Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché:
My wife is a good person but she annoys me. Here’s one example. She is always doing her part to save the earth. This means following the “green” trends. Because cow farming is deforesting the earth she cooks with meat substitutes like such as tempeh. She replaces all the light bulbs with compact florescent ones that are more expensive, keep blowing out and can’t be thrown out due to the mercury in them. We have a ginormous pile of toxic dead bulbs in the garage now. Currently she is into making her own laundry detergent, which doesn’t work and is making our house smell like an old age home. This topic isn’t really up for discussion. She just tells me I don’t care about the environment. What I was wondering is, are all marriages like this? Aren’t we supposed to see eye to eye?
In many cultures there is an expectation of marital bliss. People get the idea that their partner should never annoy them. But people are annoying in general- they don’t think like you do or do what you would want them to. Why would a partner be any different?
I know a couple where the wife was seeing a therapist. The therapist asked her how the marriage was going. The wife said, “ I think we annoy each other.” The therapist said, “More than any other marriage?” Any couple that doesn’t annoy each other is playing roles or simply not discussing any negative issues. Marriages where people don’t annoy each other will not last. Couples who embrace their annoyance and find the humor in it will endure.
A good and humorous book on the joys of annoying spousal bliss is, You Say Tomato I Say Shut Up, by Annabelle Gurwitch.
Once you accept that you are both annoying individuals compromises can be found that satisfy both of you. You seem to appreciate your wife for who she is despite not liking or agreeing with what she does. This is the basis of compromise. I’d start by affirming that her efforts are important and valid- then mention that they don’t seem to be working in your particular situation. See if you can make them work for both of you.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: It could be worse- your wife could decide to embrace Breatharianism and refuse to prepare food any longer because she was convinced she could live on air and light. You may think I am making this up, but I’m serious. Dr. Brilliant is right- a couple without conflict is a couple following a script or sweeping the crap under a rug. But back to your wife…her intentions are good but she’s wearing horse blinders and is as irrational as any fundamentalist. It is not possible to question her, no matter how reasonable your arguments are. I have to wonder if she takes this attitude towards every opinion or belief she holds, or if she reserves her fanaticism for the Green Movement. If she is an unyielding and intolerant human, you are in for a lifetime of swallowing your own feelings. The resolution of conflict requires an effort towards understanding from both partners, not just one.