Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

I’m Married to Sheldon Cooper

Dew is heavy this morning. If the temperature had dropped to near zero as was forecast, a killing frost would have clobbered the garden. I’m happy inside where it’s warm and not out rock collecting with the guys. It’s good to have the house to myself for a change.

We’ve had a busier than usual week. Besides wrapping up the Tweedsmuir project which required daily trips to the museum, and more treatments for the pinched nerve, we’ve had back-to-back house guests of the mineral collecting variety. For Reiner this meant long hours digging and hauling rock. He has a reputation to uphold: that of being a human backhoe. I think he’s overdone it. He would never admit it, but he’s tired and needs to recharge. It’s manifesting in his need to have everything clean and tidy and orderly.

This quote suits Reiner to a “T.” [Click for source.]

Sure, I know he has his quirks and foibles. We all do. However, from what I’ve read about Autism spectrum and Asperger’s, I think my hubby falls to the left of Sheldon Cooper. By “left” I mean “almost.”

For instance, this morning after clearing the breakfast dishes, our guest R and I sat at the table chatting. Reiner was scrubbing something at the kitchen sink. I thought he was prepping a mineral specimen or other mining artifact to show our friend.

“What are you cleaning?” I asked.

“Something,” he replied, as cryptic as ever.

He scrubbed on as R and I gabbed. A few moments later, I’m more curious than ever, so I ask again.

“Is that from your trip to the silver mine?”

“No.”

Finally, he turns from the sink and presents the item to R.

“Here,” he said, as he handed R’s comb to him. “It’s clean, now.”

Bless him, and without missing a beat, R exclaims, “Oh, no! Now it won’t work! There was twenty year’s-worth of hair grease accumulated on this!”

I was mildly mortified at Reiner’s over-stepping.

I could see that the comb cleaning was part of a bigger pattern. He cleaned my hairbrush earlier this week. He felt compelled to vacuum the indoor-outdoor carpet even though muddy rockhound boots will tramp all over it for the next forty-eight hours. He stayed up long past his usual bedtime last night to jar up pickled beets.

Ah yes, the beets. The subject of our confrontation yesterday.

Toward dinner time, we had the usual discussion of what we’d eat. We settled on home-cut fries. While I retrieved the potatoes from our root cellar, I noticed that the apples were over-ripe and the bag of beets had started to sprout. I carried all three bags, plus an additional bag of spuds up to the kitchen.

Apparently, that was my first “mis-step.” Overloading myself. Which, somehow overloads him. He worries that I will hurt myself by carrying too much weight. (Meanwhile, I had just finished congratulating myself for being ABLE to carry that weight up the stairs without pausing as I once needed to do.)

The second failure on my part was bringing up more potatoes than necessary. You see, that meant more clutter on an already crowded counter-top. He returned the spare bag of spuds to the cellar.

My third, and gravest error was multi-tasking. To him, preparing fries concurrent with making an apple crisp and setting a pot of beets to boil was more than he could handle. He had not planned on pickling the beets that day, but now, it was ordained: he was obliged. Apparently.

Of course, all this time, he is saying nothing, but I can sense that he is troubled. We have the usual “Is something wrong?” and “Nothing’s wrong” and “Are you sure?” back-and-forth until he finally spills the “beets.”

His lament: Why do you always have to take on too much? Why must you multi-task? Why can’t you do one thing at a time?

He took the beets back to the storage.

Hey! Hold on, buster! I countered with “Why CAN’T I make apple crisp at the same time as you make the fries and the beets are boiling on the stove?” I was pissed off. To me it seemed that he was trying to control what I did and how I did it.

For better or worse (ah, those famous words) I haven’t had much arguing practice in this marriage. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. We both tend to put up and shut up. He more than I. Much, much more. Not a desirable approach to living together. That’s how powder kegs form.

He said something hurtful. I fired back. Knowing that playing dirty is bad form, I tried to defuse and de-escalate, by calling a time-out. That lasted for 3.429 seconds. The cycle continued for a few more rounds, then he was silent for some time before he blurted something I’ve never, ever heard him say.

“An over-cluttered countertop drives me crazy.”

I was stunned. “I didn’t know that. Of course, let’s cook the beets later.”

You would think that since I suspect he’s Aspie, I would have managed to apply that knowledge to day-to-day living with the man. In my defense, I didn’t want to make Asperger’s ASSumptions without more input from him. But I couldn’t find the way to have that conversation. Besides, I have blind spots of my own and I also have a tendency toward armchair diagnosis. Who am I to point fingers?

We kissed and made up. Ate our fries. Apple crisp for dessert. R arrived just after our meal. We visited for a bit then turned in for the night.

But Reiner first boiled and pickled those beets!

For all of my complaining and fault-finding, I (eventually) know that Reiner has no ill-intentions. He is a diligent, hard-working, and devoted partner. I will go on record here to say, credit where credit is due.

*** *** ***

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness challenge. Today, hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities. The prompt: Do/Dew/Due.

 

Categories: Husband, Relationships

Tags: , , ,

65 replies

  1. Hence, an even greater thing that you’ve taken in the feral cats. Shelly really really likes cats. 🙂 And bless you. That’s all.. just, bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had forgotten about Shelly and the cats! And, thanks. I appreciate the blessings. 🙂

      What’s interesting about cats and the man of this house is that at one time, decades before I met him, he used to be allergic and “ill-disposed” toward cats. Now he’s totally enraptured.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aww 🙂 Cats are unique. They can honor a guy with their favors (and demands) in ways other pets cannot. Plus, they don’t weigh as much as dogs when they’re crashed out on your chest, purring out tuna-breath in your face. And maybe sometimes their mysteries are as intriguing as those in geology. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • They are cute, no question. Just a wee bit on the pokey side, and true-blue ankle-biters. Seriously, I have the scratches to prove it!

          Liked by 1 person

          • All our cats went through that; only one didn’t outgrow it, and it stopped being ambush-play to him and became a matter of seriousness for him, but he was messed up mentally to begin with. Oddly enough, though, he never used claw nor tooth on the baby (though no one else escaped either of those menaces) — rather, he loved to play trains with him, and was the only cat we could give medicine to easily. I hope your two will calm down soon, but like puppies, there’s a stage of half-grown cat where one questions one’s sanity.

            Like

  2. I’m not on the spectrum but one of my quirks is ‘no clutter’. Clutter makes me agitated. My husband (big clutter man) and I had to work this out. We have only 2 appliances on the kitchen counter and if I could get rid of the toaster, I would. The coffeemaker would stay. Fortunately we each have our own space to manage. He has a workshop and I have a cat room, sewing area and office area. (No matter how it sounds, his area is bigger than mine.) If I have to get a screw or tool from his workshop, I have to get myself to a happy place before I go in and get attacked by mega clutter. The really odd thing is that he is much neater in the garage than I am. He has everything in a set place. Somehow we make it work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just life in a marriage to me. We all get snippy when we’re tired or stressed. I fluff pillows that don’t need to be fluffed and wipe down the kitchen like it’s the OR. The Mister yells about shoes in the entry and acts like the dog needs to pee every 30 minutes and no one loves her. LOL Like, that’s just the life.
    I hate a cluttered countertop, too, but I frequently do five things in the kitchen at the same time. I find it makes the best use of time and resources — lil broth for this, lil meat for that, bread’s risin. I think that’s good kitchen witchery. When it’s all done, the minimalism returns.
    I would cry if someone cleaned my hairbrush, too. It’s boar’s hair or whatever, and it’s biome is delicate, like the state of my hair.
    Congratulations on the status of your climb, a great improvement in your endurance has been made 🙂
    The Mister gets mad at me for doing too much too. I often end up sick, so I see his point, but it’s not entirely selfless, as he doesn’t want to have to do my things on top of his own, and also, it illuminates his own vulnerability. But partnership isn’t supposed to be selfless or selfish… The dance of balance.

    I could say a lot more, but I’ll just say this was a great post, and I see the intricacies. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Know what? I take great comfort from your words, “just life in a marriage.” An indicator of being tired and stressed, only. Not the end of the marriage! I haven’t yet learned that spats like these don’t necessarily have to lead to the divorce court. I “awfulize” and go straight to panic mode. Thank you for your wisdom. ❤

      “I hate a cluttered countertop, too, but I frequently do five things in the kitchen at the same time. I find it makes the best use of time and resources.” EXACTLY! And if you make an omelette, you break some eggs. Mess during production is expected.

      You hit the nail on the head, I think, regarding my mister’s TRUE objection to me cooking the beets. It wasn’t that he was primarily worried for my health as I schlepped the produce from basement to kitchen. Rather, he didn’t want to have “pickle the beets” on his “to do” list that day. Reiner hates having things on his “to do” list. It plagues him and he is driven to “getter done” no matter his energy level. No matter that the beets could sit in the fridge for a day or two.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I would drive him insane. My desk is a mess, I have piles of books at various stages of being read and I often run back and forth from the TV to the stove to my computer to whatever else catches my eye or sparks my interest.

    And FYI, I love Sheldon Cooper, fries, beets and apple crisp.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Clutter bothers some a lot more than others. Washing someone’s( a guest’s) comb is a whole ‘nother thing. That would be embarrassing for me if my husband did that. At least your friend had a sense of humor about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank goodness indeed for our friend’s sense of humour. I’ve talked with R a few times about the challenges of living with my hubby’s quirks. R has spent many hours with him on rock collecting trips. At one of the mineral shows were R had a display of his silver collection, hubby was outspoken and dismissive of some of the pieces. R was somewhat put out by the remarks. When he and I spoke later, he said, “Reiner is Reiner. That’s who he is.” If I consider the Asperger’s angle, and the low social skills component… well, it begins to make sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well it is possible. Not sure if someone is really set in their ways if they would be open to gentle coaching about boundaries with personal belongings or how certain remarks can be hurtful. But he does have a friend or friends, so they are able to tolerate his quirks like you say. I have worked with kids and teenagers on the spectrum. I found that kids with Asperger’s can be aware of their social problems and be frustrated about it. Social skills do not come naturally to them and they have to learn what is appropriate. The person needs to be evaluated by an expert to make a diagnosis so I don’t like to guess. I can understand how you want to know what is behind your husband’s behavior. It makes it easier to accept it if we know the reason behind it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “…evaluated by an expert .” Yes, that part niggles at my mind. I’m no pro.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mainly you are talking about quirks that bother you sometimes. Maybe it does not matter so much how he got to be this way. You can’t make him change unless he is willing to work on some of the things. I have not heard of people getting evaluated for Autism as adults. Not saying it has not ever happened. With children they try to learn to develop better social skills and manage behaviors and coping. I really don’t know how it would work for an adult. But I am getting above my knowledge base and do not feel qualified to give advice about this. I have tried to figure out my husband’s quirks many times but it is kind of pop psychology. Then I come around to trying to be compassionate about whatever he’s going through.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice job of the prompt Maggie. I love how we continue to discover stuff we didn’t know about our chosen mates. For the record, any time you wanted to make pickled beets would be ok with me. I’d screw up all that other stuff and I’m sure I’m not easy to live with, but you could make beets whenever. I like me some beets.

    Bonus points for you today. Be sure to share with hubs. ✔️☑️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Maggie, what an honest post that so many of us can relate to. I’m always amused (when I’m in a good mood – “angered” when I’m not) at how each of us can point out the others foibles while ignoring our own. If someone knows of a more mature way to say “well, you do it too!”, I’d appreciate the insight. 🙂

    Anytime you want to make fries and an apple crisp – at the same time GASP – at my house, be my guest. The beets, though, can go right back into the cellar to sprout to their hearts content.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a good giggle at your beets comment – they are truly one of those “love ’em or leave ’em” vegetables.

      It’s such a comfort to hear that you can relate, you know? I’ve been to couples counselling, I’ve read the books and the magazine articles on how to argue – I see how it’s “supposed” to be done with love and respect. But in real life? HA!! Like that’s going to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. At times, we are all just a little left of Sheldon Cooper. I get it. I clean when stressed. When I’m happiest, the house gets a break, and that’s good for everybody. Now that he’s retired, the hubs sees dust that I don’t see. Sometimes, he does something about it. But not always. And that’s ok too. It is a bit of a balancing act, this relationship stuff, always.

    Now, I want beets. And I need to check my hairbrush.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with your first line about the Sheldon Cooper in all of us. For me it’s limited social skills, the tendency to take things literally, an inflexibility in how something is done. “That’s my chair.”

      Let me know if you find any beets in your hairbrush! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have a half-brother who believes himself to be somewhere on the spectrum. I didn’t really grow up with him and we aren’t at all close, but with the little bit of research I’ve done on my own, I think that he’s likely correct. As we aren’t lovey-dovey anyway and I only ever routinely connected with him by bi-annual email, it came as little surprise when he (finally) asked me not to email unless there was a crisis. Processing chatty emails is way too much for him. I would love a relationship with him, but I also don’t want to cause issues.
    The counter clutter you, and others, have mentioned is really interesting, as are other points being discussed. Makes me curious about habits and ‘quirks’ that my youngest has…thanks for this post Maggie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s intriguing to read about your half-brother, Deb. Reiner has often grumbled about long, chatty emails from a friend. He puts off responding because of the time involved, time that would be spent more productively, in his mind. After a while, his correspondent becomes concerned because he hasn’t answered two or three of her emails. So, he heaves an exasperated sigh and finally tucks into the task. Is that Asperger’s? Maybe? It fits the social skills profile.

      But then I start to feel apprehensive of my need to label and judge and all that jazz. It’s a puzzlement.

      Thanks, Deb, for your thoughtful comment!

      Like

  10. I was there with you, Maggie. I felt the tension and the attempt at peacemaking on both your parts. I’m glad you had the house to yourself to work it out in writing and set your mind to right – one of the true wonders of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Relatable on so many levels…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Now, I’m the LAST one to offer marriage advice (I’ve messed up both of mine) – but it’s always about compromise. And remembering the good times when you’re in the midst of a bad moment.

    We’re all emotional humans, and those emotions come out to showcase our worst on occasion…but we somehow manage to muddle through the mess time and time again.

    Just last night, I had to be reminded to practice what I preach – in that I CAN call for a change of subject if the conversation at hand is getting on my nerves. I’m much more prone to going sullen at yet another history or political lesson instead of turning the conversation to something more interesting to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll take all the advice you have to offer, Peg – from one with two divorce decrees myself.

      As I’m composing this response to your comment, I realize that, for me, I have a STRONG need for uncluttered emotional countertops. I am really frightened by messy muddles! Partly because I have had a string of failed long-term relationships and partly because I don’t know how to fight fair. This in spite of the multiple lessons and books and articles I’ve consumed, trying to learn how to have an argument.

      I take comfort in knowing that you have had a similar road to travel. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Isn’t it so typical of all of us to argue and fight without addressing the core issue? – i.e. the cluttered countertop. Then there’s the issue of putting up and shutting up without really talking about the problem.

    It sounds like the two of you had a major breakthrough … always a little earthshaking after so many years together. I think those little surprises along the way are part of the glue that holds us together ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, you nailed it. I had thought about the “presenting problem” scenario: “He leaves the toilet seat up!” “She’s always talking on the phone.”

      In our case, I believe, it had nothing to do with my wanting to cook beets, apples, and spuds at the same time, per se. But everything to do with his preference for order and tidiness which was heightened since he was tired and wanted a break from the work. Adding “pickle the beets” to his “to do” list was the tipping point.

      Thanks, hon. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have to admit that I’m really bad for that. I rarely acknowledge the real reason why I’m annoyed with Gilles. I get mad over something really petty and often don’t even know the underlying problem, except that maybe I’m tired and feeling overwhelmed.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. marriage is all about communicating…so they say. Mostly it’s about listening I think. Congratulations on sorting at least some of it out. It’s not easy, and if I lived with Sheldon I’m sure I’d be a lot less patient than you are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dawn. Listening and being heard, is absolutely high, if not at the top of my list of needs for a successful relationship. Which makes me pause and wonder if I need to examine my own ability to do the same for him and others.

      Yeah, living with Sheldon is a trial. At least there’s a laugh track in the real life experience, too!

      Like

  15. Ah, clutter vs. tidiness. Sounds very familiar.

    And I love ‘mildly mortified!’

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Most entertaining – for those who actually have a sense of humour 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sometimes the hardest part of a marriage is learning to accept each other for who we truly are. It helps when your husband actually articulates his needs, although that kind of communication tends to be all too rare.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. There is nothing wrong with a healthy bit of Asperger’s – but seriously……beets? There is no end to the evil of beets.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Well, to move off from the cats a moment.. I think it’s very hard for nearly ANY two adults to live together for life, especially when it has become 24/7/365; it’s possible you’re still in that retirement transition. Which I hope never to face! By Day Three Together, our responses to each other are 98% incredulity at the others’ many ridiculous flaws,1% laughter, and 1% quiet while eating. Fortunately, his (us-)saving grace is that he starts over new each day — clean slate for everybody — and every day starts out as wonderful indeed, to him. Which makes me rest my grumbles and swear to pick any battles better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I realize that my readers have only part of the story regarding my feelings that hubby has a touch (or more) of Aspie. I continue to consider that as a possibility. In the meantime, I’m working on altering my expectations and aiming for acceptance.

      But I can only agree with you that we are not only adjusting to retired life together, we are also recovering from a very stressful move and getting used to an entirely new town, Northern community, and climate! A lot to incorporate, for sure.

      In the “saving grace” department, it sounds like my guy is similar to yours. He recovers extremely rapidly from an episode, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amen, and yes indeed — that’s a LOT to get used to, for sure, all at once. It is a wonder that neither of you has imploded!! I might! It must sometimes seem like you two have been sent to a foreign planet, sometimes! I’m glad it has cats! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  20. I rather like a bit of clutter on the kitchen counters. Makes me feel like I’m safe at home, doing something important. I’ve been in homes where the counters are barren, and I always wondered what sort of person lives there. Now I know! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean about barren counters – as it the place has been staged for the real estate market.

      Our counters are actually fuller than I care for – he likes his soda at room temperature – ditto the apples and tomatoes and the dried fruit (prunes – good for what ails you) sit out at the ready. If I were on my own, many of these items would be out of sight.

      So if this isn’t mixed messages, I don’t know what is!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Lol! My husband (J) is left of Sheldon as well – he has three separate indoor bins for our additions to the compost heap and the recycling rules – oh my, we won’t go there. I absolutely adore beets. Simply can’t understand not loving beets.

    Liked by 1 person

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