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Let me tell you a story about marriage...

Dave and I have been happily married for 19 years, in November it'll 20 years. Now you're probably wondering why I crossed out the word 'happily'. Don't worry, we're not splitting up. It's just an idiosyncrasy of mine to be plain about the reality of things. I'd say we've been happily married for something like 16 years of the past 19 years because there have been patches that just weren't that happy. We went through a particularly rough patch back in 2003 which lasted at least a year. The rest of the time has been a couple of months here and there. Marriage is very rarely a storybook thing.

But that's not actually what this post is about. It's about how over the years, through the thick and the thin of the marriage, you get to feel like you know each other quite well. You know each other's great attributes and then there are those things which sometimes make you wonder what exactly attracted you to the other person. Sometimes those irritating things are big - like why does he NEVER finish what he starts? It might be the dishes, arranging an appointment, going to the shops, he always starts, gets so far, and then decides he'll take a break and whatever it is just gets left until he is forced to complete it (usually by me). I'm sure my need to do everything yesterday is a big irritant for him. I get an idea in my head and then I have to that thing immediately or I'll die. I'm really sure that is one of the things that drive him nuts.

Then there are the little things...

One of the little irritations Dave causes me is that whenever he changes a toilet role, instead of taking the old cylinder to the bin, he saves it, or stuffs in inside one he's saved previously. He'll continue to stuff these roles until he can no longer fit another roll in and then he just starts all over again. I don't know how many times over the years I've chucked out roles because I could see he was not going to throw them out.

It has grated on me for two decades now.

The other day he says to me, 'You want to hear a useless fact?'

Me: 'Well, you know I'm the collector of useless facts, go ahead.'

Dave: 'Okay, so you know that thing where you can't fold a piece of paper in half more than seven times. Well, I've tried for years, but you can't stuff more than seven toilet rolls inside each other either.'

Suddenly, it all made sense! For twenty years I'd been witnessing a longitudinal study of the limits of stuffing toilet roles inside each other. And, I realised, I'd thwarted that research on many, many occasions over the years - and he hadn't said a thing about it. Here was a whole new facet of Dave's raison d'etre. It was not to irritate me, but to test a theory.

Now I find myself wondering what theory he's testing with the half finished jobs? It might take another couple of decades to hear that outcome. 


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