I'm pretty sure this goes without saying, but every marriage is different. While I'm pretty sure that the great majority of them follow the same basic rules of marriage, the details all depend on the individuals. Things that David or I do might cause the next World War in another marriage. We pick our battles, for the most part. We find those things that we care about and we fight for them....or bottle them up and save them for later. (That just so happens to be my specialty!) Sometimes our spouse/significant other can do something that we had no idea would piss us off until it does.
David and I have had quite the 'learning experience' in the past couple of weeks. We decided to buy a new washer and dryer. Now, being the person who does 100% of the laundry 100% of the time, I wanted to be able to pick out the new ones. I figured it would take us a few weeks to really do our research, shop around, and get a decent deal. After a bit of talking, we both knew we wanted to get a front-loading washer. Relying on a well for water and living in a place where water is not exactly found in abundance, we were ecstatic to find out how little water the new gadgets really use. Of course it would be nice to have all the bells and whistles that come with the new contraptions, but water and energy efficiency were the initial draw for us. The price was a bit of a drawback, but you get what you pay for...if you do your homework.
We officially decided on a Wednesday that we would actively begin shopping for them. Now, our washer and dryer were still functional. They had their quirks and all, but working around those quirks just became a part of my daily routine. I guess you can say that I felt no real pressure to buy anything RIGHT NOW. I wanted to take my time, ask around, check out the displays in the stores, open and close the doors and push all the buttons...you know, have fun with it!
And then there's David.
David is so much more of the 'NOW' mentality than I am. I am definitely a thinker and David is definitely a doer. Evidently, that Wednesday night was rather sleepless for poor David. His mind was racing as he figured out the best game plan for making a big purchase like this one. I had planned to spend a bit of that Thursday just doing some online browsing. You can learn a lot about a product if you visit enough sites, read enough reviews. David ended up at a store after work and found a deal that he just couldn't pass up. He called me, had me see what I could find online about this particular washer and dryer set, and made a deal with the salesguy that he just KNEW he would never be able to make again. The whole concept of shopping for big ticket items stresses him out and he needed it to be done now.
And David bought that set right there on the spot, without me being able to so much as push a button or open and close the doors. I never told him "Yes. These are perfect! Buy them." but I also never told him "NO." And I didn't realize how much it would bother me until it did. It really bothered me that I didn't feel like I was the one who picked out the new washer and dryer. I had it in my head that I would do most of the shopping, find what I wanted and, if it was something that David agreed on, then we would buy them.
See, that's the problem with forming ideas about how things should be when you have to factor in another person's ideas and agenda and try to mesh them with your own. Now, we all know those married couples where someone very obviously 'wears the pants' in the relationship. David and I are not like that. (At least, I don't think we are!) I call the shots about certain things, he calls the shots about other things. The mutual decisions are where it can get tricky. Neither of us wears those pants, but we each wear a leg. Watching us muddle through a situation must be like watching a really ugly three-legged race. It can't be pretty, with all the stumbling and finger-pointing that occurs on the way to the finish line. But we always seem to finish, and finishing means winning. In the end, the race was only with ourselves, anyway.
So, after much back and forth between us, we now have a washer and dryer that we like. (Well, they've been here for less than 24 hours, but they do everything we ask of them and they even play a little tune when they have finished!) They are the ones he chose, but a trip to the store to play with the buttons and open and close the doors changed my perspective. I do like them. I would probably have even picked them out myself, if I'd had the chance! (Okay, so I'm still working on the 'letting go' part a bit!) Thanks to David, I even got to paint the laundry room before the new ones came. He was a huge help there! I would probably still be painting in there had he not helped! (And I did get to pick the paint!) Plus, he found another place who sold it cheaper and got them to match the price and beat it by 10%. We ended up getting a price that seemed otherwise unheard of for this particular model. I don't know how he does it!
In talking to other women, I can get anything from "I would be so pissed" to "I could care less, as long as they work!" Like I said, the rules are different in every marriage. And those rules will continue to change and evolve as we do. The things we care about today may not be worth taking a stand for tomorrow, so choose your battles wisely. (I'm working on that one too!)