While on the road to Portage, I listened to a book on tape and was dreamily transported to another world. I took a sip of my travel mug of coffee. Yuck! Dishwashing soap.
I recalled this morning when my husband Frank said, “Didn’t you notice how the coffee maker needed cleaning?”
“It needed cleaning?” I pulled my thoughts from the fantasy world of the middle-grade novel I was writing.
“Yes, it did.”
“Remember, I’m heading out this morning.” I gathered my computer and purse.
“Where are you going again?”
“I’m meeting my writer’s group. You have an 11:00 appointment and we’re going out to dinner later.” My mind was sneaking back to my fantasy world when I absentmindedly poured the fated travel mug of coffee-colored dishwashing soap.
After my busy morning, I return home and prepare a pot of coffee. While waiting for it to brew, I muse. I shine in this marriage by dreaming up new meals and keeping track of our calendars. (I make sure it includes fun events.) Frank’s role is to make sure the light bill gets paid, to notice when the roof is leaking, and to see what needs cleaning.
I’d gotten a clue about Frank’s pragmatic nature early in our relationship when he gifted me with a shotgun cleaning kit. (To his defense, I did have a shotgun and had enjoyed pheasant and rabbit hunting.) But really!
Years after the gift, I questioned him about it. He confessed he thought it sent the romantic message that he wanted a long-term relationship with me. After all, he needed a shotgun cleaning kit, and if we married, he could use mine.
Dear readers, that is not the message I took away from that gift.
My friend Liisa jokes that early in her marriage, she expected her husband John to be the fixer, and he expected her to be the cleaner. (John’s mother was a meticulous cleaner.) When the house needed vacuuming, or the bathroom needed attention, he pointed it out. When their sink leaked, Liisa expected John to know how to repair it. When a couple turns of the wrench didn’t fix it, he became frustrated and wanted to call a plumber. Liisa took the time to figure it out. Liisa jokes it took them years to work out that John should clean and she should repair.
If you examine marriages of people you know, you’ll likely find that mates work to balance each other out. Maybe you know a couple where one partner looks at life rationally and the other is more emotional. One might be an introvert; the other a people-person. One might be a saver; the other a spender. One might be a morning person willing to make the family breakfast; the other might be a night owl, able to stay up and make sure the teens keep their curfew. One might be anxious; the other calming. One might warn of why something isn’t possible whereas their partner can see opportunities in a hopeful light.
Why are we attracted to people different from us? Lauren Korshak, a therapist, former matchmaker, and author of The Mindful Relationship told MindBodyGreen, https://bit.ly/3QpZTOF, "People are often attracted to qualities that are either lacking or less prominent in themselves.” For example, if you're a dreamer, you might be attracted to someone who doesn’t have their head in the clouds and does things like remember to clean the coffee pot.
I sip my freshly brewed cup of dark roast. It really does taste better with the cleaner pot. I should show Frank my appreciation. Maybe I’ll give him something. I grin.
Hunting season is upon us. I’ll regift him with something practical. I have the perfect present in mind.