Welcome back to another exciting week of reading about other people’s problems! Specifically: low-stakes cohabitation quirks that are driving one or the other partner nuts. Today’s question actually has a super easy solution — so obviously, we’ll do everything in our power to complicate the answer, just for our own amusement. And hopefully yours! But… mostly ours, if we’re being completely honest.
[Remember: You too can entertain us with your problems at [email protected], and we’ll probably answer you! No issue is too big or too small for us to talk about, since no advice we cook up is guaranteed to help anyway.]
I’m basically selfish, and I got married a year ago to a pretty quirky guy. I want to be a nice person but I recently identified two problems with him where trying to be nice seems a little … crazy.
(1) I do the food prep and Spouse cooks. (I hate cooking so it works out fine.) We eat a lot of potatoes, though, and Spouse just announced he hates the taste of the skin. Wants me to peel them. Again, I might oblige if we ate two or three big potatoes during a meal, but we eat probably twenty tiny ones.
I feel justified in refusing to peel the potatoes, but I feel like a bad mom saying, “I’ll fix them the way I wanna fix them and you can either eat them or DON’T!”
(2) I frequently blow my nose in toilet paper, then toss it in the toilet. Spouse wants me to flush it, because he says it smells bad.
Two sheets of toilet paper plus slight nose discharge. Somehow smells bad. I don’t really care and would oblige but I do it at least once a day and it’d be a massive waste of water. (Let’s make this perfectly clear: I do NOT have smelly mucus.)
What do I do? I could do what he asks but I get the feeling more quirks could be coming soon, and maybe I should get the “Deal with your weirdness yourself” conversation out of the way.
It turns out that we’ve answered a question from this reader before (see if you can guess when!), so I feel like I’m already a little invested in this relationship. But I also don’t want to assume that this person isn’t just trolling us, or wasn’t trolling us in the past — I mean, either question, or even both, could be fake, which is an assumption I make about everything that lands in our inbox. Really, it’s part of the charm of this whole endeavor. Hell, I lie in my answers! LYING IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS FOR.
Point is — I’m going to answer this one on its own merits and try not to let any previous information cloud my judgment. And the easy, completely obvious solution to this situation is a) just buy larger potatoes, and b) throw your used snot rags in the trash. No need to make a fuss, or have a discussion. If your husband says anything about preferring the smaller potatoes, THEN you can bring up the fact that you have no intention of peeling the small ones, considering the entire point of small potatoes is that they can be eaten without being peeled, so the choice is up to him: large peeled ones or small unpeeled ones?
And as for the tissues — yeah, they probably don’t smell (though how would you know, if your nose is so constantly stuffed up that this is even an issue?). His complaint may be psychosomatic, and could be triggered by ANYTHING left floating in a toilet bowl for too long (and for that matter, the potato skin thing is probably psychosomatic too — because that shit is DELICIOUS). But who cares? Tissues don’t need to be flushed — they can be thrown in the garbage. If you don’t have a trashcan in the bathroom, get one! It’s cheap and easy, and won’t waste any water with the flushing.
But like… that’s all a bit TOO easy, isn’t it? So the Overlords weren’t content to just leave it at that. Instead, we wanted to dive deep and offer some out-of-the-box suggestions, like:
- Stop eating potatoes entirely, and make other veggies instead (LOTS of options available in literally ANY grocery store)
- When it comes to peeling potatoes, share the prep work. After all, cooking prep is actually a part of “cooking” — in fact, it’s MOST of cooking
- Leave the toilet lid down and see if your husband even notices the tissues
- Leave the potato skins IN the toilet, on top of the snotty tissues
- Blow your nose using actual fucking tissues, in rooms that are not the bathroom
- Acknowledge that if you are both eating the food, and helping prepare the food, then you should both enjoy the food and make decisions that support that goal. Moms only get away with that “I’ll make things the way I want” garbage because their kids aren’t in the kitchen helping them, or paying for the food, or really contributing in any way because kids are the goddamn worst (but cute!).
- Burn your tissues with fire
- Burn the skin off your potatoes with fire
- Place potatoes wrapped in used, soggy snot rags in a bear trap, then wait… (for what? I dunno. BEAR TRAP!)
Here’s the thing though: The question is more interesting here than any answer. Because these supposed “quirks” aren’t quirks at all. They’re just preferences. And marriage, or any longterm relationship, is all about compromising when the preferences of two people clash. In fact, the only “quirk” in that question was the one about somebody insisting on leaving used snot rags in a toilet rather than in a garbage can, and that their RIGHT to do so is more important than their partner’s comfort or happiness. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, the issues on display here are actually VERY MINOR preferences. I once had a roommate who would trim his toenails over the bathroom sink AND THEN LEAVE THE CLIPPINGS THERE. And I wasn’t even dating him! What’s peeling potatoes or flushing snot rags compared to that shit, eh?
No, what I’m more interested in the very first statement: “I’m basically selfish.” Branding the husband’s preferences as him being “quirky” doesn’t erase the fact that the person asking this question is mostly looking for justification to not change his behavior in any way. And if THAT’s the real problem, then here’s another simple solution: Don’t get married. Or live together, with anyone. Then you can go about your daily existence however you see fit, with no interference. But if you are living with someone, and married to that someone, then yes — maybe instead of framing their complaints as “weirdness”, you should spend some time thinking about why you don’t want to find a compromise with them in the first place. Because, as we have already demonstrated — there are very easy solutions available to you. Instead, you came to us.
I’m with you on one thing though: You are probably going to face even more of your husband’s quirky preferences in the future. Because, like, that’s what living with another autonomous human being is all about. People are gross and weird, and living together means learning to deal with their gross weird shit. It’s a given that this’ll be a repeat scenario, and you’re fucking lucky that your husband’s hatred of delicious potato skin is only NOW coming up. So instead of worrying about drawing the line in the sand over this piddly shit, maybe save that nuclear option until your husband is ACTUALLY being unreasonable about something that will cause you a major hassle, and there aren’t bigger potatoes or $8 trash bins available that could save the day.
And remember — you’re not the only one dealing with someone else’s preferences. What quirks of yours has your husband had to bow to already?
What I’m saying is: It’s entirely possible that you’re both giant pains in the ass to live with. So Mazel Tov!