GAIL WHITE Some arguments are best left unresolved
It's been an ongoing struggle.
I feel that toothbrushes should be kept in an eclectically chosen glass container that perfectly accentuates the marble top bathroom counter and sits alongside the sink.
He feels that toothbrushes should be kept wherever the brusher feels like leaving them. He likes to leave his on the counter, beside the faucet.
I tried the hygiene approach.
"That is so sick!" I said with utmost disgust. "Look at your toothbrush, lying on the counter in your spit."
He looked at the toothbrush with nonchalant disinterest. "I rinsed it," he said, flippantly.
I tried the aesthetic approach.
"That looks terrible," I said. "Your toothbrush leaves a white scum mark on the counter."
"It's a toothbrush. This is a bathroom," he said with a condescending tone, as if bored that he had to explain to me that the two go together.
I resorted to the financial approach.
"We paid a lot of money for that countertop," I insisted vehemently. "Your toothpaste scum is going to ruin it."
"It's marble," he said slowly while staring at with me with finality.
What happened next
I dropped the matter. I had tried every course of action I could think of. Nothing worked. I was destined to have white toothpaste scum alongside my sink for life.
Two weeks ago, he called me into the bathroom.
"Look, I'm being sensitive to your needs," he said, standing tall with pride and pointing to the sink. (He actually used the words "sensitive to your needs." He must have read a book or been taking a class on the sly!)
My eyes panned the countertop.
I searched the pretty glass toothbrush holder ... nothing new there.
My eyes stopped at the sink.
There on the lip of the sink lay his toothbrush, the bristles dangling precariously into the bowl.
"No more white scum on the counter!" he said, just beaming with delight.
I looked at him. I looked at the dangling toothbrush. I looked at the pretty glass container on the other side of the sink.
He just doesn't see it, I thought to myself. It is invisible to his eyes.
(I have since concluded that my eclectically chosen pretty glass container is just too dainty for his sight. I have considered a trip to the Army-Navy store for a surplus camouflage tin -- but that would be uglier than the white scum.)
I raised my hand to point and opened my mouth to speak, but then I refrained. If I have learned one thing in marriage, it is the art of biting my tongue. (I have the teeth marks to prove it!)
Years earlier in our marriage, this small matter with the toothbrushes would likely have grown into a huge issue of contention. (In other words, we would have had a big argument.)
His attempt at being "sensitive" would have been countered by my insistence that he was "wrong." I would have pointed out his blatant disregard of the glass container. He would have zeroed in on my brazen inconsiderateness toward his attempt to be thoughtful.
We would have started with these issues and then traveled the gamut of infractions one has imposed on the other throughout the duration of our life together.
It always amazed me how far we could travel and how many topics we could cover during the course of an argument. (All, of course, with no resolution -- only more fuel for the next argument.)
Instead, now, I accepted his attempt at "being sensitive" even though I still felt he wasn't doing it right.
Marriage isn't about being right. It is about loving the other person enough to have respect for a different opinion or way of doing something.
Sometimes, my husband and I have come to a mutual understanding about the "right" way to do something. Other times, we compromise and accept that compromise with love and respect -- white scum, dangling toothbrushes and all.