Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Areas where my husband and I are not compatible

Luckily for our marriage, Torsten and I have quite a bit in common, especially when it comes to the big things. We have similar views on religion, money, lifestyle, morals, kids, travel, and so on. This makes our marriage very smooth for the most part.

However, there are some things that we don't see eye-to-eye on. Most of these are (as you'll see) quite minor and really more funny than anything else. And in some cases they are actually quite enriching.

1. Rights and freedoms. It's not exactly that we don't see eye to eye on this, but simply that Torsten brings a very German perspective to these things. Germany has lots of rights and freedoms, and is very good about guaranteeing civil rights, but unlike the U.S., they don't value freedom of speech above all else. Much Nazi-related speech is banned, for example, and laws about what you can say in ads (regardless of the fine print) are much stricter. Often we will be discussing something that's happened and Torsten will wonder aloud why someone was allowed to do or say a certain thing. And you know what? I find that what he's saying often makes a lot of sense. Freedom of speech is very important, yes, but I think it's very easy for us in the U.S. to take it too far and argue for free speech even in cases when it's detrimental to the greater good.

2. Movies. I like quiet character study movies, and chick flicks, and period pieces. Torsten likes action movies with lots of high-speed chases and explosions, and thrillers, and Quentin Tarantino. There is basically no overlap here. We do both like animated movies, though. Thank god for Pixar and Dreamworks or we would never go to the movies, ever.

3. Bedtime. Torsten starts work earlier than I do, and works longer hours than I do, meaning by the late evening he's already feeling tired. He often wants to go to bed before 10. I prefer more in the range of 10:30. He also likes to listen to the radio while he's falling asleep, while I need silence to fall asleep. Often the way this ends up playing out is that he will go to bed a bit before me and listen to the radio for awhile, and then I'll join him before he falls asleep and we'll turn the radio off and fall asleep together. Or we'll read in bed together for awhile with the radio on before turning it off and going to sleep.

4. Owning a cat. I've mentioned this one before, and got reamed by a couple of commenters (anonymous, of course) because apparently my desire not to own a cat means that I'm a dictator in my marriage? Regardless, I have a fairly strong aversion to the idea of owning a cat (though I do like petting other people's cats), while Torsten likes them and would love to have one in the house. I could maybe be convinced on this point over time, except that a) my mother is allergic to cats so it would be difficult for her to visit us if we had a cat, and b) Montana has clearly demonstrated her dislike for cats, and we don't think she'd be so happy to coexist with one. And I have to say I'm not too disappointed about these things.

5. Cakes and cookies. Torsten likes dense, dry, German-style cakes and crunchy white cookies made with jam or nougat. I like lightweight, fluffy cakes with lots of frosting and soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies. This doesn't come up that often because we don't tend to venture into the land of cake and cookies regularly, but at Christmas it means that we each do our own baking. (And last year my cookies were more popular than his with my coworkers, so there.)

6. Music. I admit that I have fairly crappy taste in music. I like pop, and some classics, and 80s music, and independent folksy style artists like Regina Spektor, Sara Bareilles, Dar Williams, and Catie Curtis. Torsten tends to like classic rock like Guns n Roses and Aerosmith. We do have some overlap, though--we both like Coldplay, Snow Patrol, etc.

7. Menorahs. The search is on for our family menorah, and unfortunately it turns out that we have totally opposite taste in them. Torsten likes very traditional candelabra-style menorahs, while I like more modern, original designs. So far we have not found anything that we can compromise on. We will continue to look until we do.

What about you? In what areas do you and your significant other differ?


  1. I once dated a guy who couldn't fall asleep without a fan blowing. It dried out my skin, eyes and throat. It was rather miserable. But then, years later, when it was suffocatingly hot here in Seattle and I had to sleep with multiple fans on, I realized how soothing it is. Go figure.

  2. My boyfriend loves action movies, the more violent the better. I like chick flicks, romantic comedies, dramas, period pieces, pretty much exactly what you described as your likes. We either don't go to the movies together or we trade off and the person whose "type" of movie we're going to see is the one who pays. That is how I saw District 9 (blech) and he saw 500 Days of Summer (aww).

  3. At least none of those seem like dealbreakers! You have some pretty healthy compromises.

  4. I always knew Montana was a smart dog ... hahaha.

    Sweets and I differ on only a few things ... Alton Brown (he loves; I tolerate), beets (he loves; I don't touch), beer (he loves dark; I prefer light) and meat (when we first started dating, he'd order meat medium well; I think I've finally convinced him that if it's a good cut of meat, you want it medium rare; only the bad meat should be cooked through like that).

  5. I LOVE DAR WILLIAMS! That is SO not crappy taste in music. That is EXCELLENT TASTE IN MUSIC.

    I'm sort of embarrassed to say this, but P and I have become MORE ALIKE. We used to have some of the usual daily incompatibilities, but either they've dropped in importance or life has just changed. But I've also become more of a Tech Geek since living with him and he's become more of a TV Afficionado. SCARY.

  6. My husband and I both like quirky movies (Think Cohen brothers) and indy movies so there usually isn't a fight over what we see in the theater. I'd rather stick a fork in my eye then watch a romantic comedy or period piece. I like a chick-flick here and there (Steel Magnolia's is one of my all-time favs), but would gladly choose a Quentin Tarantino movie over a Sandra Bullock/Meg Ryan (whoever is the big chick-flick star these days) movie.

    We both hate cats - especially other people's cats that rub up aganist your legs when you are least expecting it. The thought makes me shutter. But my hate borders on fear and his is just a general dislike. We are not only both dog people but big-dog people. We are in agreement that dogs under 20 pounds are just slightly above cats on the likable scale.

    When it comes to TV we differ a lot. He could spend all night watching Discovery and the History Channel and while I'll watch Dirty Jobs (Hello cutie Mike Rowe!!) or maybe Myth Busters I will not sit through some boring military history show. He can't even be in the room when I'm watching Grey's because the show makes him crazy. He also doesn't appreciate my adoration for all things Alton Brown on the Food Network.

    Sleep-wise we both need white noise (usually a fan) to fall asleep but he is an all-night cuddler while I need my space. I'm always waking up with his arm flung over me and I hate it...don't touch me when I'm sleeping!

  7. i had an ex who always wanted a fan on too. it drives me NUTS. i can sleep through almost anything - music! tv! lights on! cats playing with my head! but air blowing on my face is apparently where i draw the line ;-P

  8. The difference that most sticks out in my mind is a personality difference. If I get mad, I usually have a volcanic eruption, yell, and...then I apologize, and I'm over it. My husband, on the other hand, gets mad and then holds a grudge for two/three days. If we get in a fight--no matter how minor/stupid--I know that the next two days I will get the cold shoulder from him. He sees it as self-preservative--he claims he doesn't talk to me so that he WON'T say hurtful/mean things to me, thus saving our marriage. I see it as his PUNISHING me for my dumb, volcanic, yelling streak--for which I APOLOGIZED, and he should be OVER it, already!

    Don't know WHY that would stick in my mind THIS WEEK--couldn't have anything to do with a really, really dumb, stress-induced, pitiful outburst we had on Halloween night resulting in my having to put up with almost three days of hurtful silences, could it????

    Other that that, we're like peas and carrots! LOL

  9. I LOVE this stuff. It's so interesting. My husband and I have mostly differing tastes in movies, too--I think this might be a DEMOGRAPHIC thing, hence the term "chick-flick"--although we can both usually enjoy odd, quiet movies (like "The Band's Visit"). HOWEVER, he doesn't like to go out to movies, so even before we had kids we never left the house. Except to go FISHING. Which is another area upon which we differ.

    The two biggest areas of difference, though, are:

    1. If there's a problem to be fixed, he likes to do it RIGHT AWAY, dropping everything to call about the billing mistake or reprogram the computer for HOURS. I like to fret and plan and address the problem after preparation, such as a few months of hoping-it-will-go-away. Uh, his way usually works better.

    2. Around the house and particularly the yard, he likes to take care of messes ONCE and be DONE. This works fine for things like trees that need to be cut down, or filing situations that require new infrastructure, but less well for things like laundry or lawn mowing. Hence, I tend to take care of a lot of the daily/weekly chores. Fortunately, another difference: I like yard work, mostly. It feels like pleasant puttering. My husband hates it.

  10. I go to bed earlier than hubby. I always try to convince him to come earlier - He can watch TV in bed - But he prefers to go to bed when he is done reading/watching TV.

    He likes to watch historical documentaries. I like to watch the news and sitcoms.

  11. We don't agree on movies either, so we usually just compromise. One time I pick, next time he picks. The big thing is politics. We have different views there.

  12. We have differing sleep styles, too. I like the quiet; he likes the TV on. BLURGH! I can't STAND the tv on. So we've compromised with a fan for white noise, and we're both quite happy for it.

    One of DH's dictator things is towels. They all must be folded exactly the same, and face exactly the same direction in the closet. It's an odd little twitch of his, but one I humor.

  13. Ooh, this is so fun and interesting!

    I love total silence when going to sleep, but Jason will have the light on to read a book and have the TV blaring at the same time. Most nights it's not an issue, but when I'm twitchy and can't fall asleep, UGH.

    He wants to handle things immediately. If I want to wait (even if it's 10 minutes because I'm in the middle of something else), he considers that procastinating. I consider him insane. :)

    The heat. He would prefer to never turn it on, ever, and I would like it on 70 during the winter. We compromise: he wears shorts and I bundle up in a comforter, and the thermostat stays at 65-66.

  14. I like cats and own 2, but sometimes I hate owning them, especially when we have allergic guests in the house (which is relatively frequent). I would never slight anyone for NOT wanting to own a cat.

    My husband and I disagree on the finer points of politics, child rearing strategies, and what constitutes a good dessert. I'm sure there's others, but that's what pops into my head today.

  15. 1. Video games - I sort of think they are the devil. Lazy, violent, etc. He thinks they are funfunfun and good for hand eye coordination. That might be true, but STILL.

    2. Complicated electronics. The more complex the whole TV/surround sound/receiver/cable box/DVR/HD thing gets, the less likely I am to use it AT ALL. And the more likely I am to be snarky about the cable bill.

    3. Using the fan AND the space heater. Husband requires white noise to sleep, and if we don't use both, the temperature gets all unpleasant "no matter what" and so we have warring electronics. I tried to make him try a white noise machine, but those were all terrible. Really I think he should just suck less at sleeping.

    You might notice these are all disagreements where I am obviously RIGHT. It's because I'm amazing, and I don't have any faults.

  16. You totally do not have crappy taste in music!

    My boyfriend is very shy and introverted and I'm the talker.

    I love going to the movies -- before dating me, it had been years since he'd been to the movies.

    He is a morning person -- I'm...well, I'm not a morning person.

    He hates driving in the city and in snow -- neither bother me so my car gets more miles.

    Thus far, our few differences aren't big issues.

    As for the Menorah - what about getting 2? Take turns using each as the primary one but maybe have one in the kitchen or dining room and one in the living room? I am a half-Jew so I have a Menorah and a Christmas tree - both make me happy!

  17. I have to have a fan on while I sleep otherwise I can't sleep. My boyfriend likes to play NPR while he sleeps, but I can't sleep with people talking. We have a compromise like yours where we alternate.

  18. At this point in my life, I don't think I could be with someone if we didn't have similar taste in movies and music, and similar politics to me. Maybe that seems shallow, but there are enough good-looking, intelligent (and whatever other criteria one might have) people around that there's no point in settling for someone with whom there would be conflict about such basic things.

    Also, I only like cool things, so if people don't like the same things I like, it means they're lame. Obviously.

  19. This was so humorous I had to write a post of my own. Thanks for the inspiration Jess! It's funny how in some ways you can be so compatible with your significant other and get along swimmingly, but then be polar opposites at the same time. It keeps it entertaining that's for sure!

  20. Great post.
    A) Regina Spektor is not crappy music.
    B) My husband is way more money-minded than I am. Read: smarter with money. And more careful with it. That's the biggest difference between us. I tend to make my decisions much more on an emotional level and his on a logical level. I'd say those are the biggies.
    I might have to write a post about this! Fascinating to read people's answers.

  21. This is such a cute post! IT's good that you guys don't agree on everything, keeps it more interesting :)

  22. The husband and I disagree on gay rights, the death penalty, and abortion in certain cases. Sounds like a recipe for disaster but it works out.

    Meanwhile, the effing fan that runs 12 months a year in the bedroom? Arrrrghhhh!

  23. We have a ton things we aren't compatible on- movies, food, etc. Some of them are a serious irritation, but I'd hate to be with someone who agreed with me all the time.

  24. I might have to do a post about my husband and I on my blog.

    I am an early morning person; I get up at 5:20 every weekday and usually before 8 on the weekend. I think sleeping is a waste of time. My husband's idea of sleep is 10 hrs at night and a 3 hr nap.

    He loves watching historical and military documentaries while I hate those. so I'll read a book while he watches those.

    He drives in the slow lane and passes slower people; I drive in the fast lane and move over o let faster people pass me by.

    :-) Ok long post coming on my blog soon.

  25. We are VERY much the same as you guys. Minus the Menorah. Your description of sleep habits is us exactly.

  26. I'm more similar to you, I like soft and chewy cookies too. And really not into cats, I'm more like Montana on this :)

    Although in terms of movies, I could watch chick flick and romantic comedy then enjoy action movies too. I happen to like Tarantino as well :D

  27. You have inspired me! I have been looking for a way to express my husband's and my differences without people thinking that we were the most incompatible couple on the planet. You have helped me break through my writers block. Thank you!

  28. Love those anonymous commenters! I much prefer a dissenting opinion when the person is willing to stand behind it. Oh well, such is the blog life. I would love a cat (sort theory), B is dead against it. If one person's a no-way, that's the way it goes. If I needed a cat in my life, I wouldn't have married a cat hater, ya know?

    B needs a fan to fall asleep, so I've become accustomed to it. Funny how all of a sudden the quirks become normal to us too!

  29. I would never own a cat either....I'm a dog person. Don't worry about the anonymous posters. Everyone has their opinions- and I share yours!

  30. Like Maggie above, my other half and I have got a bunch more alike since living together. He's become more of a TV-watching homebody while I am now much more switched on to science and technology. We do still have great political debates but we are basically disagreeing about really minor points on the same side.