Marriage Isn't Give and Take
Oct 01, 2020 10:47AM
By Maggie Barnes
“You aren’t throwing that out, are you?”
I truly believe that marriage represents the final frontier of the human experience. The concept of two people choosing to spend a hefty portion of their earthly lives interacting with each other fascinates me. There are just so many places for the whole thing to go wrong.
For instance, have you ever noticed that people who are always cold and people who are always hot marry each other and then spend their days fighting over the thermostat? The thrifty and the extravagant, the neat and the sloppy, the over the roll and the under the roll...we are attracted to those who row in the opposite direction.
In my own domestic bliss, there are two glaring areas of difference. One is packing for a trip. I freely admit that I bring half the house for a long weekend. Meanwhile, Robert could have pulled off the landing at Normandy with two rowboats and a backpack. So, we compromise. I start packing a week before we leave and Robert allots a full seven minutes to throw a bag together and we are out the door. It works.
The other point of conflict is more difficult to manage, as ours is a mixed marriage.
He hoards. I toss.
When we bought our hilltop home, we suddenly had four times the house and ten times the land. We went from a co-owned two-car garage that was deeded down the center (I don’t recommend it), to a four-vehicle garage suitable for barn dances. I thought we’d never have enough stuff to fill all the space.
“Bobby, these boots are shot. I’m tossing them.”
“Oh wait, they’ve still got some tread on them.”
“Which flaps open with every step. They’re going.”
If you know it, sing this part along with me: “I might need those someday.” Five pairs of boots in the house, but he is sure there will be a moment when his very happiness depends on having aerated footwear that the mice rejected as substandard housing. We go through a version of this every time one of us declares, “There is too much crap in here!”
So we can get rid of the newspapers from 1998? “I was going to clip stuff out.”
The busted lamp? “That’s fixable.”
The vinyl records we have no method of playing? “Hey, vinyl is hot again.”
We have 200 wine glasses. “We might have a party.”
Candles that have burned too low for the flame to be seen? “I can cut the sides down.” (Which is why it looks like Edward Scissorhands is in charge of candles at our house.)
Though I do not know when the Rolling Stones will be appearing in our field, we certainly have the floodlights at the ready to dazzle Mick. If we stopped washing silverware it would take us to Saint Swithin’s Day to run out of spoons. Someday we may be crushed by the avalanche of old bank statements, but if there is a retroactive audit to 1977, we’re ready.
I blame his mother.
I was the youngest child of six. Let’s face it, I was an afterthought. An oops, albeit with a lot of charm. Robert was the alpha and the omega, and my mother-in-law saved everything that ever touched him in his formative years. She kept the hospital menu from the week of his birth. You want all the cards from the baby shower? Right here. You want the bronzed baby shoes? Yo! The yellowed newspaper accounts of his every accomplishment? Got it covered. I opened one box with eyes squinted and breath held and Bobby said, “What are you afraid of?” I told him I figured his tonsils were in there. So he comes by it honestly, but I do feel bad for him. I know he cringes as I dump an entire desk drawer into a garbage bag and fling it out of the room with joyful abandon. And it’s not to say that I have never outsmarted myself.
“Where’s that coaxial cable?” he asked.
“Is that the black thing with the silver thing on the end of it with the tiny post thingy in the middle?”
“I threw it out.”
He simply gives me “the look” and heads to the store. Bless him.
In the grand scheme of life, this is not a bad subject to clash on. We keep each other honest. I try to check his hoarding and he regulates my tossing. The fact of the matter is there is no one else I would rather stand in a heap of stuff and debate with.
Just the other day, he opened my closet door and asked if I might consider getting rid of some of my dress shoes.
Well, now...that’s just crazy talk.