Debra and I are well-matched, thank goodness. I mean, I’d like to assume people always marry people who complement their skills but I know some folks who…let’s just say that’s patently untrue. In this case, planning and preparation are our particular matched set.
A lot of chaos is coming our way in the next several weeks. We’re packing for a weeklong Thanksgiving trip. Friends are coming to stay while we’re away. Two weeks after we get home, my parents are moving in. I worry about these things in the moment. Well, actively worry anyway. They are always on the back burner stewing. I use a rock polisher example with my students. Once you have a task, it rumbles around in the back of your brain until a smooth idea comes out.
My wife prefers to sand down the rocks by hand. This is not to say she makes things more difficult, in fact, without her I’d be a disaster. Witness: had I not broken my leg right before a move to Brazil my mother wouldn’t have come to visit and I wouldn’t have actually packed before the trip. Also, more than once I’ve thought my plane trip was a day after it was scheduled and was bailed out at the last minute by someone who cared when I might leave or arrive.
I’m a conceptual thinker. My wife is an excellent doer but gets overwhelmed. For example, I am very good at envisioning how to fit a large number of things into a small space. She is very good at actually moving them there. I make exhaustive lists, my wife accomplishes two-thirds of them. I make confident proclamations about possibilities. She designs and delivers. She has been organizing our spare room and basement so that they don’t look like earthquake-damaged thrift shops (well, mostly) and I have been wandering around marking things like “sweep” on a list.
There is a lot to be done. Whole rooms of furniture have to shift. An entire three years of baby gear has to be sorted, gifted, and stored. The level of dirt we find acceptable for ourselves is not the level we impose on guests, etc. In the face of that, my wife freezes. In the face of that, I consider the time it will take to accomplish each task and make suggestions. Miraculously, things move like clockwork.
I really appreciate not being asked to carry load after load of baby clothes down to place in a teetering stack. I hope she appreciates not being asked to notice that the bathroom ceiling has to be cleaned. By the way, can someone tell me how my daughter who hates baths managed to splash orange soap all the way up there? I am sure that by the time we leave for the shore, by the time our friends arrive, by the time my parents pull in the drive, everything will be in its place.
Partnership. It’s our marriage in a nutshell.