Kim Bentz

Kim Bentz
Fairfax, Virginia,
Middle aged and starting over, falling victim to the economic downturn and my own bad judgment. ---------------------------------------------- My mind has never been changed by force or angry voices. My thoughts, opinions and convictions have been changed by the gentle wisdom of kind friends; by thoughtful prose; by great reporting; by intelligent, not demeaning, persuasively written words; and by love. Of these, the loving chastisement, gently spoken has the most power to alter the course of my thoughts. ------------------------------------------------


JANUARY 8, 2010 10:42PM

Buy a Sense of Humor

Rate: 2 Flag

I know we all fight.  Well...I know some people who don't, won't and never have.  What their secret is, I don't know.  I find myself arguing over stupid things.  Maybe I have an idealized picture of who I am supposed to be.

My husband did me a huge favor.  I am having a bad day with FM.  Aching, stiff joints, painful ankles, wrists, shoulders, back.  You name it.  So he picked up dinner and cleaned the kitchen.  In the process, he picked up Grandma's hand-braided wool rug.  "What do you want to do with this?  I don't think it belongs here."  He claims he was kidding.

 That's all it took, I'm sad to say.  It degraded to him looking around at all the things that fill our apartment and declaring, "Nothing here is mine.  Everything here is yours."  It's an exaggeration, but I about blew a gasket.  Yes, I have family heirlooms.  His family never kept or passed down much of anything.  He gave away the bookcase his father made, something which I would NEVER do.  I tried and tried to talk him out of it.

He comes from a throw away family.  I come from a keep it forever, pass it down to the kids and grandkids, overly sentimental attachments to all things once owned by or dreamed of by a family member kind of family.

Many years ago, I very painfully gave away Grandma's Duncan Phyfe table and chairs to my sister.  My husband and I looked and looked for a dining set until we finally found one we both liked.  When we were clearing out the house in Colorado, the single most painful thing for me to sell was that dining room set.  It was excrutiatingly painful to let that walk out the door.  Steve, my husband, also insisted I get rid of the living room and family room sofas and most other furniture as we couldn't afford a big enough truck to haul stuff across the country.

So I am baffled and angered when he complains that he doesn't own anything when he throws everything away.  He has the monster plasma TV, the playstation, and feels like the dresser is his, since we bought it together.  But he throws everything away!  If something gets a crack, he tosses it, rather than repairs it.  I think everything is throwaway to him.  I am obsessive about finding another home for things, or fixing and repairing things.  I spent about an hour and a half the other day making repairs to a quilted throw, by hand.  

Maybe I'm too possessive or protective of the family heirlooms and the stuff I've collected over the years.  I know I'm protective of the rug.  It is worn and beautiful, though it needs some repair work I'm too tired to do at the moment.

But in the midst of this silly argument, he throws out the punch line, "Buy a sense of humor."  This is our way of saying you're taking things too seriously or that I was kidding, why are you taking this so personally?  But I heard it in his voice, this thing he won't admit.  That the same sense I've had, the sense of loss, the sense that we are adrift is one he shares, even though he doesn't say it in the same way, or feel it in the same way.  He is thrown by this as much as, or perhaps even more than I am.

I know at least on some level, he isn't really kidding.  He really does resent my things, perhaps the fact that I have maintained my family heirlooms in the face of us losing so much else.  Or maybe he was kidding and I'm just reading into it.  

Either way, at this point, we really have no one but each other, so squabbling over whether my rug stays on the kitchen floor or not is a waste.  Maybe whenever he says something irritating I should just assume he's joking.  That could wind up really annoying him if he's serious.  But then if he's serious and irritating me, annoying him by being cheerful might be a lot of fun.  For me.

Author tags:

rug, fight

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
For what it's worth... stuff is stuff. I do not agree with the "throw away" mentality, mostly because I can't run out and buy new stuff at a whim. In his defense though I never held much sentiment towards passed down crap. Might be a man thing.
As far as a sense of humor, your marriage, and the economics of not being able to afford to split up? I feel empathy towards that.
thanks for the glimpse into your life. I suggest that rather than throw things away, give them to Goodwill. I also suggest reading deepak chopra's old book The Seven Sacred Laws of Success and I think that the 5th one is detachment. It will save you a lot of grief. And, FYI, the 5th one is the one I have the most trouble with but I believe that in theory it's practice would enhance life and relationships. Good luck.
Thanks for the comments. Trig Palin: We have no intention or need to split up, especially not over an occasional argument over the placement of a rug. But it being a man thing? I'm afraid I got the disease from my Dad, who very sentimentally even held onto the doilies that had been on his parent's tables.

Curious Volunteer: Why would I want to detach in a way that would bring me to devalue the handwork of my ancestors? I would rather have this rug, handcrafted by my grandmother, than any rug I could purchase elsewhere. However...when I do get rid of a family piece, such as Grandma's table, mentioned in the post, I determine in my own head and heart to hold no ties and no expectations. If my sister destroys it, sells it, whatever...well, that's her business. So there is detachment, but it is detachment by degrees. I determine which things I am unwilling to detach from.