The key to marital bliss? Arguing only about important things

My husband and I would never waste our energy squabbling about trivial matters.

I know several couples whose marital spats border on the absurd: Should they allow their daughter to invite 85 "best friends" to her sweet 16 party? Would it be better to anchor the new 60-inch flat-screen TV to the wall or perch it on an oversize television cart? Do they (who haven't even turned 50 yet) want to spend their golden years in Palm Springs or Palm Beach?

My husband and I would never waste our energy squabbling about such trivia.

Our conflicts revolve around matters of real importance:

Instead of eating blue cheese omelets every Sunday morning, is it OK to break the mold (pun intended) and have waffles and bacon once in a while?

Can a woman who believes that packaging leftovers in no-burn freezer bags constitutes planning for the future live contentedly with a man who, for his third Christmas, asked for a piggy bank?

Are we terminally incompatible because, once the first crocus has poked its head out from the postwinter soil, I want to dine alfresco every day (even if we're in the midst of the worst mosquito infestation in 15 years), whereas my husband believes that, except for the occasional barbecue, the only people who should regularly eat outdoors are those poor folks who can't afford a roof over their heads?

Why does my husband, when he promises to fix the light switch or gas jet "soon," believe that he's keeping his word if it's done sometime between fall and Valentine's Day?

And why does he get so cranky when, as we prepare to go out, I say I'll be ready in a second, and 20 minutes later I'm still searching for my gold earrings, blow-drying my hair, feeding the cat, changing my black pants because there's cat hair all over them, and closing the windows – in case there's a monsoon while we're at a two-hour dinner party? How come his version of "soon" can encompass weeks or even months, whereas my version of "soon" is supposed to mean two minutes or less?

I've been accused of provoking the majority of our arguments. This may, in fact, be true, since I'm living with someone who, although college educated and extremely smart, occasionally acts as if his IQ is lower than his golf score, which I imagine would try any woman's patience.

The things that he doesn't understand astonish me. How could he not know that brown, beige, tan, and ecru are four different colors; that a wife who requests diamond earrings for their wedding anniversary is not likely to consider a shiny new toaster oven an acceptable substitute; and that asking why there's a dancing dust bunny convention in our living room is probably not going to be the prelude to a wildly romantic evening?

Sometimes we are equally perplexed by the other's perceptions. He is stunned, for example, when I start crying after reading a card he gives me, which proclaims, in three-inch letters, "To my favorite aunt on her birthday."

"I thought it had a beautiful design on the cover," he says, hurt by my lack of appreciation. "Do I have to read every single word of a card before I buy it?"

I am dumbstruck that he is not thrilled with my gift of a plush pink and purple chenille bathrobe. I tell him that it was reduced to $12.99.

"Did you stop to wonder why it was reduced to $12.99?" he snaps.

Clearly, our conflicts need to be resolved. Sometimes, unfortunately, this must be done at a less-than-opportune time, say, during the seventh game of the World Series. Such is life.

And once again, he doesn't get it. Which is more important – talking with the woman who cooks your meals (sometimes), scratches your back, and keeps you warm at night, or watching a bunch of guys running around on a dusty baseball field?

The correct answer is a no-brainer.

Don't you agree, honey?


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