Suburban Snapshots

This is Why We Fight

Monday, June 04, 2012

Generally, Steve and I don't argue over much. We're not yellers and are careful in choosing battles. This morning for example, I knew I was in a foul mood. The weather's been crap, I feel bloated and I woke to a full kitchen sink. When I started to make our bed I noticed that Steve had clothes hanging over or crumpled up on almost every surface of our room. There was a t-shirt slung over the door, pajama bottoms draped over the change jar, a pile of Carhartts stacked on a storage bin, another pile in the closet and as I headed for my phone I spotted a pair of his dirty socks hanging over a chair. This is the stuff those episodes of "Snapped" are made of.

What I wanted to do was photograph every incident of Do These Look Like They $%*#&$ Belong Here?! and text them to him one by one. Instead, realizing I was headed for Shrewsville, I took a breath and called, calmly asking, "Honey, what's happening with the Rubbermaid in our bedroom, and the pants folded on top of it?" My technique worked, because he apologized for leaving such a wreck without once getting defensive about it. Usually, that's how we operate.

Except when it's time to do the motherbleeping bills.

For a little while I handled the bills, but Steve is so anal orderly about his process that what I paid and when constantly caused arguments. I gladly handed the duties back to him, knowing this would lead to the monthly scrutiny and questions bellowed from the office; "Honey? What's this $32 at 900 Lafayette Road? Did you go out to breakfast on Thursday? I need the password to your Gap account." I hear the frustration in his voice, I get defensive, like I have to justify every penny spent on a lunch out here or there, a morning working at Starbucks, a $16 shirt from Marshalls, a party gift.

I don't spend much but I could spend less. I'm glad that one of us is so meticulous in overseeing the household budget, even as I sit annoyed while Steve verbally itemizes the outgoing bills and balances, then notes the figures on a whiteboard chart. I appreciate that he's on top of it. And despite his frugality, he found a way for me to drop significant money on a timing belt and upgraded camera last month.

I suspect that bill night will always be tense because dealing with money causes Steve immediate stress. I plant myself as far from the office as possible, anticipating the interrogation, and though I'm not good at disguising my aggravation with the whole ordeal, we both know it'll be over in an hour or so…for at least another four weeks.

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