Thursday, January 4, 2007

A wake-up call

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.

25 comments:

ChaosMoon said...

It's funny that I should read this now. There was no argument that ensued, but in the brief period of time that I was in the shower this morning, my mom called the house phone, called my cell phone, and sent me an email. When I called her, which was as soon as I was out of the shower, the first thing out of her mouth was "Are you ok?" Yeah, ma. I was just in the shower for cripes sake. God forbid I didn't get her call for a couple hours. She'd call in the National Guard!

Anonymous said...

Same thing would happen between my fiance and I. I would leave my cell phone in the other room and go about my daily business. When I see that i have 3+ missed calls, I know I'm in trouble!

Kristin said...

I don't know how you do. My cell phone is practically stapled to me. I feel so naked without it and by without it and I mean without it right next to me where I can see and hear it at all times.

Anonymous said...

I suppose its sort of a comment on the times we live in that not having your cell-phone with you at all times is enough to cause fights...

Candi said...

I can identify. Maybe not QUITE to that extreme but I'm really bad about not answering my phone.

Miriam said...

This made me think- I am TERRIBLE about answering my phone and returning calls. I'm going to try to be better because I always get frustrated when other people don't answer their phone or call me back.

Mis said...

I have always had a tough time keeping my cell phone close to me and not shoving it into my purse where I can't hear it too. My boyfriend gets irritated with me when I don't answer my phone especially since I never have a better reason than "I couldn't hear it." But now that he's been deployed to Iraq and I missed the first phone call from him because my cell was buried deep in my purse... I've learned my lesson. Now it's practically glued to my hand.

Rachel said...

I can understand your frustration as well as Jerry’s. Often times, my boyfriend doesn't have the best reception, (we live in a little town that doesn't believe in cell phone towers) so if I am trying to get a hold of him, I can't always reach him. Although, if your cell phone is what you are using as your landline and you don't want to have to spend that extra money; I would make it my commitment to have my phone within earshot at all times. I know it might sound silly to do that, but how awful would you feel if Jerry, or anyone for that matter, had a serious emergency and you never answered that call. I know that I would feel horrible for missing that call and that would be reason enough for me to be sure to have my phone with me at all times.
I just recently moved into my own apartment and decided to wait to get a landline, so I am also using my cell phone. Granted my apartment isn’t nearly the size of your house, but I do try to keep my phone somewhere that I can always hear it. There are also times that I take it with me into the bathroom if I am taking my shower. Just because I have it with me, doesn’t mean that I have to answer it, but if someone is calling me multiple times in a row, then I know that it must be something urgent.
I hope you can understand where Jerry might be coming from and prevent a silly disagreement like this again. Life is to short to let something like this "upset" you.

Janice said...

Aww that's really sad. I'm sorry that you had to fight over that and I hope everything works out, which I'm sure it will. It's unfortunate to have to pay for land lines when you have a cell, but sometimes it's needed. ;)

nothingbeast said...

I barely get or make any calls from my land line.... but I can't imagine not having one. There are some things my phone will work on that I would never use my Cell phone on. But then... my Cell phone is only for emergencies.

amr said...

assuming you have a high speed internet connection, you should look into vonage or an alternate internet phone solution...it could end up being cheaper than the regular phone company.

The Plainsman said...

Every building should have a functiong land line as a safety issue. But reliable landlines are also big plus with those of us who, like you, think and function quite well without a cell surgically attached to our head 24/7. Add that into a marriage, yeah, a good move to get one! Plus landlines work during many disasters that can wipe out cells, too, so having both is good insurance.

Celina said...

Marriage takes work and compromise at times. You two have such a great relationship I know you will find a happy medium. He is probably worrying about you more than anything else when he can't reach you.

Suzy said...

I think I'm the only one that identifies with the "I'm on the couch at 2am". Bud is NEVER the coucher in an argument.
I can see both sides of this b/c I've been on both sides. Bud and I live in a small town, and I work in a neighboring town that's basically in a bowl. So unless he calls me at work, its no use for me even to have my cell on. I have made it a habit to take it with me and have it charged when I venture out of our small town bubble and into KC, but even then I have to consiously remind myself to take it with me and turn it on. On the flip side, he doesn't move w/out his cell, and yet there are still times when I can't get ahold of him and it worries me.
I know that Bud has his cell phone through Sprint and that is also who we have our long distance through, so it just goes on one bill. There is a little bill from the local phone co, then the cell/long-d bill.
This is just a bump, and hopefully an easy fix.
Btw...loved the Toby-cheese story. About a week ago I was making dinner and I had made fettucine noodles and set them to the side, walked away for a moment, heard a clank, and walked in to Leroy who had downed practically all of them. The things we allow from our pets!
I really love your new site!

portrait_of_a_lady_777 said...

I can't believe that this is such a big issue for you too. My boyfriend is driven crazy by the fact that I leave my phone on vibrate so I won't forget to turn it off for class. It's such a huge issue for him, and he's so good about answering his that I take it for granted. I drive him crazy when I don't answer, and I have to be really careful about it because it seems like no big deal to me, but it's so important to him.

Idinzel said...

The ex and I had an issue such as this. He went to a friend's party without me which was out in the middle of nowhere Minnesota, and of course there was way too much alcohol and it was at a hotel. I couldn't get a hold of him for 14 hours and I went from freaking out that he had got alcohol poisoning to thinking he got arrested to even worse. I've been on Jerry's end of things and it IS nerve wrecking when you can't get a hold of someone who you should be able to normally.

Tabitha said...

Check with your phone company about the most basic phone service. You'll have to be firm that you don't need any calling packages, or long distance or snazzy calling features. You should be able to get a dialtone for under $15/month. You'll then pay per call, so don't use it for regular chatting, just when your cell is MIA.

I have experienced both the forgetfulness about where I put my cell and the irritation when I can't reach my own husband. Since I also carry another cell for work, there's an extra option to try and reach me, but I feel like I have a long supply checklist everytime I leave home.

Nutkin's Ho said...

I've definitely been on both sides.

I don't have the best hearing, but I've trained myself to recognize my ringtone from anywhere on the same floor of a building & though as many as 150 people shouting. You should've seen the reaction when I jumped & sprinted to the other side of a ballroom to answer my phone while leading frosh students in a game this Sept. Classic! :)

Landlines are also useful safety & for giving out sensitive info that you don't want to even slightly worry about people catching on a scanner. (At least this is what I've always been taught.)

Rav said...

I can so very relate.

My husband has no problem with being mad and not caring about how i feel about issues we have, or why i dont answer my cell phone alot of times.

Its sad, but I've become a real good poster child for detatchment lately..

Sometimes, I dont even want to answer the landline when i see his work number on the caller ID...

Hope you all work this out.
The feeling when its not worked out is a real void .

Corbow said...

For us, the landline is our primary phone and our cells are just for emergencies or occasional use ("Honey, I'm in the grocery store--are we low on bread?"). I've thought about giving up the landline, but I like it.

Mia said...

IT is quite inconvenient when you try to get a hold of someone and they won't answer their phone because they don't have it (*cough*my sister), but I think installing a landline is a good idea. And in any case, you could have your phone forward your calls to your house so you wouldn't have to worry about your cell until you left home!

Sandra Dee said...

I can completely relate. I have a few friends who don't ever answer their phone, and it makes me feel a bit unwanted when they either don't answer or never call back.

I hope you are able to work everthing out with Jerry!

oneka said...

I'm often the same way with my cell phone(s). I have my work cell as my primary phone at the moment. Plus I've got my personal number as well. The thing is that I ignore most of the calls off office hours. Also, I usually have my cell on silent, beep or vibrate mode that I don't even hear it half of the time.

Nevertheless, I understand both of yours frustration. Because I'd be totally bummed if I missed an important call because of my cell phone ignorance -- or someone else ignored my calls. Though I was wondering would it hurt for you to learn to have your cell more available? It'd be small price to pay to save those $360 -- say, to buy shoes, for example. Just a thought... ;-)

Tina said...

Get the landline. Cell phones, like satellite, do not always work during severe weather and other disaster- like scenarios. If cost is a concern look into vonage or also your internet service. A lot of times it can be bundled for a discount.

Michael said...

You should take some of my girlfriends cell phone obsession, it'd balance out.

She never leaves her fuckin cell phone alive and is so anal about it. She ticks me off with that freakin cell phone all the time.

With her over cellphone holding, and your under.. you can have a little of hers, and you both can become normal cellphone wielders.