Sometimes It Has Nothing To Do With The Schnitzel

G and I are having one of those weeks. We hate each other’s guts. Last night when he was asleep I walked past him lying in bed and felt the need to give him the finger. I felt better instantly. It’s amazing how a small but secret flick of the bird can make you feel so much better.

My reasons for hating his guts are ridiculous, they usually are. We will both get over ourselves in the next twelve hours and move on. That’s how it works. I don’t know if that’s what marriage is about, but it’s what our marriage is about.

About a month ago a very close girlfriend of mine was having a particularly shitty day. Aged parents, a travelling husband and extended school holidays meant that gin and a whine was required.

“If it makes you feel any better – G and I aren’t speaking to each other today” I offered in shitty day solidarity.

“Really? I can’t imagine you two like that – I always picture you both as so happy together”.

And we are. We’re very happy together, but sometimes, occasionally, I hate his guts.

My parents often hate each others guts. I’ve watched them niggle their way through fifty years of marriage. But in the time that I lived with them there was only a handful of moments of outrage. These moments almost always happened around the end of the financial year (my parents both worked in accounting). We still giggle about the time my father arrived home for dinner (knowing he’d be back at work in an hour or so) to a wiener schnitzel he obviously considered inferior. Or perhaps by the severity of his reaction, insulting. What began as a small complaint somehow escalated into a moment which involved my father picking the schnitzel up off the plate while simultaneously rubbing the breadcrumbs between his fingers like a crazy man looking for gold in the dirt. I remember noticing the veins in the side of his head were pulsing.

“What’s this?! Who sold you this rubbish? This isn’t a schnitzel!” My mother looked back at him with a look of both concern and mild amusement. My mother has a look reserved especially for my father, it comes when he’s either arrived home late from bowls after three too many beers, or is arguing the point even though he knows he’s wrong. It’s a look that says “you poor fool”.

We all sat motionless, my sister and I both in a state of shock but also bordering on the edge of excitement. Our house was seriously low on dramatic events and this was looking like it could eventuate into the most exciting thing that had happened all year. Was Dad about to go completely loco? We both tried to suppress our smirks. It wasn’t to be. He calmed down, muttered a few words about needing to change butchers and then shared what a shitty day it had been.

My mother in law offered the most invaluable piece of marriage advice just days before our wedding.

“Don’t blame each other – blame the situation.”

Sometimes it has nothing to do with the schnitzel.

In the midst of our passive aggressiveness G and I will carry on with our day as usual. We’ll text and email. Do you want to have dinner with friends on Wednesday? Shall we have an express lunch together on Thursday? I’ve changed dinner to just drinks on Thursday night. Could you turn that idea into an app? I’ll teach myself how to make the PDF invoice and he’ll forgive me for not knowing the bank account details (I told you it was stupid). And we’ll both curse the client who cannot accept our usual invoicing method, which is how this is all started.

We will move on. Will will laugh. We will hopefully learn.

There’s a corresponding look that comes after my mother’s “you poor fool”. It’s the look from my father. My most favourite look of his. It’s more of a goofy smirk, he knows he’s in the wrong, but he’s going to have some fun with it. He looks about five years old. His smirk says “What are you going to do about it? You’re stuck with me”.

I love this particularly exchange between them. His stubbornness, her mild amusement, their togetherness.

Don’t blame each other – blame the situation.

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