Waving the white flag
Last night we bought an easel off Ebay, two days before we’d bought a coffee grinder. Nothing particularly unusual about these purchases apart from the fact that they occurred between the hours of midnight and 2am. I woke up on Sunday morning with the vague recollection that we’d bought something random online the night before. Was I dreaming? Apparently not, as my inbox proudly proclaimed that I was the unlikely owner of a Morphy Richards ground coffee maker.
‘Maybe we should get a printer?’ I suggested… ‘Oh’ was the laconic response ‘we can do that when we get down there’. Of course we can, how could I have been so silly, obviously it’s chronically vital that we get the easel now, but the printer can wait. And so it goes on… Yesterday we agreed on about three things in a row and I commented on the unusual occurrence of this to be told that it’s quite common we agree… of course it is (NOT).
The phrase ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ has never been more pertinent, although in this case it’s more like ‘one man’s priority is another man’s frivolity’. While I am not party to what’s going on in Danny’s head (probably not nearly as much as I think there is) I can imagine that he is feeling roughly the same why. ‘Why is she bugging me about a printer? (eyeball roll) We’ve advertised an easel on the website so we better buy it sharpish… and you can pick up printers anywhere’.
As luck would have it, it seems to be the ants tripping us up – not the elephants. After all, we had absolutely no problem picking out £1400’s worth of curtain materials, the carpets and paint colours were chosen pretty quickly yet hours of time have been expended on debates about the size and weight of duvet covers, whether to buy a coffee grinder, an easel or a printer first, or whether we are going to plug in the dishwasher or practice cooking bacon on the griddle before leaving to go back to London. Big problems, right? Really the debate is the order in which we do things, rather than the things we actually do. After all we have to buy everything eventually, so really, what does it matter?
Both Danny and I have fixed ideas about how to do things, having run our own teams and had the autonomy to do it ‘our’ way. It’s therefore inevitable that bringing two people like that into a job, where both have equal responsibility and power, is going to have its teething problems.
The great thing is that we have very complementary skills, the not-so-great thing is that I want to be able to do everything: I not only want to be able to do what I’m good at, I want to be able to do what he’s good at, and – if I had it my way – what our builder (with 14 years experience) is good at. Learning to sit back and say “Yes, that sounds like a good idea, and while that’s not the way I’d do it, it’s absolutely fine and equally valid” is TOUGH.
I suppose that arguing about the size of duvets is kind of pointless as long as we both agree that there should be duvets. What does it really matter if they’re king size or doubles? And what does it really matter if we buy off white or white paint for the bathroom walls?
In hindsight, and without the white hot flame of needing to be right all the time clouding my judgment or perspective, I can think through to the worst case scenario (i.e. I concede to Danny) and realise that it would still all be absolutely fine. We both have taste, we both understand the brand, we both know how to decorate a bedroom, and we are both putting the guests’ needs first so – really – what’s the worst that could happen?
I’m embarrassed to admit however that in the heat of the moment my only priority is to be right, to get my own way, and to prove him wrong. I’m actually blushing at my childishness as I write this as I’m sure the next 6 weeks will be a far more efficient if I just let go of the little things and stopped trying to control everything he does, and the order in which he does it. It would certainly save the amount of time I spend dreaming up ways to convince him that I’m right.
Maybe we should both keep a notebook so when confronted by a statement like ‘you never agree with me’ we would be able to check the evidence and either accept or refute the accusation – then again, maybe that would compound the problem. I can imagine a scenario where, following a heated debate, Danny and I both take out our notebooks and start scribbling furiously while glaring at each other.
I guess, if I was feeling particularly benevolent, I could look upon this as a way in which to practice letting go: A natural ‘controller’ I must admit to thinking that it’s my way or the highway and in this situation, where neither of us could do without the other and both of us bring great skills and assets to the table, that seems a rather hindering attitude to adopt.
So… next time Danny wants to open up a box that arrived in the post before looking at spreadsheets of linen prices, or order random things on Ebay before examining the pros and cons of various printers, I will do my best to think sweet, happy thoughts, recall this blog about it all getting done eventually, and remind myself that this, after all, is the reason I love him.