Monday, August 26, 2013

How to be the most annoying spouse ever. A step by step guide.

I hate the new vacuum.

We tried to buy a new vacuum last spring, and I couldn't decide which one to get. This indecisiveness is a very common occurrence and definitely not limited to vacuum purchases.

I am pretty sure it also earns me the award for most annoying spouse ever.

I really, really want to be the person who just says "Whatever you think/want/decide. dear." with a big sincere smile. But it just doesn't go down that way. First, I have to study all of the features. And then, there is the price shopping, consumer reviews, warranty information, etc. And then even after all of that careful deliberation, sometimes I *still* end up returning the item or exchanging it for something else.

I annoy myself.

But back to the vacuum. Sam went out and bought a vacuum while I was away this summer, which was a bold move on his part. I applaud him for that. However, because I hate the vacuum he purchased, the applause is more of a slow clap with a clenched jaw and a Clint Eastwood stare.

Today I needed to vacuum our bedroom because, sidebar, Sam doesn't actually use the vacuum that often. And I can't get it out of the closet.
There are several reasons for this, not all of them the vacuum's fault, so I didn't beat it with a hammer like I was tempted to do. But fuck, it is really hard not to be angry right now.

Do you remember the movie "When Harry Met Sally"? Do you remember the scene when their 2 best friends moved in together and he had that hideous wagon wheel coffee table, and suddenly that table was the cause of everything that was wrong with the world and their relationship at that moment, and it got dragged to the curb in order for their romance to continue?

I am right there with this vacuum cleaner. This vacuum cleaner is the symbol of everything that is wrong.

My life these days is like an ill-fitting shirt. It's just not quite long enough, it has an itchy tag that is bothering me, and it has overly-complicated washing instructions that are pissing me off every time I try to wash it.

I love my husband. I love my life. I love that he went and bought a vacuum cleaner knowing full-well that there was a 50/50 chance I would hate it.

What I do not love is the near-constant feeling of aggravation I live with. This vacuum cleaner is just the tip of the iceberg, and my life is on a Titanic-like collision course, where it is every man for himself. It feels like PMS, but it NEVER GOES AWAY. The response to this vacuum is just a symptom of the inner turmoil I am wrestling. What it boils down to is that because I am so unsettled, everything feels wrong all the time.

The big question here is: is it me? Or everyone else on the planet?
And of course, it's everyone else. Duh. (I'm kidding. It's me. I get it.)

So the first step is to identify my triggers. The second step is to find a healthier way to react to them.
And so I give you:
How to be annoying in 5 easy steps, and how to hang on to your last shreds of sanity when you are annoyed.

1. Asking unnecessary questions.
This can be anything from "Mom? MOM? I just wanted to know where you were."
"What's for dinner?" or "Where are my ____?" (pants, shoes, keys, phone, etc)
Now of course, the challenge here is to filter out necessary from unnecessary. This is even more pressing when the person you want to ask is at work, or driving, or otherwise occupied. Common sense is your first resort. Your last resort should be asking the person if it is okay to ask them a question. I fucking hate that.
Take a deep breath. If questions are coming via text, either turn off your phone, or tell them you cannot text and will be in touch later. When you don't want to wring their neck would be a good time. If questions are coming in person, stop whatever it is that you are doing and make eye contact. Answer their question and then explain that you cannot be disturbed for a while. Maybe set a Timer of Silence which I use to let the children know when the next time is they can ask me for another snack or to help them glue/write/spell/draw/read/color/fix something.

2. Not handling your own business.
If you use up the last of something, or if something is broken, or if you need something done or purchased, you should definitely take note of it. In writing. In a place that is easy to refer to - like a cellphone, for instance. But by all means, if you can just handle it yourself, you definitely should. Please do. If you are concerned that someone might take issue with you handling it yourself, please see above for guidance in terms of asking about it.
You want them to handle their shit, so you can't get all bitchy if they try to do that and then you don't like the results. Either quit complaining and take care of it yourself, or let them handle it. Stop being such a fucking martyr/control freak.

3. Passive Aggressive Bullshit and Excuses
This could mean doing a shitty job so that you are never asked to do it again, or it could mean earnestly doing something without thinking it through and then, when faced with the consequences, putting the burden of the responsibility on others to deal with the aftermath of your poor planning and lack of foresight.
Don't do this.
Also, don't pussy out and walk away in the middle of the conversation, or throw your hands up in despair and complain that everything you do is wrong so why should you bother. You have to talk this shit out, or it will keep happening.
Dealing with this is exactly why you feel crazy, right? So you have a choice: either try to explain - clearly - what you want/need and why and then hold them accountable all the way through (which could absolutely take more time than doing it yourself) or find some other way that they can contribute, and take care of this shit yourself. Because is it worth the aggravation to show someone else how to (for example) clean a bathroom properly? Possibly not.

4. Doing shit no one asked you to do, and doing that shit wrong.
This can range from buying gifts that you like with no concern for whether the recipient will like them, to seeing something that needs doing and - in an attempt to help out - really fucking some shit up.
This is a tough one. Because in most cases, there is plenty of good intention - it is just terribly misdirected. And so, you must temper your response. This is where the phrase "They mean well" comes from. Because they did. Whatever they just did wrong, it will crush their spirit to hear that it has upset you in any way. This is where it is important to be gracious and kind. This is what being a rational grown up is all about. And it sucks. If you have to excuse yourself to pop a Xanax or smoke some weed before you can handle it, you go right ahead.

5. Just being a total idiot.
Being a total idiot.
I will be the first to raise my hand and say that I can be a total idiot sometimes. In general, I am a pretty smart chick, but I do some really dumb shit. And when you do something really dumb, man it can be embarrassing to admit it. AMIRIGHT? I try to reign that stupidity in as much as possible, but not everyone is that considerate. I have found that if I pay attention to the 4 rules above, I eliminate a lot of opportunities to play the moron card. I try to think things through, do what needs doing,  think of others, consider the timing, and not bother people with my dumb shit as much as possible. It's a 50/50 shot most days.
Sympathy. You gotta have sympathy for someone who truly cannot see the forest for all the damn trees. Sometimes, people just fuck up. Or they don't know what they are doing. Or they are just not paying attention. And cutting them some slack is incredibly difficult when you are working so hard to keep your shit together. But we all have to learn to give everyone a chance. A chance to be heard. A chance to try again. A chance to make it better. A chance to do it right. And for them to succeed they need information. Communication is key. Share your knowledge and insights, and let it benefit someone else. No point in re-inventing the wheel.

Even if it makes a kick-ass coffee table.

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