I remember learning in a high school psychology class that the average person can keep about seven things in mind at the same time. Add an eighth and one of the first seven gets knocked out.
I'm reminded of this when Paul seems able to retain only a very small number of household instructions. If I say, "Do not put food down the sink. We do not have a garbage disposal," he will stop putting food down the sink. If I say, "Please take out the trash when it's full, rather than standing in the trash can to compress the trash so tightly that it can no longer be removed without ripping the bag," he will start taking the trash out instead of stomping it. But then if I say, "You can't just rinse a cup when you're done drinking out of it and put it in the drying rack, you have to use actual soap and washing motions," he will wash his cup--and then scrape food off his plate into the sink.
I am not sure I can adequately express how frustrating this has been over the dozen or so years Paul and I have shared a household. It isn't as if I'm a difficult, controlling person making up complicated, arbitrary rules. I think the things I ask him to do are intuitive, or at least easy to remember once mentioned. I think a normal person should be able to retain the information that if you put sticky brown soda in a cup and then you put your germy mouth on the edge of that cup, a little swish with cold water is not "washing" the cup. I think a normal person should be able to remember that information even if I then add new information, such as that if your shoes track huge clumps of mud down the hallway, you should clean that mud up rather than leaving it there.
But apparently he can't. Before we were married, I got as far as calling around to find out the cost of studio and 1-bedroom apartments, thinking that probably I shouldn't stay with a man who was going to drive me so crazy. After we were married but before we had children, I wondered if I should be willing to help him pass on his genes. Post-children, I've again and again felt despair, like I'm shackled permanently to someone who would whistle in a clean-conscience way as he peed into a kitchen sink filled with dishes. (In the interest of fairness, I should say that he does not in fact do this. As far as I know. But then again, I didn't realize until recently that he wasn't washing his cups.)
There comes a point where it is useless to continue trying to change someone. I think I reached this point ten years ago or more, but I can't make myself stop trying. It just seems so REASONABLE that he should learn these things, and so UNREASONABLE that I should have to keep mentioning them in my kind and patient and trying-hard-not-to-be-shrill-or-naggy voice.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...