Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bye-bye, birdie

At lunch a few weeks ago, a new colleague was telling me about a book she was reading on divorce. Apparently, one of the things the marriage counselor/author found was that there was generally one simple little thing that festered in a relationship, a thing that somehow became the deal-breaker. Such as, one partner wanting to travel and explore, and the other just wanting to be a home-body and never go anywhere. As time passed, the traveling partner began to feel the confinement unbearable and from there, the whole thing would unravel. Strangely, post break-up, the home-body partner would suddenly begin traveling the world in a way that would rankle the ex even more. I don't know the name of the book. Not even sure I'm repeating this correctly, but then again, by this time it's third-hand.

The point is that there's an "If Only You Would" kind of thing that's happening, as in, If only you would travel with me, that can become the make-or-break. And apparently, asking this question of your partner, inquiring if there's something really important that your beloved wants and is not getting, can lead to a stronger relationship, provided it's something you're prepared to give. Interesting!

So this new colleague, when prompted by nosy you-know-who, said that her husband would probably say that in their case, the straw that would probably break the marriage-camel's back is her on-going resistance to cooking dinner every night. She works full-time, just doesn't have the inclination, just doesn't want to -- and it's something that matters to him. In her case (more nosy questions from me), the thing that would probably be the deal-breaker is his continued smoking and drinking, despite radical bypass surgery and near-death experience. Pretty serious stuff, right?

Naturally, because we were about to go away for the weekend, I stored this question up as potential excellent fodder for the road-trip, something deep we could delve into while wiling away the miles.

And naturally, with some trepidation. Because who knows what can of worms (or whoop-ass) I'd be opening with that question: my temper, my cleaning- and perfection-mania before people come over, my periodic total losses of my shit.

Truth is I can't think of a single deal-breaker with Joe. He's perfect. Honestly. Makes me laugh, he's foxy, driven, creative, loving, sweet, a good person through and through. Perfect. Truly.

But there we were, driving to his training camp in Santa Rosa, so I told the story and popped the question. And waited.

After a pause, he said, "the only thing I can think of is that damn bird shirt of yours. That's the ugliest thing you own, it looks terrible on you, and I hate it."

I was stunned.

Of all my flaws and foibles, the only thing he could think of as a deal-breaker was a shirt? My first response was pheeeeeeeew, I got off so easy on that one. Because seriously, I have some bad habits.

But then I realized, with a little sadness, that he was talking about a beloved blouse purchased at Anthropologie last year with birthday money, a blouse I always get compliments on (from other women, I realize), but a blouse I love.


If he hates it so much and thinks it looks that bad, I don't have a problem parting with it. Is that weird or weak or lame? Whatever, I don't care. If he thinks it looks bad, then that's enough for me.

Because really, when all is said and done, I couldn't care less about the shirt. And maybe now I can make him get rid of that sweatshirt I hate, or that particularly ugly old pair of pants.



Meg said...

This is my favorite post of yours. ever. made me think and made me smile. Thank you!

Ariane said...

Thanks, Meg! So glad to hear it!!

Katherine said...

Lovely post as always! But I couldn't help but think about the "Fever Inside" shirt story when I read this ;)Love you!