We were due for a blowup. Primo has a temper and he overreacts to small things. I knew that when we got married. I also knew that he worked hard to control it and was far better than he used to be. I am not a fan of fighting or blowups or tempers. I don't get mad. I mean, I do get angry, but I do not blow up at people. That is not the way of the repressed northern and central European mutt. Although it's also not the way of Primo's British ancestors. Who knows? I do know that his father has a horrible temper that he - Sly - makes no effort to control. I have seen him in action. He is vicious and mean when he is angry and he doesn't care whom he hurts. I have to give Primo credit for trying hard not to be like his dad, but I wish he could be even better at controlling his reactions to things. You can't control how you feel, but you can control how you react.
So two or three times a year, Primo blows up about something stupid and insignificant, which ticks me off, because why waste energy on such small things? We always end up fighting about how we fight instead of the thing itself because the thing itself usually can be fixed very easily. I don't see the point in dissecting and picking at why something didn't happen the way Primo expected or wanted it to happen if it's easy to solve the problem. Primo maintains that we have to figure out how to prevent the problem from happening again, which I don't think is worth the effort when it only takes a short time to resolve the issue.
Here is how we approach problems.
1. Ask why anyone would do something so wrong.
2. Assign blame - whose fault was it?
3. Dissect the problem - why did the person at fault do it that way? Why? Why? WHY?
4. Person at fault - usually me - says something like, "I forgot" or "I wasn't paying attention," but that is usually not a good enough explanation, which ticks Primo off, which ticks me off, because WHY DOES IT MATTER?
5. Primo vents for at least 20 minutes while I am solving the problem.
6. I lose my patience completely and tell him to shut the heck up, the problem is solved.
7. Primo calms down and becomes very apologetic about being a jerk.
8. I tell him to stop apologizing already, it's over.
1. Acknowledge there is a problem.
2. Figure out how to fix it.
3. Fix it.
4. Done. Life goes on.
5. Yes, I will admit I am a lot more careless than Primo, but honestly, does it matter if the laundry is folded perfectly or the dishes are completely dry before being put in the cupboard? No! It does not!
Yesterday, I entered a list of emails into a spreadsheet for Primo. I did not enter the names associated with those emails because 1. it had been four hours since I had read the original email with all the details of what he wanted and 2. I hate data entry, so just wanted to be done with it already and 3. I knew he needed the emails for a campaign notice he wanted to send out today. I intended to enter the names and addresses this weekend.
It took me 30 minutes. I emailed the spreadsheet to him and done.
When he got home two hours later, he went upstairs to check his email. I heard a loud sigh, clomping across the office, and clomping down the stairs.
I know what that sigh means. It means he is rolling his eyes in annoyance at something.
He came into the bedroom. "You didn't enter the names!"
"Oh," I said. "So?"
"I need the names!"
"Yeah, I thought I would do the rest this weekend. You just need the emails, right?"
"No, I need the names, too. I have to upload it all into this email program."
I looked longingly at my book, Malla Nunn's latest. They had just found the second dead body. "Can't you just copy the emails and paste them in the 'to' line?"
"No! That's not how it works! How could you not enter the names? Was I not clear in my email?"
"I don't know," I answered. "But whatever. Get me the sign-up sheets and I'll do it now."
"But why?" he asked.
I shrugged. "I guess I forgot. Just get the sheets for me and I'll take care of it."
"I don't understand how you could not do it right!"
"Why does it matter? I'll fix it now. You'll have what you need."
Then we spent 20 minutes - I timed it - fighting about why he has to know exactly why something went wrong instead of JUST SOLVING THE PROBLEM. (Hint: He is a control freak engineer whose lizard brain takes over at times. Thank goodness he's not a drunk like his dad or I could never have married him. Twice a year of this balony I can handle. Every day? No way.) I won't bother to give you the blow by blow because we all have The Fight that we always have with our SO. If you don't fight at all, then I envy you.
In 30 minutes, I was done updating the spreadsheet. His shoulders sagged and he said, "I've been a jerk."
"No kidding," I said.
"But you don't pay attention to the details! You don't pay attention to the process!"
"Nope," I agreed. "I care more about the results. You are obsessed with the process so much that you lose sight of the objective."
"But how can you be so [whatever]?" And we were off to the races again as we had the same fight we always have when we fight, which is that he is a micromanaging, process-obsessed, control freak who procrastinates on everything whereas I get things done. I might not do them perfectly, but I don't care if I do them perfectly. Ninety five percent is good enough for me. He wants 100%. He never throws anything away because he is afraid of making a mistake and discarding something he needs. I point out that his 1992 employee manual from Apple is hardly likely ever to be relevant in his life again. He cares about tidy stacks of clutter, I care about a clean house free of clutter.
We fight because we have radically different approaches to problem solving and project doing and actually, to everything.
"Do you think your life would be better if you were married to someone more like you?" I asked.
"What do you mean?"
"What if you were married to someone as detail-focused as you, who procrastinated on everything, never threw anything away, who flew off the handle over such little things? Would your life be better?"
He grinned sheepishly. "I was married to someone like that."
"And how did that work for you?"
"Not very well," he admitted.
"I'm shocked," I said dryly. "Shocked that two procrastinating, cluttered, bad-tempered persons couldn't make it."