Sunday, April 15, 2007

[small differences] all the difference in the world

Let's assume you love your partner, you see eye-to-eye on most things but not on everything. The answer is compromise, of course and with the years, you get more skilled at it.

But what if you can't compromise? What if it is such a small yet fundamental difference that it can derail the relationship? Sam Brett writes:

While two clutter busters [neat people] are a match made in heaven, I wonder what would happen if either one were dating someone quite the contrary - a total slob. What if they were dating someone who didn't give a toss about how trim the trees looked or whether the soaps were lined up in the bathroom? How would they cope?

The answer is, of course - they wouldn't. But why stop there? What about other differences, such as the air we breathe and the heat we can stand? I'm going to be struck off the lady bloggers' eligibility lists for this but here's an example:

I think I must have Wilson's Syndrome - low body core temperature. I can't stand close atmosphere or heat above about 12 degrees. Almost all the people I deal with in my job are female and most females are known for their sensitivity to cold.

While this can work to advantage when they snuggle up, what about when you open the balcony door in winter to get some air moving? Horrified, she starts shivering and you compromise and close it, almost. But she still does the shivering bit, so you close it.

Within ten minutes you can't breathe and you have to get out of there, whereas she is as happy as can be. You apologize and say it will only be for a few moments and then rush to open the balcony again.

And so on. It can't work. It won't work. It's fundamental. There goes the love.

I'm not even going to start on snoring.


  1. I think perhaps this is why more and more married couples are getting two separate master bedrooms-- seemingly tiny differences like this.

    My roommate is a complete slob, and I'm a pretty tidy person. It's almost unlivable. I spend too much of my time cleaning up after her and putting things away that she leaves out (milk, cheese, hangers, wet socks, you name it).

    If I marry a messy person, I'll scream.

  2. Ruthie, you have to deal with this and deal with this fast.

  3. I'm not unreasonable. I don't mind clothes on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink.

    But she goes beyond that... leaving perishable foods out until they go bad, or leaving underwear lying around... or giant stacks of trash... that's more than I can stand.

  4. I have been married twice, each time to different types of obsessive compulsive neat freaks. I am very slobby by nature and have worked hard to be more tolerable. These kinds of things, as James mentions are major underpinnings for a succesful marriage. It is a bit different picking up after your children and picking up after your husband. I am still pretty bad, but have worked out how to clean tolerably and to keep things pretty tidy in the bedroom. We have a large shed outside, which is my emergency storage area. It always looks disastrous and my wife wont go near it, but it helps to keep the rest of the house tidy as I jettison unnecessary items into the huge, to be organised some day, storage bin.

  5. In answer to Sam's question, if you marry someone who you know has a medical problem, then adapting to their needs becomes fairly routine I imagine - as long as they make up for it in other ways. Life is not just about compromise - give and take has to work both ways too. ;-)

  6. I have a weird personality when it comes to tidiness.

    I am a 'like it is' person, if you are tidy and the place is clean, I will go out of my way to leave it that way. If you are a slob and the place is dirty, I will leave it that way too :)

    I'm also a heat generator James, I can break a sweat at almost freezing.

  7. Noo, the real question with any prospective relationship is 'are you or are you not a morning person?'.

    Everything else is a footnote compared to that issue.

  8. (Above was Croydonian, not 'mania - I was doing some template work for him and forgot to sign out.)

  9. Oh, I can't stand being cold and I nearly always am! I don't think I'd be very good at compromise now. My nightmare would be to get together with a minimalist - that would drive me nuts. I'm sure you're still very eligible, James!
    Thanks for the link in the next one, btw.