Things we have learned: We bought a house from people who "might" have made questionable home improvements

Dear Husband,
It is to be expected I suppose that with a 50 year old house you are going to get some issues but I think we had hoped we wouldn’t encounter them quite so soon. Like the problem this month with the toilets backing up. This wasn’t actually a catastrophe like when the shit hits the fan because after all, the poo only rose to the surface. Sorry, toilet humour, I know. But it was a dilemma which led to an expensive couple of meetings with the plumber. We probably got off lightly since we feared that we had a whole collapsed pipe under the driveway but in the end we seem to have resolved things for the next 6-12 months by replacing a small section of the pipe and having the roots cleared out of the system.
Now this type of issue can easily happen to houses like ours and is not particularly uncommon, however, since the plumber also found that we had a rather conspicuous hole between the garage and the house that had previously been disguised by a recycling box, I am inclined to believe that the former owners knew of the plumbing issues and were doing some home maintenance themselves. I think this is also supported by the fact that when we (meaning you and a friend) dug up the front yard (or rather a portion at the top of the driveway) to save us paying the plumber to do it (I think your slave labour was totally worth $700), we found more evidence of amateur plumbing.
So its not as though we can do anything about the contract of sale now or even that we know for sure that there was anything dodgy on the part of the previous owners but it is convenient to blame them. Is that wrong?
Ponderingly yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at the Firewater Festival in Sydney

Things we have learned: Sometimes I really need to apologise

Dear Husband,
I think the subtitle for this post should be that I should learn to think more before I speak.
Most people do not like to admit that they are wrong and I am clearly no exception to this general rule. I like to think that my behaviour is above reproach and that I am a considerate human being but regrettably, I can sometimes be remarkably careless. And for each of those times when this has affected you, I owe you an apology. One of the great things about a good marriage (or its equivalent) is that you get to spend your life with someone who wants to be part of and invest in your future. You take pleasure in both the giving and receiving of love and affection and you are able to relax in each other’s company. You also bare more of your soul to that person trusting that they will handle with care and use the information wisely. That person can then make things better just by being there or by saying a few well thought out words. Unfortunately however, just as easily, when those words are not well thought out, they can hurt.
I know that whilst you are reconciled with who and where you were before you met me, you are not especially proud of all of it and don’t like to be reminded of it constantly. You don’t like to be put back in the place where you are the subject of others’ ridicule or be confronted by the assumptions that you’ll never do any better than you did before or that you couldn’t even if you tried. No one wants to experience this of course and the many people who care for you today don’t believe that you haven’t already moved on from that previous stage in your life. I hope on some level that you know that. Unfortunately though, what we now sometimes mistake for good natured jibing occasionally hits a little close to home. These are sore points for you and I know this yet every once in a while I carry something too far or bring something up for which there is no need because it doesn’t make either of us better people.
I may intentionally annoy and frustrate you, I’ll admit it, but I never mean to cause you unnecessary pain. I am sorry when I hurt you by being careless with my words and I never want you to think that you shouldn’t share things with me because I can’t be trusted. I hope you understand that when I am careless, it doesn’t come from malicious intent and you can be patient whilst I learn to get past an aspect of my life that doesn’t make me proud.
Also apologetically yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken on one of our trips away to the Victorian wine country – this was on one of the vineyard warehouses

Things we have learned: Slamming doors does not make me apologise

Dear Husband,
We had a fight this month. Not a disagreement or conversation where we were merely being snippy with each other vying for the imaginary points of the self-righteous but a fight where you slammed the door to the bedroom with me still inside it and stormed out of the house before driving off in the car. That really pissed me off. The slamming me inside the room more than the driving off in a huff but in general, that was one of the few times that I’ve ever wished we had a second car. All of a sudden I felt like you had trapped me inside a building that no longer felt like a home and left me with no way to get out. It had been raining on and off so it wasn’t as if the weather was that great outside and I didn’t have any cash for the bus but I just couldn’t stay there in case you came back and wanted to talk so I left. Chancing the rain, I walked out of the house for a couple of hours and put all of your calls through to voicemail.
I don’t remember exactly what the fight was about now. I remember you trying to get your way and me not simply giving it to you but I don’t remember the why. I think I was tired of feeling like I had gone out of my way to support you when you were unemployed and that your expectations didn’t seem to have changed once you had found a job. That wasn’t of course anything that I had actually put into words to you but it was probably a strong contributor to a string of misinterpretations that led to the arguing and the leaving. You often speak in absolutes when you are upset and your opening salvos are usually in terms of blame, fault and guilt. I still don’t understand why we can’t start with a false impression or a misunderstanding instead. Do we go past that point and I don’t even notice? So we both felt terrible and I cut myself off knowing that you would be worried. I didn’t sms you to let you know that I was ok and I left you with no information other than the fact that I was gone. That was something I did need to apologise for because that was me behaving badly and I did apologise to you – eventually. When I was ready. And hopefully that means something.
Apologetically yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at the Vivid Festival honouring Lachlan Macquarie.

Things we have learned: Each job has a beginning, a middle and an end

Dear Husband,
One might argue that we have more learned “of” this phenomenon rather than learning this as a lesson in and of itself. Or maybe it is that you have learned that I think this and happen to believe that you should think this too. But maybe it is that in realising this, we now know that we see these attributes completely differently and therefore we are learning to understand where the other is coming from? Or perhaps not.
Whichever is the more correct, I think this lesson will remain a bit of a work in progress for us as a couple because from where I stand at least, I am still surprised that you are amazed when I take issue with some things. The fridge is definitely a case in point. Now that we have impoverished ourselves to some extent by buying a house, you have taken to trawling through the free classifieds for things that we might want. In addition to the things you find that we really don’t need, you managed to find a fridge that would fit in our kitchen. Now I am not knocking this. The new free fridge is great. We now have a working freezer in the house and we don’t need to go to the garage for ice cream which is awesome but we seemed to view the whole process a little differently.
Your version (and granted, I have taken poetic licence here as don’t “know”): I spent ages making sure I was checking the sites so if anything good was advertised, I could snap it straight up. When I found a great fridge, I arranged for a friend to help with their car and booked a cheap trailer so we could pick it up. After picking up the fridge, we drove it back, set it up in the house and then I cleaned it up. Done and dusted.
My version: You found a replacement fridge and planned with the neighbour to go and pick it up. You booked the trailer half an hour before you needed to be at your destination which was in fact half an hour away thus making you late (and unable to return the child along for the ride before picking up the fridge which was the original intention). When you returned, you moved the original fridge from its position into the dining room and manoeuvred the new fridge into the kitchen before returning the trolley to the neighbours. You then wiped down the new fridge and got it ready for use.
So close yet so far. You appeared completely gob-smacked that I was not happy with the fact that I now had a big fridge sitting in my dining room with no conceivable notion that it would ever be removed any time soon since you had returned the trolley already. The fact that I keep tidying up the house and try to make it homely seems to have escaped your notice or perhaps it just doesn’t compute that having a large unnecessary appliance where it does not belong would not make me happy. We had words over that and I expressed that I wanted it out of the house. I wanted it gone completely actually but since that was an unrealistic expectation at the time I said I didn’t particularly care where you put it as long as it wasn’t in the house. It is now sitting in the same place you put it that afternoon. Just like the carpet you pulled up is sitting in the same place you moved it to when I asked you to get it off the porch. And kind of like the washing up never gets put away in the cupboards unless I do it.
When you occasionally do the washing up (and yes, I acknowledge that you help out sometimes with “my jobs”) you 1. run the water, 2. wash the dishes and 3. stack them to drain. When I wash the dishes, I 1. go through the house collecting all the items that require washing up, 2. run the water before washing each of the dishes so I can move them to the draining rack and finally 3. wipe up any items that are still wet before putting them away in their correct position. Which is the proper way to wash the dishes. In my opinion.
Opinionatedly yours,
Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at a Canberra Floriade festival a few years ago.

Things we have learned: Sometimes you have to fight for what you want.

Dear Husband,
You know, it never ceases to amaze me that when you go into attack a service provider with all guns blazing. You always seem to come out much better off. You wanted phone reception in rural Victoria for the three days that you were planning to spend there in the entire year when you really didn’t have anyone you “needed” to call? Sorry sir, I can’t fix that for you but let me give you three months usage for free. You don’t happen to have in writing that you were promised additional data on your phone plan but you have a $500 bill that you don’t want to pay? I do apologise sir, allow me to waive that extra charge for you and ensure that your plan is amended in our system for its remaining life. Honestly, the stuff you get away with sometimes…
And then there was Harry Potter and the eventful event cinemas where as it turned out, it was me that got all worked up. Over baby talk. I am all for people maintaining some semblance of a life after they have children but I am not an advocate of parents bringing infants to evening sessions and allowing them to chatter repeatedly through the movie. Sure, we were not subjected to screaming or crying but the constant “da da da da da” was just as annoying. Your kid appears less than 2 years old. I don’t think they really understand “shhh!”. But this stupidity and lack of consideration (on the parents part) was then matched by the cinema who advised that their policy is to only refund movies within the first half hour and they simply could not do anything if you haven’t gone to find someone to alert them of the issue or notified an attendant at some point through the movie which I must say is complete and total bollocks.
  1. You can do whatever you want regarding refunds, vouchers and gift certificates if you are the duty manager because you did when my tirade got longer and louder. Please don’t insult my intelligence.
  2. After you have made it abundantly clear that you will never willingly choose to offer compensation after the first half hour of the movie, I am so not ever going to consider walking out halfway through in order to find a staff member and complain whilst I miss the movie I paid to see. And by the way, I don’t care if you “think” this process takes two minutes, I don’t even leave the cinema to pee because I’ll miss part of the movie.
  3. To be honest, if I am sitting smack bang in the middle of a row in front of the offending party, I am really not comfortable getting up and stepping over others to flag down the roving staff member thus making it perfectly obvious that I am the one responsible for the parents being publicly warned and possibly thrown out. So what if I’m chicken? I heard plenty of whispering that said there were a good handful of people in that theatre who felt the same as me but none of them wanted to make an exhibition of themselves either. 

Somewhat aggressively yours,

Your Loving Wife
* Photo taken at Firewater last year in Sydney – obviously.