Originally published in Sunday's New Castle Courier-Times.
Some women complain that their husbands have no opinions when it comes to home decor. And their problem is?
When Mrs. Noah suggested a new wallcovering for her floatable abode, I imagine that Noah told her to go ahead and pick it out. Why rock the ark? he probably thought.
For most of our marriage, Brian has had what I consider a perfectly appropriate response when I ask for his preference in paint colors or carpeting textures. He says, “I don’t care, Honey. You decide.”
Now that he’s retired, however, Brian’s interest in all-things-home has taken a turn.
For the most part, this is good. I have no problem with his weekly vacuum-cleaning routine. He’s fond of showing me the canister containing the week’s collection of assorted lint and grime, similar to a cat bringing in a prize catch from the woods.
“Oh wow, Honey, that’s a lot of dirt,” I encourage. “Good job!”
I also don’t mind when he does laundry. “You do such a great job,” I tell him. I leave out the part where I hide my whites and delicates to do later on my own.
But his hands-on-household help has resulted in something to which I’m still trying to adjust: He has opinions on things; things he didn’t used to care about.
Recently I moved a large wreath from the bedroom to the living room. Before I could swap out something to replace the bare space in the bedroom, Brian swept in with his own offering: a circa 1980s print depicting an old-fashioned classroom. I must have bought it for his school office back in the day at one of the home-decor parties so popular then – and forgot about it. Then he retired and it returned home with him.
“I always liked that picture,” he said wistfully when he showed it off to me hanging in its new place of honor, no less than the first thing you see as you approach our bedroom.
I wanted to ask if he noticed that it was not only dated, but sun-faded, and inquire as to how the inside of the glass covering the print could have possibly gotten that peculiar odd blemish. But I didn’t. Instead, I closed my mouth and bit my tongue.
I’m also not a fan of the stuff he leaves on top of his dresser. Mine has only a jar filled with eucalyptus situated on a doily. I like the sparseness. He has a basket on his dresser that I put there as a hint to fill it with his dresser dressings. The idea is to round up all those vitamins, change, glasses cleaner, calendar, pen and other unrelated sundries and corral them in the basket.
He doesn’t see the point. I’ve even tried to move these things to the basket myself but that seemed to violate his personal space. He asked me to leave his belongings right where he left them and in exchange he'll do the same with mine.
Except, he generally leaves a T-shirt and pair of shorts on top of my dresser. Whaaaat?
He doesn’t like the pole lamp that I moved next to the bedroom recliner. I think it’s a huge upgrade from the low-light lamp on the table next to the chair.
I think his closet needs a makeover.
He doesn’t like the way I wear socks to bed only to kick them off in the night and leave them wadded at the foot of the bed.
True, we have our petty grievances.
Back when Oprah had a weekday talk show, whenever she had a counselor on the program, she seemed to always work in her viewpoint about relationships. Oprah would say that if a couple argues about “the socks,” it’s not really about “the socks.”
She’s right. It’s also about the pole lamp, the dresser clutter and the faded picture.
But then, marriage is also about knowing when to make allowances for each other’s preferences – and then carry on.
So we carry on. But I don’t think I’ll suggest any new decorating projects just now.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. She blogs twice a week and enjoys encouraging other women through programs for a variety of women's groups and organizations.