Yesterday, my wife Carol and I had a little… oh, what’s that word for an affectionate disagreement? No, not a “spat.” Ah, now I remember: we had a shouting match.
A number of compounding contretemps culminated in accusations of emotional blackmail and financial malfeasance, leading to the declaration that one of us should seek alternate living arrangements. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself.
The morning began routinely: as Carol showered to get ready for work, I came downstairs to start the coffee and feed the cats. I stepped into the kitchen and promptly slipped on a hairball, sending me ass over teakettle. As I mentally cursed the cats while recovering, I then discovered the carafe still had last night’s cold, leftover after-dinner coffee in it. I prepared some hot, soapy water to wash the container and then heard a shriek from the bathroom, indicating Carol’s reaction to the sudden change in shower temperature.
Carol emerged dripping from the bathroom to give me a what-for regarding the bathing kerfuffle. I apologized, offering as explanation that I had to wash the coffee pot because “someone else” hadn’t bothered to do so; also, I was perhaps slightly addled due to almost suffering a serious injury coming off the steps. Her response was two-fold: 1) “I’m not the only one capable of cleaning up in the kitchen,” and 2) “I guess you slipped on that hairball.”
I processed her statements respectfully for two or three nanoseconds before offering my rebuttal: 1) “Aren’t you supposed to do the dishes if I make dinner?” and 2) “If you knew the hairball was there, why the hell didn’t you clean it up?”
I now sensed tension, realizing I had broken a cardinal rule of interpersonal communication by utilizing “you” versus “I” statements, so I recalibrated: “I feel upset when I encounter random cat regurgitation that you knew about but chose not to ameliorate because that means I could slip and sprain something or perhaps even freakishly DIE.”
I won’t quote Carol’s reply verbatim; suffice to say it was: 1) profane, 2) dismissive of my feelings (emotional blackmail), and 3) the reason why she would have to buy lunch in the commissary, since I had no intention of now packing a lunch for her (financial malfeasance). Her final words: “It might be better if you’re not here when I get home this evening (alternate living arrangements).”
But fear not; we managed to resolve our differences that evening in a loving and respectful manner, while also negotiating an equitable way to handle kitchen clean-up and future hairball situations. I don’t mind the dishpan hands but, honestly – I miss the cats.