, with my boss, not in my relationship. it turns out that we were using completely different definitions of the same labels, and we were both feeling like things weren’t getting accomplished or going the way we thought they would/should…turns out all it took was clarifying what we meant!

      • spinning

        I think it’s important that a person (read: your husband. Also everyone.) learn about history and social justice. feminism isn’t bra burning (which is mostly a myth anyway, it either didn’t ever happen or happened once), it’s a movement that was very very necessary, and in many ways still is, especially in some places. At one point in the US, feminism overlapped rather heavily with abolitionism, and there was support for each cause flowing in both directions and some fights as well. It’s important to learn that feminism historically means fighting for the right to divorce, for the right to be protected when beaten or raped, the right to basic human dignities.

        Ok, end rant.

        The truth is, I understand why feminism, especially 2nd wave feminism, is off-putting. It’s so militaristic sounding, especially to people who never saw the real evils it was fighting against. Why not ask your husband if he identifies with equality? Are all people equal? that’s really what feminism is all about.

  • sarahmrose

    THE BATHMAT! I laughed out loud when I started reading this because we have the exact same dilemma.

    I love the message of this post, it rings so true for our relationship too. When I first met him, I didn’t necessarily expect that life partners should agree on everything, but I expected we should share values on “the important things” — how else would you appreciate and understand another person?

    Imagine my horror when my bookworm self went to his apartment for the first time and realized HE DOES NOT READ FICTION. AT ALL. At that moment I was already foreseeing doom for our relationship.

    Luckily, I stuck around long enough to realize that what I thought were “the important things”…weren’t necessarily the important things after all.

    I think you got at the only thing that is really essential: “We agree to love and respect each other, including, and especially, our differences.”

    That, and you have to have fun together — despite or because of those differences. For example, the book snob in me has learned that I can still have endlessly interesting conversations with a certain someone who has zero interest in literature!

    • Kiki D

      That bathmat paragraph nearly killed me, I was laughing so hard! (All in recognition.)

      • Rebecca

        Agreed! We had a discussion just yesterday about this exact thing, ha. I am also chronically freezing which continues to puzzle my furnace of a man who gets cold maybe once a year.

        • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

          Use it to your benefit! Sleeping with lots of blankets when it’s cold is great, it’s the getting up when it’s still cold that isn’t fun. He doesn’t mind it though, so he gets up and turns on the heater for me so it’s warm when I get up.

    • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

      I think the things that I thought were important when I was 16 were all wrong, in this way. What I know now is – we have to agree on what kind of partnership and relationship to have, we have to love the crap out of each other, and we have to laugh. And there were nuggets of truth in my priorities when marriage was just a fantasy, but holding too tightly to the details of those is just a trick of the mind – something to hang fear onto. So, I agree, exactly, that the important things turn out to be different than you might think.

    • Ashley

      That WOULD be really horrifying! I’m so glad I didn’t have that problem. That said, I did have to learn that it’s okay if he reads fiction but knows nothing about “literature,” and I might even enjoy (and be willing to name our kids after characters in!) fantasy novels, too.

    • Ashley

      That WOULD be really horrifying! I’m so glad I didn’t have that problem. That said, I did have to learn that it’s okay if he reads fiction but knows nothing about “literature,” and I might even enjoy (and be willing to name our kids after characters in!) fantasy novels, too.

      In general, this is one of the cutest things I’ve ever read on APW and I love it.

  • KC

    For those small-scale human-environment disagreements, not getting defensive has seemed to be the most important facet for us. Second-most important is explaining why a particular detail matters to us and taking seriously what the other person says on that, since it helps in that process of re-framing the argument… er… discussion… from “the best way to do this is X! And my self-esteem is threatened by any argument!” into “Spouse A likes it when this is done Y way because (usually perfectly valid reason, which is sometimes just “it makes me more comfortable”)”, which can often turn small compliance actions that might otherwise be annoying to do into tiny romantic gestures (like the lovely drying-feet-off-before-stepping-on-bath-mat example above!). Tiny romantic gestures: way more fun all around than nagged-into-it grumpy-compliance.

    Although, I did check that my spouse agreed on the Correct Way To Hang Toilet Paper before we got married. :-)

    • Courtney

      Ha! I still (almost 8 years later) change the toilet paper orientation. He’s an under, I’m an over.

      • H

        Cats have ruined this debate. It is now carefully rolled up and put on top of the toilet in a basket.

        ETA: Also, does anybody else have an ongoing debate of whether to fold the bathmat in half or not? I say no. He says yes, and will actually change this. This bothers my OCD self.

        • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.com/ Sheryl

          Would a mat with a rubberized underside help that disagreement?

          • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

            Our cats also ruined the toilet paper debate, which wasn’t, really. if it goes on under they cant’ unroll it, and 98% of the time they don’t shred it. the other 2% I’m cleaning up Charmin Snow.

        • KC

          What is the logic behind folding the bathmat in half? I can’t even visualize how/why/when you would do this, except maybe for storing extra bathmats in the closet or something? Is it something he grew up with? (in which case, it might be a relic of, for instance, his parents having a bathmat that had to be folded in half to fit in the space properly or something crazy like that; some things definitely outlast their original reasons!)

          I wonder if there’s a bathmat that would make you both happy – if thickness is why it gets folded in half, then an extra-thick one, or if it’s really just that bathmats-should-be-folded-in-half, then one that seems “meant” to be folded in half (like a half-one-color-half-the-other-color bathmat?) to soothe your brain? Or a totally different kind of bathmat (say, a non-rectangular one – there are animal-shaped ones or cloud-shaped ones; or a super-chunky one) that he doesn’t feel should be folded in half?

          • B

            What about a wooden bath mat. They work just fine as well and are neither cold or warm!

      • SD

        Consider yourself lucky. We haven’t even gotten that far. My guy takes the roll off the holder and leaves it on the counter. Every. Single. Time.

        • KC

          That is baffling – I’m really curious why on earth one would do this (unless the holder is one of those ones where the inside part makes it so the toilet paper refuses to roll off without significant wrestling, like in some highway-rest-stop bathrooms). Have you (gently) inquired as to the logic of this? I’d love to know!

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        We now live somewhere where there is no toilet paper roll holder on the wall, so we just keep it free-standing on a little hamper beside the toilet. :)

    • ItsyBitsy

      A resounding YES! to your points about defensiveness and explaining importance. These are things that I think I need to work on, but when I get them right life is a lot nicer.

      That being said, I also made sure we were both firmly in the correct TP camp.

    • K down under

      The enviro-friendly TP I usually buy has pictures of frogs on it, so the frogs have to be the right way up. Thankfully, this also the way i think it should go anyway… :P

      • http://www.snippetsof.blogspot.com Sarah E

        That sounds like the best toilet paper ever.

      • http://thehumanehuman.blogspot.com Pippa

        Oh my goodness! We have the same toilet paper! And we love it and it’s adorable and we’re so sad when we don’t have it.

        P.S. Those little guys TOTALLY have to be the right way up.

        • KH_Tas

          We have it too

    • ANOTHER ANNIE

      Yes, yes! Many of my friends ask me, “So do you guys fight?” and the answer is… actually, no, not really. We have difficult, intense conversations in which I cry a lot (because I am generally weepy) but we have never had a screaming match. It’s because where my emotions look like an intense, frightening roller coaster, his look like an Amtrak train through the plains, steady and straight. Even when I snap at him, he responds calmly, and that lets my irritation/anger off the hook.

      (Compare this to my mom & I, where even a nicely-phrased remark will set her off and we will end up in a contest to see whose vocal cords will give out quickest.)

      Obviously, that’s a personality thing on his part and not something every couple can imitate, but it’s helped me so much to learn that it’s not risky to bring things up – everything is on the table. And even when it’s hard, as long as we’re not yelling, I don’t get the overwhelming urge to shut down, so we can really dig into the topic and work at what needs working.

      The only problem of course is when I’m being childish and I WANT to argue, but can’t because he is so calm – how dare he not indulge my anger by yelling back???

      • K down under

        this sounds soooo like us. only replace mum with dad.

  • fermi

    I loved this, I’m in a long distnace relationship and my boyfriend spent two weeks with me and at one point we were folding clothes/towels and after we were done folding he looks down and smiles and says, “we fold towels differently!” It made me laugh. This just rang so true, just because you don’t have everything in common doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail. (We also don’t really share the same interest in books, but we’ve found a few that we both like so far!)

    • Kelly

      I actually changed the way I fold towels, which is like a marriage miracle, because I don’t change any of my habits easily!

  • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

    And sometimes the little differences work together to blend us together more evenly. Like the teeth of a zipper.

    • KC

      Especially when you have complementary chore preferences! (he: does not dislike vacuuming, but dislikes slimy things; I: dislike vacuuming, but enjoy killing mildew in the bathtub)

      • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

        Complementary differences like that are some of the best kind.

      • http://thehumanehuman.blogspot.com Pippa

        Our whole chore system works on this exact principle! He doesn’t like dishes, but prefers that over cooking. I would much rather cook than do the dishes. When it comes to cleaning, he had his mind blown tonight when he realised that the reason I clean the mould in the bathroom is not because I like it, but because I know how much he hates it.
        Complementary differences FTW!

        • KC

          That is lovely and romantic. :-)

          We have some splits like that, where one partner does it because the other partner hates it… but for me, with the mildew, I honestly just like seeing it DIE. Mildew and I have a feud going on (thanks, allergies).

          Plus, it’s one of those “visible effects that last more than a few days” chores. I like that sense of accomplishment. :-)

          • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

            I love those kinds of chores as well. I get a lot of satisfaction out of clearing weeds from our yard. So much so that after I got our yard respectable last year I started covertly pulling the neighbors’ on either side.

          • KC

            I bet your neighbors love having a Weeding Elf. :-)

      • ANOTHER ANNIE

        When my partner said he’d do the dishes forever if I’d do the laundry forever, the heavens opened and beams of radiant light shone down upon the Earth. I. HATE. DISHES. It was like a gift from the universe, and it is treasured accordingly.

    • Edelweiss

      That’s such a lovely phrase!

  • Courtney K

    I so needed to read this today. Since getting engaged I’ve thought a lot about both the day-to-day quirks and the bigger value-related differences (I mean, the feminist fight? Yeah, we’ve had that one). It helps to know that others worry about, and also work through, these kinds of concerns. Thanks to both Lisa and Maddie for their insights on this post!

  • http://frenchiefrenchfry.wordpress.com Sarah

    EEEEEEP. (That’s a happy squeek)
    YES!
    My lord, I love my husband, but he is an engineer and I am an event planner/book loving girl. Different does not even begin to describe us.
    The sock thing–I actually don’t fold my husband’s t-shirts anymore because I can’t fold them the way he likes. I just make a pile of them on the bed and he folds them.
    I am pretty sure he re-folds his socks after I fold them too.
    But “We agree to love and respect each other, including, and especially, our differences. That’s really one of the most important things we need to agree on.
    That’s what makes us meant to be together.”. I couldn’t agree more. We might not understand why the other person thinks (or feels) the way they do, but we don’t have to. We have to respect that it’s a valid thought/feeling and continue loving the heck out of each other.
    On the bright side these differences have resulted in him doing the dishes at least 75% of the time. (I don’t clean them as thoroughly or well as he does. :) )

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      I remember my parents having two fights, and one was over who got to (not had to) do the dishes. My dad was very particular about how they were done. My mom wasn’t so particular. So Dad did the dishes and Mom did the laundry (although I do believe they each fold their own clothes still).

    • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

      I don’t fold my engineer husband’s t-shirts as precisely as he would like them either. I’m not sure if he redoes them or not.

      You’re right about respecting differences even when we don’t understand. He has a need to have the bed made that makes no sense whatsoever to me, but it’s important to him, so when I’m up after him, I make the bed. Despite the fact that no one will see it and we’re just going to mess it up again that night. I’ve never seen the point of making the bed until the point of it became that it matters to him. He doesn’t see the point of dryer sheets, except that I want them used, so he uses them in our shared laundry. Of course, it’s easier to resolve these things when it’s something that one of you cares about and the other one doesn’t.

    • Amanda

      On the recommendation of a friend, my husband and I read The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch, about the author’s diagnosis with mild autism and how it affected his marriage. Though he has not been diagnosed with any autism-spectrum disorder, my husband saw a lot of the same behavior habits in himself. It started a conversation about chores and things that he finds annoying that was very constructive.

      So now I let him fold his own clothes, because he was refolding the entire basket when I folded them for him. I am also organizing the kitchen cabinets the way he likes (only one kind of cup in each row, plates segregated by color) because it takes almost no extra effort and makes him feel better.

      Also, I have solved the bath mat dilemma in my bathroom by having TWO bathmats! There’s one next to the shower for getting wet, and another that lives in front of the toilet that keeps my feet warm when I sit down. Perfect!

  • meg

    I love Lisa. (Fact: she and her husband met my train at a station in Arizona on book tour and hung out with me for an hour while the train loaded and unloaded. I know, right?)

    I love Maddie.

    I love bathmats.

    FIN.

    • marbella

      I am in Arizona now! Is there a big APW contingency here? I am missing the DC crew!

      • http://www.doomedforhappiness.blogspot.com Shana

        I’m in Arizona! I’d love an APW meetup… Just sayin’.

        • marbella

          Shana look me up on facebook! My username is stellamarbella

          • marbella

            For anyone else in AZ – I just created a group on facebook – APW-AZ. Look it up and join. Maybe we can find more than two of us!

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      That was a fun night! We’re really glad you weren’t going the other direction. I don’t know if we would’ve shown up at 2am.

  • Not Sarah

    I don’t think that you need to have a lot in common, but you need to be able to work together. It doesn’t matter if you have different ideas, so long as you’re not fighting about them.

    My now ex and I had different ideas about so many things, which was fun in the first few months, but eventually it led to constant fighting about everything. All of our differences could have been worked around/through, so long as we could have rational, non-defensive discussions around them. But we couldn’t. On anything.

    “We agree to love and respect each other, including, and especially, our differences. That’s really one of the most important things we need to agree on.”

    This is the key part of your post. I’m so glad that things are working for you and your husband!

  • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

    I always tell people that my husband and I have very few hobbies in common but we share almost entirely the same outlook on life, our goals, and what successful marriage means to us. That wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone, but it works for us. (And the bonus is we get to introduce each other to new interests!)

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      Exactly! My husband has taken up a moderate interest in astronomy since meeting me. And I’ve gotten more in to languages because of him. Plus, if you have different hobbies you have a built in cheerleader for that hobby!

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      Yep, I NEVER EVER watched sci-fi or action movies before we were together, but S has introduced them to me and now I find them pretty enjoyable. We made our way to the Star Trek series, and currently are making our way through Voyager now… :)

  • Rose

    Lisa, this is beautiful, funny, and much-needed today. Thank you!

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      You’re welcome. :)

  • NTB

    My husband and I agree to disagree. Unfortunately, the issue now that is starting to come up a lot in our lives is where we want to buy a house and how much we want to spend. It’s a huge decision, mostly because we’ll be living/sleeping/hopefully raising children in this future home, and it’s a very large investment of time and hard-earned money to purchase a home. I am a big fat planner/worrier and he’s more of a spontaneous, ‘it’ll work itself out’ type. Drives me. INSANE.

    This process is NOT going very well for us. It’s one of those things that’s hard to plan for in advance because you never know what it’s going to be like to buy a home with someone until you actually DO it. Compounding these difficulties is the fact that you can’t know what neighborhoods you like or can afford until you go shopping, but you can’t plan without looking, but you can’t buy something until you’re ready to buy. You know what I mean? Looking a year in advance seems like overkill to him, but to me, it’s all about starting to discuss what we like about certain neighborhoods, schools, etc. instead of actual homes.

    We don’t see eye to eye on everything, but we are now focusing on the 2 or 3 things that are important to both of us and trying to leave behind some of the unnecessary ‘wish list items’ and fluff that tend to come up when we’re looking at places. We apply this strategy to other areas such as things we want to buy, or how we want to spend our free time.

    In terms of bigger picture arguments, I am a big feminist, and my husband thinks feminism is a joke. So I gave up trying to convince him because it caused a lot of stress between us and it didn’t feel worth it to bring it up since feminism isn’t really a day to day issue that impacts our lives. Our therapist told us to think about this question before initiating an argument: am I trying to prove something, or am I trying to IMPROVE the relationship? It has helped us a lot.

    That’s one strategy we are trying to use. I’ll let you know how it goes. (hahahahah!!! ;)

    • Kris

      My fiance and I are eerily similar to you and your husband. The only difference being feminism isn’t really an issue since we both come from families with strong female heads.
      When we were looking for a house it finally came down to me looking/planning and I’d bring him in when I’d found something worthwhile. It’s hard for me because I had these fantasies of us hand-in-hand house hunting and planning our future; but that is not our real relationship, so I had to let the fantasy go and work on improving the reality. Planning gives me safety and control and he still has equal input on the final say. We had to move for jobs later that year so it’s actually good we never found anything!
      I love the advice your therapist gave you! I’m going to have to keep that in mind.

    • Sian

      Woah, a joke?! See, I just don’t know if I could deal with that, even after trying to utilise your therapist’s exceptionally great advise. I think it would just eat at me that he thought that way about something not just so tantamount to me and my identity but also so much of a, well, a human rights issue for the entire world, basically. I’m getting fired up just thinking about it! I’m glad you’re making it work!

      • NTB

        I think that my husband believes that many of the feminists of my mom’s generation had it wrong it a lot of ways. And, I tend to agree with him on this point, but I didn’t at first. The discussion led to many arguments, at which point I decided we needed to seek counseling, because feminist issues are important to me. However, I don’t think it ever hurts to discuss ideas openly and agree to disagree.

        The part that he thinks is ‘a joke’ is the part where women can be everything to everyone: that we can excel in a high-powered career, excel at caring for our families, and devote equal attention to all of these important things in our lives, without going completely insane. I feel that the women of my mom’s generation not only believed this was possible, but was also ideal for women. I used to believe it, too, until I started to advance in my career at the same time as I was trying to conceive. It was overwhelming to imagine raising children and maintaining my career, while managing to stay sane, have time for myself, and time to develop my marital relationship. Of course, choosing career/family/etc. is a deeply personal choice for women (and thank goodness we have choices.) I truly feel that every women is different and no matter what choice she makes, to work/stay at home/a combination of the two—- that choice should be honored and respected.

        Early in our marriage, my husband and I would argue because I really didn’t know what I wanted, and he tried to be supportive of whatever choice I made, but I was too angry and immature to listen to what he was saying. When he told me to keep my career because he knows how important it is to me and how much I love it, I took it as an insult. When he turned around and supported the idea of me staying home at least part-time, I took that as an insult, too. (“What?! You want me to give up my job?”) It really helped us to go to therapy and discuss this issue with a 3rd party because it helped us to clarify what roles and responsibilities we will take on in the child-rearing process.It’s never going to be equal, but it will be as equitable as two people can possibly make it. And that’s the conclusion that we came to in therapy: Instead of attacking, seek to understand. Nothing is 50/50; two people can interpret the word ‘feminism’ in totally different ways. And sacrifices will have to be made by both husband and wife when children enter the picture.

        As a concept, of course my husband doesn’t think that feminism overall is a joke. He grew up with 3 sisters and he’s not, by any means, sexist or misogynistic by any stretch. It just really helps to discuss these over-arching ideas because, as abstract as they sometimes are, they can affect our lives in real ways. And they often do. :)

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      How does he define feminism? I’ve heard a lot of definitions that are jokes and if he understands it as one of those, then it is a joke.

  • Katie

    The bathmats, oh, the bathmats. Ok, I have to ask. Does anyone else differentiate between the bathmat (flattish tightly knit mat – white, in my family – to catch drips when you step out of shower) and bath rug (fluffy colored rug to stand on when you’re at the sink)? This was the subject of our first argument upon moving in together – I wanted wet feet to go on the bathMAT to save the bathRUG, whereas my fiance thought it was totally nonsensical to have two separate floor coverings in our admittedly tiny bathroom.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Well…We have a foam bath mat that distributes moisture throughout, so it dries out each day. In the foggy Bay Area, anything else would never dry out completely once he moved in and it was being dripped on twice each day instead of once.

      Then we have a very thin bath rug, to use your terminology, which, because it’s not next to the shower, and because I’m usually in a robe or dressed when standing there, doesn’t get dripped on as much, which is good, ’cause it doesn’t dry very fast.

      We need both ’cause the bathroom floor is COLD and the only place I’m barefoot. “Warm is good; cold is bad” is a central tenet of our relationship.

    • http://www.chanouxstories.com Laura

      Yes, same here! We just moved into a new place and I mentioned buying a bath mat, but I’m not sure my fiance understood what I meant vs. bath rug, so I was wondering if my family was weird that we had both… glad to know it’s a distinction for other people!

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.com/ Sheryl

      Growing up we always had two mats in the bathroom, one to catch drips by the shower, one to keep our feet warm in front of the sink. Both were of the same variety though: fluffy and with rubber/nonskid bottoms.

    • One More Sara

      Kind of related… in our apartment building, our kitchens don’t have heaters (every other room has it’s own radiator, except the bathroom (which has a heated mirror so it doesn’t fog up when you shower! best thing ever)). As a result, standing on our kitchen floor in the winter is like standing on ice. One night while cooking dinner, I decided I had had enough and folded a bath towel in half for the floor in front of the stove. When my partner came home from work, he was confused about what the heck a bath towel was doing on the kitchen floor. Then he stood on it and understood.

      • Amanda

        I also have a rug in the kitchen that I slide around to stand on wherever I am in the kitchen. Saves on cold feet and on achy knees from the hard floor!

    • Kelly

      We got the BEST memory foam bath mats for in front of the shower (for drips) in front of the sink (for warm feet) and for in front of the toilet (also for warmth). They practically overlap in our tiny bathroom but they are one of our best purchases ever.

    • http://thehumanehuman.blogspot.com Pippa

      Until we moved in together, my fiance didn’t even know that there were such things as bathmats. He always just thought you stood on a towel. Now I’m trying to remind him when I say ‘bathmat’ I mean the specific item that is created for the purpose of standing on and has its own characteristics and dimensions etc. etc. It’s a funny one.

      • Ilora

        We have a nice, big, soft, cushy bathmat right in front of the shower and another at the sink (less than a foot away) and my guy still insists on laying his towel across the floor (overlapping both of them!) to stand on….

    • Ashleyn

      So, I grew up in a really old farmhouse and the only shower was built out of cement blocks in the basement with a cement floor. (it was built with the intent of tiling over the cement, but that never happened, and I think still has never happened). There was no bathmat or bath rug – we all just toweled off in the “shower” area. The one luxury was that it was adjacent to the washer/dryer, so I always put my towel in the dryer during my shower and then dried off with a fluffy warm towel.
      Anyway, I never saw the need for any such mat or rug in the bathroom – the one I put in my bathroom was more just to cover up the ugly floor. Then when E and I started dating I saw his bathroom – he had the fuzzy matching toilet lid cover, bathmat, and rug in front of the toilet thing, and I was like, what is going on here? Did his mom decorate his bathroom?! Then I figured out that he doesn’t towel off in the shower at all, just gets out and drips everywhere, and that’s what all the rugs are for. It took me a while to get used to all the fuzzyness everywhere, especially on the toilet lid, but he likes it and it doesn’t really bother me, so I just go with it.
      All the bathmat commentaries are really cracking me up this morning!

  • marbella

    bahahaha! I haven’t read the post yet but had to comment for Maddie, I’ve had that exact argument with the husbando. I didn’t cry but raged about it instead, it still makes me mad!

  • http://thebookguardian.blogspot.com AmandaStretch

    My husband and I fold tshirts, socks, and towels differently! And we’ve learned each other’s methods so the other person can store their clothes in their preferred manner. :) Love this, Lisa!

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      I’ve actually decided I like how he folds towels better than how I did it. It makes it easier to put them on the rack when we get them out of the closet. I just don’t remember to do it all the time.

      • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

        I changed to my husband’s preferred sock-folding method because I determined it was better. :)

  • http://www.emilywenzel.com Emily

    My husband is Catholic (we went to Catholic Pre-Cana) and I’m Lutheran (we had a Lutheran ceremony because they let us get married outside. In a vineyard). I win.

    At our Catholic Pre-Cana weekend, they asked us a series of big and small questions that we had to answer “yes” or “no” to. Then they lined us all up and read out the questions. We went to the left or right side of the room depending on the answers. Some were big questions, like “I like a neat and tidy home” and “I want advance warning before people come over”. Others were “I squeeze the toothpaste from the middle” or “the toilet paper has to go a certain way” or “I like beards”. It was entertaining to see which stuff we agreed upon and which we didn’t. And it works. Somehow.

    Sidenote: the bathmat. We’re working on this as well.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Golly. I would NOT have been happy having to state those preferences in a group. This affirms our decision to drop out of Roman Catholic marriage prep.

      • marbella

        I’m not Catholic, but my husband is and we had a full Catholic mass wedding and did pre-cana. We didn’t have to do anything like this at all. I think it’s totally dependent on your church/priest. We did have to attend a 1/2 day conference as part of it, but there was no forced interaction with others – it was a couple of lectures and reading materials. The counselling/prep sessions we had with our priest were wonderful and I’d strongly advise you to reconsider dropping out (unless you have found some other marriage-prep that works for you better). I can’t recommend pre-marital counselling highly enough, and we were together 10 years (living together 6 of those) before we got married.

        • ElisabethJoanne

          I’ve ranted enough about our experiences with following the Roman Catholic Church’s rules before our wedding in today’s other post. Part of our issues were precisely that “it’s totally dependent.” If the Church is universal, why can’t the process be straightforward? And if you don’t know other local Catholic couples, first-hand information about the process is hard to come by. You could land at a session like Emily describes before you knew it was coming.

          Simultaneous with our failed attempts to follow the Roman Catholic Church’s rules, we had 2-on-1 prep with my Church, which also wasn’t an encouraging process. The issues there weren’t as systemic, though. Long before I got engaged, I had heard all growing up, and as an adult from the very priest involved at my church, that pre-marital counseling is the key to a successful marriage. If it’s helpful to others, that’s great. But if it’s key, my husband and I are doomed.

          • marbella

            I just read your comments on the other post, I’m sorry to hear you had such an awful time. I think the reason we enthuse about ours is that we were both absolutely certain immediately upon deciding to get married who the priest that we wanted to perform our ceremony would be (and therefore also our marriage prep) as we had experienced a lot of his services over the past few years and much preferred him and his attitude to other local priests. We didn’t know him personally but we now consider him a friend. It wasn’t the closest Catholic church to us, but there was no chance of me (culturally Church of England, but more realistically spiritual, very liberal and organized religion questioning) having our service performed by someone I didn’t like or respect.
            I would very much advise couples looking to have a Catholic wedding to choose your priest carefully. For us the priest was more important than the physical venue, though that worked as well.

  • http://www.dmarried.com Blair

    Oh. my god. ohmygod. can we put gifs into APW comments yet??

    Because right now imagine I am putting up the Rocky Eye of the Tiger gif all over this page.
    And then I am copy and pasting “THIS” a million times. And then getting a sharpie and scrawling “THIS” across my screen.

    Thank you guys. There is not a more precise sentiment in the world to describe my life. Life is always a little brighter when you know you’re not alone.

  • Juanita

    Loved this post so much, made me think of thoughts I’ve had about my own relationship and how out of a kindness to me my boyfriend did tell me his way to fold shirts/socks, but out of consideration for me would not refold them. And yet he’s my forever even if we don’t agree on everything.

  • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

    What kind of weirdo cracks an egg by hitting it with a fork??

    Seriously, though, this was so great to read. I would love to see even more discussion about differences in relationships in general, of all kinds – not just the day-to-day-living preferences, but also differences of philosophy, religion, politics, even personal taste (like in High Fidelity: is it more important what you like or what you’re like? I mean, rationally, of course, the latter, but the former can feel strangely important! Could I be with someone who hated, like really HATED my favorite band?). I think a lot of us who are used to the rom-com-type “ohhhhh, they are basically the same person so of course they are meant to be” trope probably struggle with all these differences, what they mean, and how much of an impact they (should) really have.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      My weirdo does!

      On that point though he says he’d use the side of the bowl if he was mixing our Sunday waffles in a bowl with a sharper edge than the plastic one he uses every week.

      And we decided the mirror cleaning thing goes back to my training as an educator – teachers know they need to erase a board up-and-down or their arm flab will flap back and forth.

      Characters in Rom-Coms never have discussions about bathmats.

      • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

        Haha, I love it! And I would totally pay to see a rom-com featuring a bathmat conversation. Or a toilet-paper-direction one, for that matter.

      • LAS

        Teachers do know that! Side to side also causes your butt to wiggle, which must be avoided in a middle school classroom at all costs!

    • Amanda

      My husband’s (male) best friend and I have a joke that we are the same person. We like Downton Abbey, cat videos, alcohol, etc that my husband hates. But my personality would NOT match relationship-wise with friend, while it definitely does with husband, even though on the surface husband and I might have less in common than friend and I do.

  • S

    Thank you for this! I really needed to read this right now. A few months into marriage and I’m in that “I wonder if something isn’t missing from our relationship” period. Such a gloomy, confusing place to be.

    But after reading this, I’m reminded that our differences make us fit together like a puzzle.

  • http://theoverwhelmedbride.wordpress.com/ Christina

    My fiance and I have had the bathmat discussion, as well. My bathmat and bathroom floor looked liked the Shamu splash zone at Sea World. I explained to him that a cold, wet bathmat does not a happy Christina make. He listened and has, since our conversation, been more thoughtful about how he exits the shower.

    My fiance and I have also had a number of conversations about how each person experiences life differently and have been shaped by their own unique circumstances. Even something as simple as how a person folds their socks is a result of a past that we (most likely) were not a part of.

    When you enter into a relationship (and, eventually, a marriage) it is important to acknowledge one another’s differences early on. As you said, Lisa, agreeing to love and respect one another is the most important thing you can agree on in a relationship/marriage. Sharing core values is important. Otherwise, all your differences are what make each of you special. Did you fall in love with your spouse because he/she enjoys the same music as you? Maybe. But, more likely than not, it’s the quirky qualities and the ways you compliment one other that attracted you to your spouse in the first place.

    • One More Sara

      I love your bathmat visual. Literally laughed out loud at my computer. Glad to hear that Shamu has gotten it under control though ;)

  • Kait

    The perfect person for us isn’t perfectly like us.

    I could exactly this line so many times. Great post, thoughtful insight and some good laughs.

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    I must say, it’s been rather amusing for both of us to realize just how universal the bathmat problem is. I didn’t realize there were people who got it as wet as he can until we got married. While I thought the toilet paper issue or the toothpaste tube issue might come up, I had no idea there would be a bathmat issue.

    • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

      I like bathmats, but they have to be made of thick towel and fully washable. It used to be an issue with my college roomates who absolutely wanted one of those which are made of this foamy absorbent material, which made me sick, and I could not tolerate because they are the perfect growing land for fungi, major yuck.
      Also, when we designed our bathroom we had major discussions over the angle that the floor had to have so as to prevent “Flooding” . I wanted a little border to prevent it…

    • Jashshea

      I’m a bathmats are for feet drying person, rather than for warmth and husband is as well. Our bathmat related drama came up when I moved in with him and was like who has WHITE bathmats (plural intentional)? They have to be GROOMED every other day to get my thick, dark, long hair off them. His argument was that yes, they do get dirty, but they’re easily bleach-able.

      The bathmats stayed, but I’m hoping to reopen the conversation when we move into a place where white doesn’t match (we currently have white paint and subway tile as well – it’s like a jungle of my hair).

      • KC

        I have this dilemma (although not re: hair) with kitchen towels and (rarely used) tablecloths and cloth napkins.

        Do you go for the ones you can bleach the heck out of (white), and hope they don’t get stained with something you can’t get out anyway (we currently have one spot of wine and one of tomato-or-maybe-curry-with-oil that I haven’t been able to figure out how to remove, *but* a lot of stains have come out of them over the years), or go for something with color that’s more likely to hide the stain but that you’re less likely to be able to get the stain out of?

        (alternative, most-recently-chosen option: invite enough people over so that all the stains on the tablecloth get covered up with plates and hope no one will notice… wait… is this the real purpose of “tablescapes”??? I may have suddenly gotten some motivation to do centerpieces…)

        Bathmats that show hair are a tougher issue, though. Maybe cheap bathmats, so that if there’s a toilet overflow or other gross problem, they can be tossed instead of having to be bleached? Or dark cotton ones, so they can have their dark phase and then their post-bleached phase?

        • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

          Hahaha. Just to throw another wrench in: I use a ‘tubmat’. Because apparently thats what my favorite department store calls them. Basically a thick towel, it comes in every color, and you just throw it in the wash whenever. Hair problem solved. And when they are dry you hang it up. And honestly, scotchguard the table cloth? Maybe? Mom has this thing called bleach for unbleahcables, but I just like pretty paper napkins for company

          My future mother in law and I had a similar discussion over towels. What color towel do you get when your huband works on machinery all day and works a farm in his free time? Another lady was heard to say ‘one year I just gave up and bought black towels’

        • http://breadandcheeseplease.com Charise

          Totally off topic, but a practical tip: to get most stains off (maybe not curry because that turmeric is a biotch), mix about 1 part dish soap to 2 parts hydrogen peroxide, pour some on the stain, rub it in after a min, then let it dry (lots of the stain will evaporate, like magic!), then wash. I’ve gotten red wine off my light beige couch, wine and beer and food stains off the tablecloths from my wedding to be resold, tomato sauce off a skirt, and more this way over the last few years – and it’s color safe. Just make sure you wash it, because otherwise over time the sun can slightly bleach out the spot with the hydrogen peroxide.

  • Rachel

    I think this is the most terrifying thing for me about my upcoming marriage: the fact that you can never truly know your partner. You will always be two different people looking from two different perspectives. Sometimes that divide spans only the width of a wet bathmat, and sometimes you are staring at each other across the gulf of a financial situation, or another hardship. You will both be dealing with it differently, thinking about it differently. And where does that difference stop being just cute (my partner and I bicker about how to load the dishwasher) to actually being something that’s a deal breaker.

    The more experiences you have with your partner, the more things you learn to love about them, and the more ways you realize they are different from you, with different ideas, even different values. I love my fiance very very much, but there are many places where we differ in opinion that make me think, “how are we going to deal with this down the road? Is this something we are going to be fighting about for the rest of our marriage?”

    Compromise and communication are the key obviously, but sometimes you just want to screw compromise and say, “I know you love me, so why won’t you just__ (identify as a feminist, go dancing with me once in a while, hang out with those people you hate and I like, etc.). Maybe part of it is just making peace with the fact that you can’t change your partner. You are never going to, and to focus on all of the things you do have in common. I don’t know. I haven’t figured it out yet, and I think its something people in relationships never stop working on. Every day, every interaction good or bad, is just another effort to bridge the divide between two independent human beings.

    • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

      “Every day, every interaction good or bad, is just another effort to bridge the divide between two independent human beings.”

      That. That’s an incredible definition of marriage. Marriage is choosing every day to bridge the divide. Some days the divide is a tiny stream. Other days the divide is the Grand Canyon. But every day you choose to build a bridge. And it’s scary and exhilarating all at once. It can seem like a one time choice to last a life time, but it’s really a life time of choices one by one. Just keep building your bridges, and know that because you are both making that choice that you will never have to build the entire bridge on your own.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      This is a really thought-provoking comment. Thanks for sharing it…

  • http://laorencha.blogspot.com channamasala

    “(I remember one time we got into a huge fight over dinner at a Thai restaurant because I couldn’t get him to identify as a feminist and my efforts to encourage him otherwise were unsuccessful. Sidebar: we’re still working on this. As a result, I spent the car ride home bawling at him that we were too different and obviously doomed for failure. Err… sometimes I’m a little dramatic.)”

    To be fair, I would have done the same thing. And I would not have thought myself dramatic for it. I’m not saying He Is Totally Wrong or that you should leave him (obviously not, I don’t even know you), but that would be a huge – possibly, nay, probably – dealbreaker issue for me. So don’t beat yourself up for bawling about it.

  • http://www.jakemoorephotography.co.uk/gallery_60761.html Jake

    Ha! Loving all these comments! Beautiful pics.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    I am late here… but Lisa / Giggles, thanks for writing this. You had me smiling all along, and it’s so true.
    The differences, the little things that make us complementary, those manias we have…. this is what marriage is exactly.

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  • Hillori

    Whenever he becomes a Mr. Bossypants, we still laugh about the day he tried to “correct” how I carried the litterbox up the stairs.

    Love the whole article!

  • Aly

    Thank you for saying hoagie, among other things in the article. That one little word just made my day. :)