This weekend, Ian and I will celebrate our 13th year of marriage together. Before we had Grace, we most often celebrated our anniversary by a trip to the cabin or, at the very least, a fancy dinner out somewhere. This year, we are celebrating by throwing some meat in our smoker and enjoying the privacy our brand new backyard fence affords. In the last five minutes I realized maybe I should bake a cake or pie with G as well since she is fascinated by cooking and baking at the moment, both real and imaginary. Our celebrations will be pretty-low key the next couple of years, reflecting and embracing the fact that our marriage now includes our daughter and our soon-to-be second born.
In past blogs, I’ve written both mushy missives and advice-laden posts inspired by my marriage – I don’t keep it terribly hidden that I love my husband and derive a lot of joy and peace from our marriage. I also don’t keep it a secret that we have our disagreements and have to spend time working on aspects of our marriage occasionally. So, instead of going overboard on the mush or the advice this year, I thought I would present to you, dear reader, the top six disagreements Ian and I have never rectified. Maybe these will horrify you, or maybe you’ll see a little bit of you and your partner in these disagreements!
(1.) The validity of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for dinner: Before Ian and I became a couple, I probably ate boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked a variety of ways, at least half the week for dinner, if not more. I was raised in a cholesterol-vigilant house and my parents relied heavily on them for dinners, and I took that knowledge with me to college. Really, all you need for a delicious dinner is some chicken, some seasoning, a George Foremaan Grill and some veggies! Ian, however, believes to this day that boneless, skinless chicken breasts are only good for sorority girls and considers them terribly depressing for dinner. He will eat chicken otherwise – roast chicken, fried chicken, chicken in a stew – but he has never given in on the subject of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and, with the exception of the pesto chicken breasts from Whole foods, has never allowed me to make them for dinner. Through his sheer tenacity, Ian wins this argument, although they are the first food I make when he is out of town. Wait, that’s not right – he’s allergic to seafood. The first food I make when he is out of town is some sort of shellfish…followed the next day by chicken.
(2.) The placement of our bed in the master bedroom: We have a large master bedroom that comes complete with an area set aside for, well, we aren’t sure what. It’s a distinct area in the room architectually, and many people have recommended we turn it into a walk-in closet since our house was built during a time when people owned two dresses and one pair of shoes and so we find ourselves with a surplus of space but none of it for storage. Ian has long argued that our bed belongs in that space while I point out that if we put the bed there it will cover up one of the two heating/cooling vents and block air flow in the room. We’ve lived in the house for four and a half years and never managed to agree on the matter, moving the bed back and forth every six months or so. Currently, it’s in Ian’s preferred spot becaus he spent last weekend ripping up our probably 50 year old carpeting and moved it during the process. I guess right now he is winning this argument but I don’t expect it to last.
(3.) The pronunciation of the word lilac: I was brought up pronouncing it Li-LOCK – he pronounces it Li-Lack. This seems to be a regional thing – the farther south you travel, the more likely people are to pronounce it the way Ian does. On this same topic, you could see also the words: coupon, basil and sandwich.
(4.) The temperature in the house: Ian, I think perhaps because of some lingering autoimmune issues, likes the house extraordinarily cool in the summer and warm in the winter. He hates the ideas of open windows in the name of fresh air, and it is this issue more than any other that has me convinced we will either end up retiring in separate parts of the world or, best-case scenario, in side-by-side apartments with independent thermostats. This is an issue that actually makes me feel somewhat vulnerable in our marriage, as in “am I going to have to spend my WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE physically uncomfortable? With no fresh air? As in, FOREVER?” Because I never win the thermostat war.
(5.) Flonase: During the year of our great sicknesses, when G was first in daycare and we caught every germ that came our way, whether from her or the hospital system we work for, our family physician prescribed us both flonase as-needed to tame our sinus passages. I cannot put into words how well this worked for me, for everything from allergies to head colds, and I miss is it more than I miss wine during this pregnancy. Well, maybe not, but it’s definitely a tie! Ian to this day will not take flonase, but never can explain why. It has actually become something of a Thing – you know, the kind of thing where if I mentioned Flonase is any sort of conversation Ian immediately becomes defensive about it because I want him to take it, he won’t, and here we are. Winner? Me. I have the happy nasal passages.
(6.) Dress shirts in colors other that white or blue, creatively belted jeans and bangles: Also known as our dramatically different tastes in clothing. Ian is the most conservative dresser I think I’ve ever met, besides maybe my mother, but even she will add some splash now and again. Even my vice-president takes more risks than Ian does. He wears white or blue dress shirts, blue, black or grey suits, and a variety of ties, but never ornate or with an interesting pattern. At home, he wears jeans, khakis, polo shirts and boat shoes, and calls it good. In a way I envy him – he’s so certain about who he is and what he should look like. I, on the other hand, often let my out-of-control curly hair dictate my sense of style and for a long time mimicked Jewel. I’ve grown up a quite a bit in the time we’ve been together and I no longer torture Ian with peasant shirts and clothe jewelry and instead aim for a more classic look, with my hair usually as my sole accessory. We no longer have to argue about bangle bracelets and red dress shirts but sometimes I think we could both use a little pizazz. Maybe I will bejewel our blackberries….Winner: The viewing public who has to look at us.
There you have it! I am certain we have more disagreements that haven’t been resolved but they don’t easily pop to mind the way these six do. I think understanding compromise is an important lesson we should teach folks about to become newlyweds, but we should also teach the fine art of losing – you aren’t going to win every argument and the sooner one comes to terms with that, the happier the marriage will be!