You’re doing it wrong, open-mindedness & marital lessons

I’ve been thinking about my marriage a lot lately. Not anything bad, really, but just about how expectations can be different from reality and how learning how to be in a marriage, or any relationship for that matter, is a process and a learning experience.

Andrew and I don’t fight a lot. We bicker, usually because there’s some sort of missed connection going on and we’re not understanding each other, or we’re just both having bad days and opt to deal with poorly through snippy comments. For the most part though, we’re pretty fight-free.

I get irritated and annoyed when he leaves out details he’s recently learning, especially major details like a friend’s recent job departure or a recently announced pregnancy, or when I don’t get his jokes and he refuses to explain them to me in a way I can understand. He gets irritated when I don’t explain things in a man-brain friendly sort of way, or when I jump into a story without filling him on any background information.

Most of my annoyances though, and I’m sure Andrew would agree with this assessment, come from my frustration with the way he does things. It’s not the he’s crazy or does things in a backwards sort of way, it’s just that my brain seems to think that there is only one way – my way- to accomplish little, mostly insignificant household tasks.

Logically, I recognize that there are different ways to accomplish tasks. I know different people come from different backgrounds and develop different strategies for doing the dishes, folding laundry and making dinner. I know that. I get it. At least in theory.

I often use the term”open-minded” to define myself. I’m open to different cultures, different races of people, different religions, different walks of life, different sexual orientations, different ways of living life. In fact, I’m pretty fascinated by cultural differences and the diversity of the human race. But, so help me, if you don’t fold that t-shirt the right way (my way) you are WRONG to the WRONGEST degree and if you just so happen to put your keys NEXT TO the key bowl instead of ACTUALLY IN THE KEY BOWL, which you know is the WRONG way to do it, then it’s on like donkey kong, bitch.

So yeah. I guess the open-mindedness I’ve prided myself on only extends so far. Maybe on the macro level I’m open to a whole variety of things, but on the micro level – the level that designates the right way to fold the laundry, load the dishwasher and weed-whip the yard – I’m pretty closed-minded.

It’s not something I’ve ever thought about in terms of marriage, that open-mindedness was key to success, at least not with that terminology anyway. Sure, I knew there would be lessons and that we would develop ways to coexist happily but I didn’t really anticipate ever getting pissed off at the way the dishes are put in the dishwasher. I didn’t ever think I’d be the sort of person who requires the keys go in the key bowl by the front door. I expected to learn how Andrew operates, I expected to get deeper into the type of person he was and to keep learning more about him with every passing day.

It seems naive now, really, that I would think I could learn all these great lessons about Andrew without learning all these great, sometimes hard to swallow, lessons about myself too.

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8 thoughts on “You’re doing it wrong, open-mindedness & marital lessons

  1. This post comes at a great time for me – next weekend my fiance and I are headed for our marriage preparation course (we have to take it in order to get married at that church)! Really interesting point – I often feel the same way; I can make all these statements about learning from each other and understanding, but when it comes to someone not doing something the way I would, my initial reaction is that their way is WRONG, and all my common sense seems to go out the window! Nice moment of self-reflection though 🙂

  2. San

    Oh my, did you hit the nail on the head.
    Being open-minded on the macro-level seems fairly easy now, doesn’t it? But being open-minded on the micro-level can be pretty tough. I am learning that, too.

  3. This is great! I find myself making little compromises every single day. It wears on your nerves sometimes. We’re both really tidy people but have our moments of zero energy… usually on different days. I’m just now starting to not get tense when I see socks on the floor (or some other annoying thing from my list of anal retentive quirks). Not only am I not getting tense, I’m not picking those suckers up! I’m no mom!!! It’s kinda liberating to just let things go on bad days. My bf is way more laid back than I am so, he’s been rubbing off on me a bit. I kinda like it!

    1. I go through the whole “I’m not your mother!” thing too – all the time. It’s silly though because I know, logically, that I make messes too and that I can’t get mad at him for doing things that I do as well.

      And Andrew is way more mellow than me too – he helps me chilll out.

      1. What do you think it is that makes us want this order out of chaos so badly? Lack of control in so many other aspects that the little things seem that much more crucial? No idea. My mom was a Martha Stewart style home goddess before she got sick. I don’t think I could ever live up to those standards. I just want things acceptably neat.

  4. Man oh man! I’m so the same way. I have a certain way of folding towels and clothes, and when Billy does it differently, it grates on my nerves! And Billy does the same thing with the key bowl – always right next to it, never in it. Oh, and his dirty laundry – always right next to the hamper, but never in it. DRIVES ME CRAZY!

    Wow, do I sound like a control freak!

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