Diary of a Marriage: I’ll Get To It.

What happens when you can’t agree on what needs to be done, when?

The top drawer of my bureau  —  my underwear drawer, naturally  —  won’t stay closed. I’ll shut it, and it will stay shut for a second before slowly sliding open again. It’s maddening.

“I’ll get to it,” J. said.

It’s been four weeks now, and my drawer still is perpetually open, my rainbow array of underwear and bras on display for anyone who happens to walk by.

“What if I have to wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and bump into it? I could cut myself on the edge of or something.” I cried one night in exasperation, knowing that I sounded insane, but continuing anyway. Maybe if he thought there was potential for bodily injury, it would spur him to action!

“I’m working on it,” he said.

Still open.

It’s not that I hadn’t tried to fix the stupid drawer myself, and it’s not that I was altogether surprised that it was falling apart. (It is, after all, a crap particleboard piece from IKEA put together with an illustrated instruction booklet and an allen wrench.) It was that J. seemed so unconcerned about fixing the drawer, even after I’d put it smack at the top of his please-do-this-for-me list, even after I’d presented, in dramatic fashion, the possibility for physical injury it presented.

The drawer became a source of conflict between us. (At one point, we even fell into a heated debate about whether or not a drawer actually worked if it didn’t close  —  he said yes, it still holds things; I said no, because the whole point of a drawer is to close, otherwise it’s a shelf). We’d become crazy people, arguing about nothing. But the drawer was the single thing that could instantly set me off, because it reminded me of all the other little things that I’d asked J. to do that he’d pushed to the bottom of his to-do list: Call to have the broken bench in our garage taken away, fix the timer on our dryer, do something about the missing sink stoppers in our bathroom. One night I reached a breaking point., after J. had had a few days off and the drawer still hung open, like a gaping mouth. I made him show me what he’d done to try to fix it.

“I, you know, I tried to rough up this edge over here, so it wouldn’t slide so easily…” he fumbled, gesturing vaguely to the side of the drawer.

“Mm-hmm. Right. And when that clearly didn’t work, what did you do then?” My hands were planted on my hips. I had become Queen Bitch.

“I’m working on it! For god’s sake, stop it with the drawer!” He stomped away.

But I couldn’t get the drawer off my mind. How was it that we had such different priorities when it came to the little things? Take our remote control, for instance. Our flatscreen TV hangs on a small half-wall in our living room. The cable box is hidden on the other side of this wall, on top of our kitchen cabinets. This means that in order to remotely change the channel — the whole point of a remote control, no? — you have to get up from the couch, walk over to the kitchen, arch your arm around the kitchen wall just so and aim the remote at the perfect level — all while craning your neck backwards to see the TV screen. It’s impossible, and annoying. I did some research and asked around about how to fix it (there must be some sensor we can install somewhere, right?), but J. insisted on taking control, fearful that I’d unnecessarily plunk down a huge chunk of change to fix it. And, to him, it wasn’t a big deal. Certainly nothing to spend $1,200 to fix.

“I’ll fix it this summer, when I’m off,” J., a teacher, said.

That was nearly three years ago.

I guess I should be happy for what I do have. J. cleans the kitchen and empties the dishwasher and makes the bed. But I still hold out hope that one day, I’ll be able to switch the channel from the comfort of my couch. Maybe this summer. The broken bench has finally been removed. So I guess there’s hope.

For now, though, my drawer is held closed by a small square of Scotch tape.

What about you and your husband or fiancé? Do you guys agree on what needs to be done around the house, when? Or do you find silly little things like this cause you to have bigger fights? Tell us your stories in the comments!

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