The Art of the Marital Nonviolent Protest

To make peace with an enemy one must work with that enemy and that enemy becomes one’s partner. – Nelson Mandela

Isn't it interesting that,often, our hormones dictate how we first determine life partners? We are attracted to a person- their looks, their smile, laugh, and yes, their personality, their values, their beliefs, and in many ways their lifestyle.

In our culture today, we decide if we want to spend the rest of our lives with someone because they are attractive, they believe in what we believe in, value what we value, and our ideas of the future are similar. (This is not a comprehensive list, or a thesis paper, so you must give me a break. I give myself 60 minutes tops to power blog post and I do not research on anything before writing. I know, real quality here.)Anyway, I'm curious about this dude who is the founder of eharmony.com. I always see him on TV, touting the success of his online match making site. The company has a big assessment that you take that supposedly matches you up with the perfect mate(s), taking the trouble out of trying to figure it out yourself. Sometimes, I'd like to take the assessment and see who pops up. Not because I am looking to jump ship, but because I want to know what this assessment is all about. Here's why.

I just love Andy to pieces. We have the same values, the same beliefs, and for the most part agree on lifestyle decisions and how to raise our family. (disclaimer- for the most part) Most importantly, clearly, is that I still think he's cute. Yet, there's this one area where we are less compatible. I wonder, if we'd been asked to live together for 10 years before getting married, if we would have still decided to say I do. Sometimes, it is like War of the Roses when it comes to being housemates. Sure, when I first met him, I knew that he was notoriously late, talked on his cell phone non-stop (Think Zack Morris)and I couldn't see the carpet in his bedroom. I was young and in love. Sigh. None of that matters when you meet your true love. And they lived happily ever after.

Until thirteen years later when she threatened to throw all of his toy soldiers into a dumpster and he swore he'd check himself into the loony bin if she wouldn't stop leaving her dirty tea cup under the couch each night.Ok, eharmony Guru, do you ask these questions in your compatibility assessment? Do you have the secret to knowing how long or how much someone can stand another's living habits?

We just celebrated ten years of marriage and we've co-habitated for twelve, so, even without taking an assessment, we've figured out how to make this work. Andy has a technique he uses and I like to call it marital nonviolent resistance. This is how it goes. Every day, Andy pulls back the curtains in the bedroom, well, all but one. I ask him to pull it back. I ask him why he doesn't pull it back. He walks away while I am talking. He doesn't pull it back. There's no shouting, punching, fist fights, or arguments. There's no coup. He just quietly resists doing what I tell him do. He achieves his goal, of not listening to his wife, through symbolic protest. It's particularly symbolic to me as it has been taking place 365 days a year for 5 years. A few more examples. I ask him not to drink soda or place his soda can on the mantle. I explain to him that the mantle is decorative and a half sipped can of Diet Coke is not pretty. I demand that he move the can to a side table or the kitchen counter. He's not a pacifist. Let's be clear. He takes a stand. He makes his message clear. He refuses to move the can. There it sits, each day, right next to my Yankee Candle Orange Spice candle and pretty paperweight. I ask him to be on time. I plead with him. I demand it. I threaten, dictatorially, to take away his rights, the rights we agreed upon for our democratic marriage.

Kudos to you, Andy. Bravo. Following in the steps of Ghandi, and Mandela, to fight for all mankind. Marriage, to some, may be a life sentence but you are demonstrating how one man can lead a revolution.

Well, I've got news for you. Two can play this game. I learned it from watching you, sensei. I, too, have been practicing my own version of marital nonviolent resistance, in the truest sense. It bothers you to no end that I leave coffee cups in the car. They rattle around in the back, threatening to crack into shards. You tell me this must not occur again. You demand that I take my coffee cups back into the house. What do I do? I play protest music like the theme song to Malcolm in the Middle. Yeah, you take that! Down with the man! You're not the boss of me!

Andy, You tell me that I clean the house on my day off. I picket. I march. I hold a vigil and by that I mean, I go into town for a run and then have a cup of coffee. Which I will then later leave in the back of the car. I take it to the next level. I do community education and conscious raising. I lobby for others to get on my side. I make sure that other wives hear my plea, side with me, and agree to join the cause. Hell No! We Won't Go...to the grocery store and get you a six pack of beer. Get it yourself!

Dear Andy, you ignore me for a week and then try to pinch my butt while I get the girls their morning cereal. This is not acceptable. I protest with boycotts and sanctions. You know what I mean.

Marriage is so odd. We are in love and at war simultaneously. And who wins? We both do because misery loves company and we both know how to make each other happy and how to quietly push the others' buttons just enough to keep things interesting.

Please, don't be offended by my play on a very important concept in social and political history. You can be offended about me making fun of Andy though, but I don't care.

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