Getting along requires compromise

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Because my husband John Pitts & I hold differing political views and vote for opposing candidates, many folks wonder how we make our marriage work. (Actually, those questions usually are directed to my husband in the form of “How in the world does Cathy put up with you?”)

Today, on an Election Day that’s responsible for, I bet, millions of other families in the same situation these past months, I thought I’d share a thoughtful analysis of a typical reasoned & logical & courteous exchange between my husband & me in hopes it may inspire others.

Totally kidding. We never have reasoned & logical exchanges.

But we do have conversations like this:

Me: Hey, sweetie, didn’t you say you put that box in my car as I asked you to?
JP: Yup, I sure did. Why?
Me: Because it’s not there.
JP: Sure it is.
Me: No, it’s not.
JP: Yes, it is.
Me: Sweetie, I saw this with love & respect, but that box is not in the back of my car. At all. Not. There.
JP: What are you talking about? I put it exactly where you asked me to.
Me: You put it in the back of the car?
JP: Of course.
Me: Well, it’s not there–unless you magicked it with a Cloak of Invisibility.
[Momentary silence as we mutually head out of the kitchen & into the garage. I stop midway at the back-seat door of my CVR, preparing to open it & prove the non-existence of the disputed box. John Pitts, however, continues his march to the back of the car, opens the rear cargo door & triumphantly points inside.]
JP: See? It’s right here.
Me, confused: But that’s not the back.
JP: What are you talking about? Of course it’s the back.
Me, still confused but gesturing to the correct location–the back seat: No, that is not the back. This is the back. That’s the way-back.
JP, looking as if he wished he had his own Cloak of Invisibility: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Me, speaking slowly & clearly: That. Is. Not. The. Back. That. Is. The. Way. Back.
JP, now looking a bit dazed: I literally have never heard you call this the ‘way-back’.
Me, considering but ultimately discarding–in the interest of civility–a comment referencing the number of times I say things proportionate to the number of times he hears me say the things: Hmm … well, that’s what it’s called. We’ve always called it the ‘way-back’.
JP:
Me: Besides, why would I want the box in the way-back? I’ll never remember to drop it off at the donation center if it’s [pausing for emphasis] way back there.
JP, doing a remarkable job of remaining calm: Would you like me to move it to the back seat for you?
Me: Oh, that would be lovely. Thank you so much.

And that’s how we negotiate our conflicts to a mutually satisfying conclusion: He knows I’m correct but won’t admit it but it’s OK because I know that he knows that I’m the winner.

Happy Election Day!

Art

Okay, here’s a puzzle to get your brain going this rainy Monday morning. A friend of mine and her husband recently went to a paint-it-yourself studio and had a wonderful time. My friend claims that neither she nor her husband are artistic but they had so much fun learning how to create these paintings. Here’s the puzzle: Can you guess which one my friend did and which one her husband did? She says that everybody who knows them can instantly identify the correct paintings, but I’m not so sure it’s immediately apparent who did which. Here are some clues: My friend is a pharmacist and businesswoman whose style can best be described as casual and relaxed. Does that help? Also, one of these paintings is titled “Plain Simple” and the other “Extreme Normal.” No prizes — just the satisfaction of knowing you’re intuitive and smart. Good job!

Furniture

Bedroom furnitureWhenever we’re someplace where there’s a furniture store and we’ve got a few minutes to kill — which happens maybe every other year or so — my husband and I go in and wander around and  pick out things we both like for when we (hope to) get a new house together and start from scratch. Right now we’re in the house I bought with my ex-husband years ago and raised my two daughters in as a single mom. It has a definite girly vibe with ex leftovers. My Sofehusband is a good sport and says he doesn’t mind for now but it’ll be good to have our own house together with our own things together. So on a recent weekend visit to Nashville, Tennessee, we did some furniture “shopping” and as always, I was surprised by some of my husband’s picks. For instance, I would have thought he’d dismiss this bedding set as too shiny, but he liked the sophisticated sleekness of it, I think. Sort of upscale hotel meets big-city loft — or at least what my small-Alabama-town imagination thinks that marriage would look like! He also approved of this white sofa with the blue and black pillows. Again, he said he was drawn by the simple yet substantial lines and peacefully quiet colors. Of course, my maternal inner housewife thinks, “White? Are you kidding?” And I’m thinking of myself here, since I can’t eat or drink anything without making a mess. I guess I’d have to sit on the floor. Or switch to white wine.

Interior Decorating

furniture-jan-2009-004

After my husband and I got married five years ago at the ripe old ages of 46, he just sort of moved his toothbrush and sock drawer into the house where I’d lived for a decade as a single mom raising two daughters. As a couple, he and I never have created a household together from scratch and I’m constantly trying to figure out what his “style” is before we do that. We’re probably distinct opposites — on everything. For instance, he’s a newspaper sports editor who watches “CSI,” listens to Rush Limbaugh and says his favorite movie is “Roadhouse.” I’m a freelance writer who watches “Survivor,” listens to NPR and adores the original “Sabrina,” although we both like “Good Eats,” REM and “Raising Arizona.” Hmmm. You see my dilemma. I can’t figure out how all that translates to one unifying home decor.  But I keep trying. On a recent meander through a furniture store, I asked him which — if either — of these two candle fixtures he liked better. Naturally, it wasn’t the one I liked. However, there is hope because we both said the one we didn’t pick wasn’t all that bad. Maybe after five years of marriage, we’re becoming more alike than different. Crazy!!! But in a good way.