Not gonna lie: I’m a fairly passive aggressive person. I know, I know, passive aggression is extremely irritating; I can’t stand when people point it in my direction.
Still, I come from a family of stoic, non-confrontational types. But we’re also opinionated non-confrontational types, so passive aggression is our tool when dealing with conflict.
Of course, passive aggression and a relationship/marriage/living with a roommate/whatever don’t usually mix too well (as you can read about here and here). I will usually internalize issues I have, thinking they’re individually not worth putting up a fight over, until I’m so overwhelmed with pet peeves that I end up exploding over something like having peas instead of broccoli as a side for dinner.
It’s the turn of the seasons, though, and with that, comes a renewed outlook on my approach to life. And since I don’t like directly addressing problems or concerns that I have in a normal, healthy manner, I’ve resorted to singing my issues instead.
Take this one, for example, from this past weekend:
Why isn’t Daddy #1
Making the beeeeeed?
I make it all week looooong
And take you on all your walks
He can at least make it
Once and a whiiiiiile….!
(So, not only am I singing–and not making much of an effort at rhyming–but I’m singing to the dog instead of my husband.)
This is me breaking out of my non-confrontational shell. At least I’m verbalizing my issues now!
There’s something truly gratifying about “cracking” your partner’s secret language, coming to understand their implicit cues and body language. Especially when you’re pretty dense, like myself.
This isn’t even something I considered until it dawned on me one day that Lance was saying something but meaning something completely different. It was the same question he’d ask me at least once a week: “So….what do you want for dinner?”
For months–if not years!–we went back and forth for a half an hour before finally deciding to just order a pizza. And then there came the day, after experiencing this dozens of times, that I realized Lance only asks that question when he doesn’t want to cook, but is too unmotivated (or broke!) to go out to a restaurant.
“What do you want for dinner” was code (you guessed it!) for pizza.
Now, instead of wasting a half-hour on failing miserably to come to a compromise, I know right away that we’re just going to order pizza and I can spend the next 29 minutes watching old episodes of Louie on Netflix.
Other examples of Lance’s Code include:
The “I’m not answering your e-mail so I don’t have to acknowledge whatever you’re proposing” trick (I’m pretty sure Lance swore, “Sonofabitch!” when he found out that I broke this code);
The “We need to do X” play, which really means, “You need to do this because I don’t want to, and I’m trying to be diplomatic.”
Of course, this isn’t to say that I’m without my own “code”–hell, I’m arguably the most passive-aggressive person you’ll ever know. We’re all about codes!–but I’ll leave that to Lance to detail in another post.
Relationships 101: it’s not really about compromise. Compromise implies that you’re meeting somebody halfway between your opinion and theirs. How often does this happen in relationships? Never, because then both parties end up being half-miserable because neither person got what they wanted.
No, relationships are really about sucking it up and giving in completely on half of everything you do, or doing stuff you would never do otherwise because, gosh darnit, you just love that person and it would mean a lot to them.
Case in point: Lance’s family often chooses to go bowling as part of a birthday celebration. This is totally fine and normal and completely in line with how, like, every American ever probably celebrates birthdays and other family get-togethers.
I did not grow up in a family of bowlers, or a family who willfully chose friendly competition if any other options were available to us. Everybody in my family has both a competitive edge and sucks at sports, two things which don’t mesh really well. The stories of my dad cursing his way through his own adolescent bowling experiences are legendary.
This is where I come from: I’m competitive but I’m terrible, and I don’t possess the honest self-deprecation required to play it for laughs. It’s all for show as I roll ball after ball into the gutter, haw-hawing as my insides are not-so-secretly twisted up in pretzeled frustration.
It’s even doubly irritating because I usually count on Lance to be the one that people laugh at, except he’s surprisingly good at bowling, the jerk!
I would never agree to participate in any sort of physical competition because I SUCK at it and can’t shrug it off with a laugh. But, I do it for Lance and his family since it means something to them, which in turn means something to me, etc. etc. Because of this, I’m happy to bowl even though I don’t really want to, and am not really good at it.
But that’s not to say I’m not keeping track of how many games of bowling we’ve playing, just waiting for the right moment to cash those chips in for something I want: a trip to Colonial Williamsburg!!!!!
[Continuing our series on the origins of Lance+Jeff! You can see our other entries here, here, and here!]
It was never a conscious choice of ours, to travel so much, but looking back to compile these posts, it’s pretty clear that going on adventures is a fundamental element of our relationship.
Our first trip together was actually the start of a rapid-fire succession of mini-trips, about five months after we began dating. We went to New York for the day to catch the original off-Broadway production of future Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal, starring Lance’s fave stage actress of all-time, Alice Ripley.
[Sidebar: Lance’s obsession with Alice Ripley started in a Tower Records. “I just saw her name on the back of a CD and I KNEW I had a connection with her!!” he describes. Stalker, much?]
Since this was supposed to be Alice’s big Broadway comeback show (“It’s a RETURN!” says Lance) after an unsuccessful detour to Hollywood and rock music, Lance was terribly excited…and nervous, since the show was still working through some kinks in this limited off-Broadway run. At that point, it was doubtful that it would even transfer to Broadway…and then what would happen to Alice??
So, after we saw the show that weekend, we decided to bus it back to New York to see it again…twice…the following week.
New York, twice in one month (not the only time we’ve done that)–a test for any couple. But wait, there’s more!
Some four days after this second NYC trip, we flew to Chicago! Lance was checking out grad school programs at the time, and both of us have a mad metropolitan crush on the Windy City.
Since that chilly March in 2008, we’ve travelled a bunch. Probably too much.
There was Universal Studios Orlando in May 2008…
DC in January of 2009 (for Next to Normal’s off-off Broadway re-tooling run):
…then Atlantic City…
…Finally back to NYC to see Next to Normal play on Broadway, just a few months before Alice won her Tony for the role (and will be forever remembered for her Tony acceptance speech.)
…Then to Las Vegas…
…And back to Chicago in October 2009…
…And then to Hawaii in April 2010, where our Lance+Jeff story will continue tomorrow:
Our first trip to Hawaii also marks quite a significant event in the long slog of our relationship (I bet you can’t guess what it is!!!1!), a turning point for our relationship, but also for our travels. Ever since this trip, we’ve gone even more travel-crazy, going back to NYC multiple times, back to Vegas two more times, then to New Orleans, Dollywood (x2), Disney World (x2), Tokyo…and I think there was even a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska in there somewhere…not to mention our trips home to Michigan…
Why does it work for us? That’s hard to say. If you don’t like the bussle and anxiety of travel, this might not be for you. Thankfully, both of us like travelling and like spending a lot of time together, though we have, over time, established guidelines and agreements so that we don’t kill each other.
This isn’t to say that we’re the world’s most-traveled couple. Obviously not! Nevertheless, our desire to hop on a plane together, to hold hands as the wheels slip free of the runway, and go off exploring somewhere…that’s in the chemistry of our relationship.
The other day as I was walking Ripley, I ran into one of our neighbors. Pleasantries were had (as every dog owner must awkwardly experience). Then the neighbor lays this one on me:
“Sooo, are the two of you interior decorators?”
Uhh, is this suburban code for something? Is she asking what I think she’s asking? Is this like the time the American Airlines flight attendant asked Lance and I if we were brothers? (Not to single you out, AA; Southwest flight attendants have asked the same thing.)
Aren’t these subtle probing questions about somebody’s sexuality a thing of the past? Why don’t you just be up front about it and ask if Kylie Minogue is in my Recently Played on iTunes?
And, really, considering that we co-habitate a one-bedroom apartment with a dog and a cat and only one car…no combination of those facts were enough to confirm your suspicions, lady? Sheesh!