New Math: One Plus One Should Equal Two - But What If It Doesn't?
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October 14, 2014

I hate housework. I hate it the way some people hate eating their vegetables or driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. My husband knew this about me way before we ever got hitched and yet, the day we said “I do” it was as if all memory of my compunction had been washed away. Not only was this astounding, but it was really annoying. I had lived with the man for five years and yet he’d conveniently forgotten that I was to housewifery what Elton John was to casual clothing.

Having taken leave of his senses, he began to scold me on a regular basis about my anti-domestic ways. Nothing was ever clean enough, tidy enough, shiny enough for him. For some reason he had gotten it into his head that when I’d said “I do”, it meant “I do windows.” And I began to suspect that something just wasn’t adding up.

At my behest, we tried the democratic method of dividing the household chores; kind of a 50-50 proposition. But in the end 90% of the work fell to me and once again, things just didn’t make sense. I would do all the grocery shopping and cook dinner almost every night, after which he would promptly wash his plate, silverware and glass and exit the kitchen with a “Be sure you clean up after yourself,” thrown over his shoulder. That meant I was left not only with my personal dishes but with all the dishes I’d used to prepare the meal, including the pots and pans. He would leave hairs in the bathroom sink; I would rinse them away. He would leave papers and laundry strewn about; I would pick them up. And on and on it went.

One day, he got it into his head that I personally created more of the recycling than he did and we really got into it. This issue was actually based upon the fact that there were more dog food cans than anything else in the recycling bin, and according to him that was my fault. Suddenly, he had decided that OUR dogs were MY dogs when it came to their refuse. When I pointed out the sheer absurdity of this notion he let it go and went sulking off, leaving me to wonder how I was going to subtract this interaction from the mounting list of bizarre behaviors he had begun to exhibit.

Before long I began to take stock of my husband and his fuzzy math. He always seemed find a way to stack the deck against me, all the while proclaiming us to be equal partners in our life together. I had to pay 50% of our monthly bills even though he made twice what I did. And even though he had vowed to give me all his love for better or worse, I considered myself lucky if I got even a fraction of that.

As the wedge between us grew exponentially the quotient of me plus him no longer made sense. Even at the bitter end he had the math all wrong. “You’re responsible for 50% of the things that went wrong with this marriage, “ he proudly stated, as if this was a fact he’d thought long and hard about and hadn’t just pulled out of his ass. “No,” I informed the absent-minded professor. “We are each responsible for 100% of our own behavior!” He stared at me as if I had just slapped him. But it was the truth. The real problem was he hadn’t a clue what his part in things had even been, despite their percentages. He thought he’d been the model husband, which would have been funny had it not been so pitiful. But that’s what deep denial can do to a person; it makes them forget how to put two and two together.

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