I know marriage, like all relationships, has its ups and downs, but usually I'm able to see the downs coming and can brace myself for the hard landing.
But Jerry and I had a disagreement last night that seemingly came out of nowhere. I felt completely caught off guard, and because of it, I found myself alone on the couch at 2 a.m. feeling very confused while trying to force myself to sleep.
That in itself was troubling. Jerry feels very strongly about the Never Go to Bed Angry Policy. But last night, for the first time ever, he allowed me to stomp away and didn't follow. And my pride and stubbornness wouldn't let me retreat.
From past experience, I've determined that most fights are evenly two-sided. Each person has some valid points, and when mixed in with all that built-up emotion, tension and exaggeration for emphasis, it takes a little time to hash it out. But after all the nasty words and maybe a few tears, you get to the core of the problem, finally see each other's point and agree to work on it.
But this fight wasn't two-sided. It was very clearly an issue I have to work on. And it's never good finding out that no matter how hard you try to cultivate your relationship, a simple bad habit might unknowingly be triggering the growth of a deep-seeded frustration you don't even know is there.
When I think about what we were arguing over, it seems so trivial and silly. And perhaps that's the whole problem; I'm taking it too lightly.
Most of my friends, family and coworkers know that I'm horrible with my cell phone. Sometimes its buried so deep in my cavernous purse that I don't even hear it ring. Other times I accidentally leave it on vibrate mode for days without even knowing it. But the end result is always the same: I rarely answer on the first ring, or call, or ever.
To top it off, the problem is exacerbated in our huge house. If I'm on the second floor and my phone is downstairs in the kitchen, I won't hear it. Then there are days like yesterday where I grab a coat out of my closet when I'm getting ready to leave the house, realize it's a little heavier than usual and surprisingly discover my phone has been in the right pocket since the night before. I laughed and thanked my good fortune for deciding to wear that coat two days in a row.
But meanwhile Jerry wasn't laughing. He had been trying to get in touch with me all afternoon about his monthly work schedule. When each of us only get one weekend off a month, we work really hard to ensure that those weekends match up. And in order to do that, he needed to know my schedule. But, as usual, I wasn't answering my phone.
And this wasn't the first time. Once Jerry had something so pressing to talk to me about that he actually called one of our friends who lives a few blocks away and asked him to walk over to tell me to call my husband. I was simply painting the kitchen and had the music cranked up. But I did feel like a complete asshole.
To solve the problem, Jerry has been demanding for months that we get a landline. But because we already have an outrageous cell bill, I just couldn't justify spending another $360 a year to put a line in the house, too.
Until last night, anyway.
Now Jerry has successfully enabled me to see where he's coming from. I would be hurt and angry and more than a little frustrated if he didn't answer when I called. Especially if it was something important.
So maybe spending another 30 bucks a month for a little piece of mind is worth it. I guess I needed a wake-up call.