Love Your Spouse: Part Four

A momentous change took place in the Donald-Smith-Gillentine Inc. corporate household recently. Sure, Jim and I have been living together since early 2012, married for 1.75 years and counting. But today, I changed the outgoing message on our house voicemail.

Oh, shut up. My color-coded, multi-categorical to-do list eventually gets done.

It came to my attention recently that the house phone's voicemail was full. That's probably because no one ever answers it or pays attention to it. So why do we have one? Let's face it: everybody wants a number for you, right? When you buy stuff at Walgreens and you can't find that silly keyring stub they gave you for the rewards program, you just need to put in your phone number. But you don't put in your cell, unless you're crazy. They'll text you into insanity.

So we have a landline to stave off the silliness. Also, in case of emergencies. Boy only got a cell phone about a year and a half ago, and I felt better knowing that there was a phone in the house regardless of anyone forgetting to charge his cell.

For all this time, we've been living in a house with a phone that answers, "Hello, you've reached Elizabeth Donald. Please leave a message and I'll get right back to you."

Of course I didn't have Boy's name on it. He's a kid. Who would be calling him? My number's always been publicly listed under my own name in case there were people who wanted to call me with private info and were afraid to call the newsroom.

(As if we had caller ID in the old bureau. Hell, we were still on the "pink paper message slip from the secretaries" system when I started there...)

But that means poor Jim was kind of a nonperson. You've reached Elizabeth Donald! (Other people might live here too.) For some reason, I never got around to updating it.

So I'm giggling a bit at this last (?) step of fully integrating our lives together. We've done all the big stuff, you know. Insurance and bank accounts and pensions, oh my. Color-coded camping supplies - green for him, blue for me, red for Boy. Books and movies all catalogued - though he stubbornly refuses to ditch DVDs that I already own because sure we need two copies of Superman II: Donner Party because what nerd household doesn't?

I teased him that he's clearly hedging his bets against having to re-buy those movies if this whole marriage thing doesn't work out, while he insists it's just because he paid good money for them (like I got mine free). Of course, I've also threatened to sell his super-rare Japanese-cut Godzilla DVDs on eBay, and yet he doesn't divorce me. (It might have been a near thing when I said, "You know Godzilla isn't real, right?" Ooooh, the look I got.)

I never thought I could actually live with someone again. When I was a single mom, I was dedicated to sole possession of the remote control and living my life without clearing each decision with a committee. I knew I was too independent, too headstrong, maybe a touch too stubborn - but just a touch! - to live with anyone, not romantically, not even with a roommate.

That's one of the reasons why Jim lived in his own place when he first moved up to St. Louis. And why we lived together for two and a half years before we actually married. Love may be as grand as the poets say, but living together means being able to rationally discuss the bathmat left on the bathroom floor AGAIN.

We make a good partnership, and sometimes I think that is almost as important as being in love. We work together on our various entrepreneurial projects and support each other in our goals. We do things together, both fun and tiresome, and while I'd never pretend we don't squabble, we manage to live together in mostly-harmony.

It's one of the biggest surprises he's given me, this cohabitation without discomfort.


He rolls the toothpaste tub neatly into a curl, while I mangle it from the center (often on purpose, because it annoys him).

I maintain that macaroni and cheese is an entree; he firmly believes it to be a side dish to some form of meat.

He's a snuggler who steals the covers* and simultaneously throws them off himself; I am a sprawler who can't sleep unless my feet (at least) are covered by blankets.

He is horrified and repulsed by people drinking out of the milk jug; I.... er, sometimes save us all some dishes by skipping the cup. But not anymore. Because it horrifies him.

I throw the groceries into the bags at Aldi in whatever order I please within reason; he carefully "builds the bag" and insists on designing our grocery carrying himself.

He generally likes all the same movies I like: horror, science fiction, thrillers, the occasional drama; the reverse is not often true, as he extols the virtues of Destroy All Monsters! and Godzilla vs. the Giant Rose Thing You Can't Find in the U.S. Also Jerry Lewis. And ventriloquism. Not necessarily at the same time.

I am one of those people who simply cannot stand mouth noises; he chews rather noisily since he had to have several teeth removed and insurance won't pay for a denture.

He can literally fall asleep within 30 seconds, as documented by science! when he had a sleep study done; I am a restless mild insomniac who wakes up at least twice a night and must wear earplugs to sleep at all, even when sleeping alone.

Ten years spent on loading docks and stocking shelves means he cannot help but straighten displays of canned goods in a grocery store; I like to move the peas into the carrots section just to watch him stomp over and fix it. Tee hee.

I have a tendency to use a 25c word when a 10c word might do; he installed a dictionary app on his phone and insists I provide multiple synonyms when I use words slightly outside of the common vernacular.

Neither one of us gives a damn which way the toilet paper goes. So we've got that going for us.

And of course, I make perfect sense and he is frequently incomprehensible to me.

How does this tent go together again?

But that's marriage.

*As quoted once on Facebook: I have photographic proof of the identity of the Covers Thief in our household.