Gabe and I are in love. We snuggle sleepily in bed in the mornings, text sweet nothings to each other during the workday, and slow dance in our kitchen at night after the kids are in bed. We think similarly and are on the same side of many of the issues that plague partnerships: how we spend our money, what values we want to instill in our children and the correct way to hang toilet paper (over, and we’re right).
Despite that, we are currently enmeshed in five bitter, silent battles that, if we ever spoke of them, could end it all.
Battle 1: When Is The Recycling Full?
I believe the recycling is full when the contents come well above the top. Is it overflowing? Then it should be emptied.
Gabe is not so closed-minded. Based on the sculpture currently sitting in our garage, Gabe believes the recycling tub is full when empty milk jugs no longer balance precariously on top of Mt. ReduceReuse. Picture Jenga, but with plastics, cardboard and glass. If it topples over, then it’s full.
Battle 2: When Should A Phone Be Charged?
Gabe believes that a phone should be plugged in when it reaches, say, 25% of its battery life. He is a strong proponent of the overnight charge.
I play things a little more fast and loose. If the phone battery level is in single digits, I begin to think about where I last saw my charger. Overnight charging is hit or miss for me. Sometimes the phone ends up between the couch cushions or under the driver’s seat of the car overnight, making charging an impossibility.
A caveat to this battle: it is unspoken, but I occasionally receive snarky texts from my husband after sending him screenshots from my phone. I’d like to respond that he is MISSING THE POINT of the screenshot by focusing on my captured battery life, but I do not because Michelle Obama told me to go high.
Battle 3: When Is Food Too Old To Eat?
I believe that cooked food that has been in our fridge for less than a week is safe to eat. If it has been in the fridge for more than one week, I toss it. I shorten this timeline for take-out Chinese food (somewhat arbitrarily).
Gabe believes the fridge is a magic box that preserves food indefinitely. That, or he is stockpiling for a future food museum. Hard to say. At any rate, if it still looks like food, it stays in our fridge.
In a former life, I worked in professional food service and was once ServSafe Certified. I say this not to bias you, but feel you should know I have actual related qualifications.
Battle 4: What Time is On Time?
Gabe is a logistics ninja. He plans his day, allowing time for unforseen events like traffic and showering. He is perpetually 5-10 minutes early to events. It’s delightful: we get parking spaces up close, great seats, and always have time to use the bathroom before an event begins.
In my world, late begins fifteen minutes after the agreed upon time. So, if we’re to be somewhere at 1:00, pulling in the parking lot at 1:04 is still on time. Truthfully, I much prefer Gabe’s approach. I just can’t seem to budget the right amount of time for things, and often see something shiny at the precise moment I should be walking out the door.
Battle 5: What is the Ideal Temperature for Sleep?
Gabe sets the thermostat for an appropriate room temperature and moves on as though that’s a static thing. At night, he puts on seasonally appropriate sleepwear and climbs between the sheets.
I approach bedtime differently. The room temperature that is perfectly appropriate for daytime living is not for sleeping. At night, I must open the window, even in below-freezing temperatures, and a fan must be running. Sometimes I need two fans if the air isn’t moving enough and our bedroom begins to feel like a stifling coffin. Also, I sleep in a tank top and underwear year-round because pajamas are too hot.
It should be noted that the ideal temperature for sleeping is not the same as the ideal temperature for waking. This is logistically awkward, as we have fallen asleep with the windows open and fans running. When we wake in the morning, the tips of our noses are frostbitten.
Luckily, we agree that Gabe is the leader of morning activities, logistics ninja that he is. He gets up and shuts off the fans and closes the windows and climbs back into bed while we wait for the room to warm. It’s proof he loves me, even as these battles rage.
Gabe and I don’t speak of these silent fights that could topple our love like the precarious tower of plastics in the garage. We invest in our relationship in other ways to ensure our foundation is strong enough to weather these storms. We take comfort in knowing all couples fight battles. The course of true love never did run smooth. I am pretty sure Shakespeare was talking about this exact thing.
Editor’s Note: First, this is Gabe. I’m the editor here at This Life in Progress. Second, Kate overlooked the battle raging in our driveway. Why does she insist on locking our car? In our driveway. In the back of our sleepy suburban neighborhood. Every.Time.