“They” say opposites attract and in some ways Husband and I meet that criteria. I tend to be an over-the-top optimist. Initially, I meet someone and expect that I’ll love them forever. I’m surprised if they ultimately disappoint me. Husband expects people to be idiots and is pleasantly surprised if they prove to be someone he actually enjoys spending time with. I am a bit of perfectionist (understatement of the year) where Husband has much better perspective on what’s actually worthy of my compulsive attention and care.
But, in a lot of ways, we’re also very much alike. We were both raised in small towns by parents who stayed together (a bit of a feat in the 80s). We were both taught at a young age that respecting (and actually talking to not grunting at) adults can open doors for you. And, we were both athletic kids. On the fields we each formed friendships with people who stood by us at our wedding, our teammates for life. We learned to be trusty worthy, to always have your teammate’s back, to be fair, to follow the rules but also…we learned that we like to WIN.
Husband and I like to win. A lot.
So, we’re a wee bit competitive (new understatement of the year).
1) We watch Jeopardy! together every night. Really. Well, every week night. We sit next to each other at the kitchen counter and shout out the answers questions. We used to pay more attention to who got what right than we do today. We’d even announce a winner at each show’s conclusion. (I know…kind of geeky but whatever). I actually love this about our marriage. I love how he surprises me when he announces “Ferdinand” as the King of Spain when Spaniards lost their American territories. Huh? I love that he’s so smart. But, I still want to be just a little bit smarter than he.
2) One Thanksgiving weekend in his hometown we were watching football with his family and a few of our friends. Some knucklehead kicker missed an extra point to lose the game. I off-handedly mentioned that it was amazing to me that some guy could spend his whole life practicing that one thing (kicking that same distance every time) and miss. Husband agreed and boldly stated:
I bet even I could hit ten in a row.
Me: No way.
Husband’s buddy, Mike: No way.
Husband’s brother: Sure, he could.
Me: No way.
Fifteen minutes later we were at Olympia Sports picking up a professional sized football and a tee. Thirty minutes later we were at the high school football field. Solo cups of warm rum and cider in hand.
We allow Husband a few warm-up attempts.
He made one. two. three. four.
Me (thinking): I am so losing this bet.
Husband (smug): Ok! These count.
Made another one. two. three.
four. five. six. seven.
eight. nine. MISS!
I won! I won!
Husband: So lame. Stop celebrating. I really made thirteen in a row, and you know it.
Me (leaping around): Oh, no. Those first ones didn’t count! You made nine. I win! I win!
Husband: Shut it.
3) There are a lot of little things in a marriage that couples just adopt as habit. Who does what chores, who pays the bills, who grills, who takes out the trash, who does dishes. Things that are accepted as “my job” or “his job” that we just do without discussion. Then there are those little jobs that you try to avoid. Like, when you’re the one that almost finishes the bottle of wine and you know as you put it away that the next person to pour is going to have to open a new one. Ha. Gotcha.
Well, we do that sort of competitive nonsense all the time. Most of the time, without discussion. Because we know when we win. And, we know when we’ve been had..and we’ve lost.
So, when the toothpaste started running low recently, neither of us wanted to replace it. So, as we’ve done many times before, we would each eek out every last little bit of paste for as long as we could and then put the now flat tube back for the other person to attack. And hopefully, their attempt would prove futile. And, in that moment, they’d be forced to admit defeat. Because they’d have to be the one to reach over and open the new tube. (I know, I know. Ridiculous. But, like I said…we’re just a little competitive.)
But, this time was different. Let me tell you, I’m good at toothpaste eeking. I can fold that baby six ways from Sunday. I rarely lose the toothpaste battle. But, damn, I swear I thought I’d had him days ago and every time I returned to the sink the paste was still there. Wow. Impressive, Husband. But, I will not be defeated. And, I’d fold and bend and squeeze and press and Yes! Enough to at least make a little foam. Now, I had him. No doubt about it.
But, the next morning, long after Husband had gotten up and gone to work, I head into the bathroom to get ready.
WHAT?! The toothpaste was still there. How in the world…?!
So, begrudgingly, I surrendered.
With a defeated sigh, I reached over to my left and pulled out the box of toothpaste.
Opened the box. Pulled out the tube and…
Subject: You dog
Date: May 26, 2010 7:39:54 AM EDT
To: Husband <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You’ve been using the toothpaste out of the box!!
From: Husband <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: You dog
Date: May 26, 2010 7:50:54 AM EDT
Yep. But, you were doing such a good job working with the old one.
Grounds for divorce? Perhaps.
But, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the one that gives up on marriage first.