How a new alarm clock saved my marriageKristen Howerton
They always say that couples have the same fight over and over again in their marriage. I have observed this to be true as a marriage and family therapist, and I have also observed it to be true in my own life as well. My husband and I tend to fight about the same two or three things over and over again, when it comes to issues both big and small. The bigger issues tend to revolve around dividing up domestic duties, and who feels like they are pulling more weight. But there are two other fights that Mark and I have had over and over again that are more trivial in nature.
One of those trivial fights is the fact that we we disagree on window coverings for the children’s rooms. I installed blackout curtains against his wishes in every one of the children’s bedrooms, and I’ve never heard the end of it. I did this because I am a morning person, and I don’t want bright light coming into the windows and waking them up. And if I’m honest, I also like the idea of fooling them into thinking it is still dark outside so that I can get a little more sleep. He thinks I have turned their rooms into depressing caves, and despises the fact that their rooms are dark all day unless we pull the shades.
We have another recurring fight that has s actually gone on longer than the window shade fight, and perhaps sounds even more ridiculous in the retelling. This is our fight over an alarm clock. Let me explain. Mark comes from a family that uses alarm clocks that plug into the wall. You know the kind . . . they have that square block digital display, and they require you to punch buttons repeatedly in order to set the alarm time. I come from a battery operated clock family myself. We use bedside clocks with the winding dial. I am a fan of these. For one, they just look better then those lame little up digital displays. I also think they are much easier to set, since you just wind one of the hands to points to the time, instead of furiously pushing buttons over and over again.
The problem is that Mark is completely and utterly annoyed with the noise. It is one of those things that went unnoticed my entire life, but once we were married, Mark pointed out that the clocks emit a very quiet ticking sound. Not something that has ever been on my radar, but for Mark the sound is as loud as Edgar Allan Poe’s telltale heart. He is just completely irritated by it. And I am completely irritated by the glow of the numbers on his clock, and the sound it takes for him to set it. For 15 years, we have been at an impasse.
Many nights in our early marriage Mark ended up losing his cool and putting my bedside clock into the bathroom out of frustration. In fact, for the last few years I have kept my clock in the bathroom, since I can hear the alarm from the bedroom. But that has been annoying, because I like having the clock next to my bed in case I want to check on the time at night or hit the snooze button in the morning. This has resulted in a ridiculous back-and-forth, with me moving the clock next to my bad, and then Mark moving it back to the bathroom. In a moment of clarity that only desperation can provide, I finally decided to Google the term “non-ticking alarm clocks”. And lo and behold, there is an entire world out there of dial up alarm clocks that have been engineered to operate completely quietly until you need the alarm. Who knew?
I now have one of these bad boys sitting by my bed, and slightly less strife in my marriage as a result. Now if only I could find a battery operated gadget that would motivate my husband to get his clothes out of the dryer.
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