I want to share J's dishwasher stacking technique It comes from the 'Randomly Shoved In' school & drives me nuts!
There are points of tension in every relationship.
Flirtatiousness, timekeeping, finances, how you discipline the children, whether you have children in the first place. I've known each of these to cause immense disruption to the harmony of relationships and indeed, sadly in some cases, cause them to end.
For us our the epicentre of the very little tension that exists in our relationship is the dishwasher.
It even featured in our marriage vows, so much of a threat is it to the otherwise Zen like harmony of our home.
You know those really really annoying people who eat after eight mints and then put the empty wrappers back in the box? You think there are loads there, but in fact you end up searching through the box as if it were a filing cabinet within which the most important, yet elusive, papers on earth are filed. Eventually realising that they have in fact all been eaten and the corner shop will by now have shut.
J is one of those people.
Early on in our relationship, as we moved in together, I thought I would be helpful by taking control of the washing up as I generally left home after he did in the morning. Taking the breakfast things from the table, I'd stack the dishwasher and then set it to wash before I left.
Except that the first time I went to get some tablets out of the box I had to riffle through a thick layer of empty dishwasher tablet wrappers before I found a whole tablet right at the bottom of the box.
My unhappiness about placing empty dishwasher wrappers back in the box, and J's ability to totally block this out, became a feature of our banter over the coming years.
Then we decided to get married.
The lead up to our civil partnership was pretty busy for both of us, but especially J. Working for myself I had the time to sort out most of the arrangements, whereas he did not, tied to the hospital as he was.
I organised the Town Hall and all of the paperwork, that was easy enough as I was a local councillor and therefore in and out of the building much of the time. I also organised the reception, again, simple to do as I owned the venue in which it was to be held.
J was left with two jobs. The first was to write the vows. The second was to organise the music.
There were two deadlines for these jobs. The vows needed to be presented to the Registrar a week ahead of time to check that they were acceptable. The music needed to be burned to a CD and given to the Town Hall on the Thursday before our ceremony on the Saturday.
Monday morning came. I asked for the vows. J mumbled something about being too busy and the standard ones would do. So off I went to sort out the vows alone grumbling as I went that he had better make sure the music was ready for Thursday.
Thursday morning came, I asked over breakfast for the CD of music he had chosen for the Town Hall. There was a pause. A long, pregnant pause.
"You haven't done it, have you?" I asked accusingly, my eyes narrowing.
"Yes, yes, I have. Just a minute." J disappeared upstairs.
He appeared a few minutes later bearing a CD. "There are a few songs on here that will do," he said, handing me 'The Immaculate Collection - Madonna's Greatest Hits.'
I raised one eyebrow. "I think even our mother's won't believe us if we walk down the aisle to 'Like a Virgin.'
So I spent my morning burning a disc with some Bach and other favourite songs on it.
Anyone who was at our wedding describes it as one of the best they had ever been to. I think they may just be being very kind. But we had a brilliant day and everyone seemed to enjoy it, even though the guests were a fairly eclectic bunch of people.
Senior doctors mixed with journalists, MPs mixed with drag queens. Our families just looked on bemusedly throughout.
During the ceremony we came to the part where we said our vows. I'd agreed with the Registrar that I would go first. She had me repeat the standard words I'd chosen.
Then she paused. Making as if to turn to James, she turned back to me with some dramatic effect.
"And," she said, "I promise not to buy newspapers and never read them, as I know this annoys you very much!"
I dutifully repeated the words to a background of chuckles from our friends and family.
The Registrar went through the same standard vows with J. Then she paused again.
"And," she said dramatically.
J looked at me and rolled his eyes. Our audience began to laugh as most by now had guessed what was coming, such was the notoriety of J's greatest misdemeanour.
"I promise not to put empty dishwasher tablet wrappers back in the dishwasher tablet box, as I know this annoys you very much!"
Our friends and family cheered, and J made his solemn vow.
That was a number of years ago now and, mostly, J has kept to his vow.
His dishwasher stacking abilities have deteriorated though. He comes from the 'Randomly Shoved In' school of dishwasher stacking. Items are placed chaotically across the trays.
I point out that undoubtedly millions of pounds has been spent by dishwasher developers designing the racking inside the machine to ensure that items stacked in their proper places wash most efficiently.
He ignores me.
I sometimes wonder whether he does it deliberately so I take responsibility for the dishwasher permanently. The children even get involved now. Our three year old daughter told him the other day, "don't do that, you're rubbish at it," as he began to load plates into the racks designed for glasses.
I also wonder whether I just have Dishwasher OCD.