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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Eight Things That Spouses of Only Children Need to Know

Photo by Wicker Paradise
Hubby and I are coming up on our sixteenth anniversary, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we’ve changed and grown since slipping the rings on each others' fingers and thinking “now God is in his Heaven and all is right with the world”.
You know, before we had our first knock-down-drag-out.
I mean disagreement.
One of the big differences between us that caused issues very early on—perhaps even on our wedding day, looking back at some particularly egregious events… um… never mind—stems from the fact that while my husband is the oldest of five children, I grew up without near-age siblings.
That disparity has enormous implications for a relationship. Like, if a wildebeest married a parrot. Or a silverback gorilla mated up with an angelfish. Or a Venus flytrap tried to set up housekeeping with a ladybug.
There are eight things my husband has learned over the years about being married to an only child.
1. Only children don’t know how to divvy up stuff or allocate space and resources. And we don’t care that we don’t know. Closet space. Blankets. The Bathroom. What is this “sharing” of which you speak?
When we returned from our honeymoon my dearest darling asked, “Which dresser drawers do you want?” I blinked hard, then replied, “What do you mean, ‘which’?”
This continues to be an ongoing source of contention. I don’t want to wait for someone else to spit in the sink before I can finish brushing my own teeth. Just, ew.
2. On the flip side, because we only children experienced no peer-threats to our survival while growing up, we are typically not greedy or grabby. We will take a serving of food which meets our present meal-time need and then pass it along. Until we discover that you, Spouse with Siblings, make a practice of grabbing the best food first and shoveling onto your plate not an amount which leaves an equal portion to each remaining person at the table, but the amount which you think you might like to eat in total over the next week. Then we hate you.
3. Only children like quiet. Really a lot. So stop talking to us while we’re reading. Or thinking. Or thinking about reading.
4. Only children like complete control over our environments. If I wanted music to be playing, I would put it on. Should I need more light, I would switch on a lamp. Were I cold, or hot, I would adjust the thermostat accordingly. Why would you alter these things without consulting me first? And people say only children are self-centered. Geez.
5. Only children don’t enjoy conflict and we don’t start out a marriage knowing how to argue well/effectively. We are excellent researchers, however, given our preference for lots of time in solitude and quiet, and we can and will learn to fight. We will then decimate you and your logic and your inner psychological landscape with the studied force of our malevolence if you insist upon forcing conflict upon us. But we will never consider verbal battle a hobby, pastime, or recreational activity the way you do.
6. Only children lack manipulation skills. We were told what to do by our parents and we did it. If something didn’t get done, they knew who blew the job off. If we broke something, our mothers and fathers needed no investigative skills to determine the culprit. We never learned duplicity or subterfuge or obfuscation. We are truly hobbled in terms of getting our way and getting things done and making our way through the world.
7. Only children are, however, adept hiders, both physically and psychologically. This may seem counterintuitive, since we never had to hide from brothers and sisters bent on murdering us. But we knew that every spanking, every scolding, every lecture was prepared especially and exclusively just for us. So we know how to make ourselves scarce.
And finally:
8. Only children tend to be behind the curve in math skills, because without siblings we didn’t learn subtraction and division and fractions by the age of two and a half, like you did. We can’t tell at a glance which hand holds 35 M&Ms and which one has 36. We never had to meticulously slice a cookie into equal portions, nor did we ever cry, “That’s not half! She got 9/16ths and I only got 7/16ths! No fair!
In conclusion, as we approach the completion of sixteen years of marital blitz—I mean bliss—there is just one thing I’d like to say to my sibling-ed other half: stop grabbing handfuls of popcorn out of the bowl. That’s not sharing. I’m serious. You’re supposed to eat it one puffed kernel at a time. That’s, like, common knowledge.
And stop calling me, “Only Child.”

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