Monday, January 24, 2011

consensus building

Last week, as you know, was the week we realized how thoroughly we suck at sticking to our imaginary budget, and also the week where we determined that was actually fine.  I also happened to read over on Laptops to Lullabies about the her plan to try to eat all the old crap that has been hanging out in the kitchen for who-knows-how-long.  I wanted to try it ourselves.  Then came the tricky part.  I had to get Kathy's buy-in, knowing that she has told me that one of the great things about being an adult is you can eat what you want, rather than what is put on the plate in front of you.  This idea does not mesh well with "Hi Sweetie, we're having canned tomatoes and three month old Rice Chex for dinner!"

I concocted what I thought was a really great plan for getting her on board.  We would utilize the "eat all the old crap out of the kitchen" as a challenge, which would inspire us to cut our grocery budget by $300 (a random amount I picked out of nowhere).  With that $300, we could buy one round trip plane ticket.  That, plus a coupon I got for a free companion fare, would get us a weekend away, anywhere in the US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii, per the terms of my free airfare voucher), for the measly price of some canned tomatoes and old Rice Chex.  How exciting and fun!


Except that Kathy had just had an extraordinarily crappy day.  She did not want to be rewarded for the crappy day with the news that she was eating sardines and canned peas over rice for dinner next week.  Even my enthusiastic promise of a vacation was not enough to get her excited about it.  Because I also hadn't had a great day, and because part of the magic of a same-sex relationship is having synced-up monthly cycles, the conversation entered kind of a death spiral.  I forgot to mention that the "conversation" was taking place on neighboring treadmills at the gym, so that was fun for those around us, I'm sure. 

I told her how hard it is for me, as the one who moved into her house (rather than her moving into mine, or us picking a brand new one together) to exercise control over anything without feeling like I need to check in with her first.  Sometimes, I just want to make a decision without all the consensus-building.  Kathy told me that she does too, and that's why she wants to keep "obey" in our wedding vows. Specifically, in mine. Ha, ha. 

After we were done running, we sat down to talk about it some more.  I explained to her that the only thing that was "mine" in the house, that I had sole domain over without having to check with her, was the yard.  Which is currently covered in snow.  Because of the kids, and the fact that she has always done it, she kind of "runs the show" inside the house.  She said to me, "You know what, you're right.  You always make tasty meals.  You're actually a better cook than I am.  If you want to use up all the old stuff in the cupboards, that's fine.  I'm sure I won't even notice.  In fact, you can take the kitchen.  It's now your domain, if you want it.  I'll tell you what I need for the kids' lunches and snacks, but the rest is yours.  Let me know if you need help."  I was totally excited to begin our very own Cupboard Clean-Out 2011, all on my own.  I was master of the kitchen.

But then she said, "Can't we do it together?  I'll sit down with you, and make a list of what we have in there.  There is some stuff that's old, and kind of gross.  Let's use it up, and start new."  Which is what I wanted in the first place.  I didn't have to bribe her with a weekend away, she was willing to do it with me just because I asked her to, once she understood why I wanted to do it.

Then the weekend rolled around.  Saturday morning I went to yoga, then had to stop by Home Depot to buy a replacement doorknob (our bathroom doorknob broke, and the kids kept getting themselves locked in there).  I went to the grocery store, because we were having company for dinner and overnight.  We had to clean the house.  Last night the Steelers played the Jets, and we went across the street to the neighbor's to watch the game.  I shoveled the snow.

We never did get the chance to sit down and make a list of the old stuff in the cupboards and freezer.  But it was okay, actually.  We'll do it at some point, I am pretty sure.  And it turns out, I don't actually want sole domain over the kitchen.  I actually like having Kathy buy-in to my crazy little projects, and do them with me.  It's part of what makes us feel like a partnership.  Having the kitchen be "mine" and the office be "hers" doesn't make the house "ours."  Having the kitchen be "ours" and the office be "ours" is what makes the house "ours."  And that means that come spring, she can head out to the vegetable garden with me.

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