Friday, August 17, 2007

Underwhelming Transformation

This morning I said to my husband, “I think that after 10 years of marriage, you’ve changed me more than I’ve changed you.”

And then I couldn’t immediately offer any concrete evidence, except that I now eat toast this way: bread buttered and toasted under the broiler instead of toasted in the toaster and then buttered. (There is a whole complicated process to Toastmaking Justin’s Way, which involves spreading the butter ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE of the bread to prevent excess browning, and turning the bread over to let the back firm up just a bit so it’s perfect for holding jelly so he can fold the piece of toast in half with the buttered side outside and the jelly inside—it’s making me tired just thinking about it. So I figured if I had to make toast according to his specifications anyway, I might as well make some for myself. If you can’t beat him, join him. And it is yummy.)

But at least that was ONE thing that marriage has changed about me, whereas I couldn’t think of ANY way he’s changed to accommodate my habits. I mean, we’ve both had to change since we had kids—but just for each other? Ha! The only change I can think of was mutual, and happened even before our kids arrived: we both decided that sleep was more important than staying out late so we can feel cool. We both know we are uncool; we embrace the uncoolness and OWN it. (This will come in handy when our kids tell us we are uncool. We will just smile and agree.)

OH! I just thought of something! I make a concerted effort to close the cabinet doors after I get something out, even if I am just going to open them up again in 2 minutes, because he can’t stand seeing the cabinet doors left open. It is his profession to build beautiful cabinets, after all. So I close them. But does he remember to put the lid back on medicine bottles or re-fold the towel after washing his hands? NOOOO! (He is in deep denial about this, by the way; doesn’t even believe he forgets to do these things.)

Okay, I can see that dwelling on this issue too long could lead to marital conflict. Better move on.

Justin said he didn’t think my statement about our comparative changing was true. When challenged to name ways that I’ve changed him, he did. 1) He feels he is less harsh with Miss Pink than he would tend to be, because I have helped him see when discipline needs to be tempered with gentleness; and 2) I force him to express his emotions when he is upset and tries to bottle them up, and he is glad because then we can work things out.

After he said that, I told him that he had helped me to become less dramatic and overemotional. For the first seven years or so, he tried to do this by telling me not to have negative emotions. I think he actually said once, “Well then, just don’t feel that way.” Might as well tell me to become a guy: it was impossible. Then he learned to make me feel safe and appreciated, so I gradually didn’t feel that I had to make a big scene to get my needs met.

Thanks, honey. We might not have changed each other much, but we’ve learned to live with each other pretty darn well.

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