Ironing the creases into marriage

We’re arguing.

Two years ago I would have said this in the same tone that one would say there was smoke pouring out of the loungeroom window. But arguing today is good sign. It means we’re talking.

We’re still arguing about the same issues, though; you know the kind of stuff — those things that could change the course of the planet through the heavens, or end the global financial crisis.

Like … the correct way to iron a shirt.

I’ve grown used to ironing my shirts. Alone, without advice or criticism. I find it therapeutic to watch the crumpled fabric disappear under the iron and reappear again, smooth, accompanied by the soft hiss of steam.

“You’ve creased it.”

“No I haven’t”

“Yes you have; down the arm.”

“That’s supposed to be there.”

“No it’s not. There should be no creases in a shirt – well, not after it’s ironed.”

You will recall it’s 18 months since my wife said she didn’t love me. Then, about a month ago, she said she did. She hasn’t taken it back, so I must assume she’s not unhappy about the way I iron a shirt.


I suppose in this new-found affection for me she is inclined to look upon my flaws as cute; just as I can smile at the random way she strews crockery, cutlery and pots and pans across every work surface when any halfway sensible human being would stack them into a fraction of the space, beside the kitchen sink, where they belong!

And that’s my point. How long will it be before our endearing little ways becoming noxious to the soul and terminal to the relationship, assuming we get that far?

That was a part of how we got here in the first place – because I didn’t throw my clothes in the laundry basket; because she thinks tidying up is something you do with your face.

They say that only about two per cent of couples who separate get back together again. I assume that in the case of those who do, it’s because the men stop ironing shirts and the women stop stacking the dishes.

I should add that the only reason I care about the dishes is because it’s I who do the washing up!

This 18 months alone has taught me that I’m a very conservative housewife. I return things to drawers; I wince if someone steps across the threshold and doesn’t remove their shoes; if someone comes to dinner (it doesn’t happen often, but sometimes my kids, and even my wife once or twice) and they’re late, my back goes stiff and my mouth becomes a cat’s bum.

I am not about to take it well when someone tells me I don’t know how to iron a shirt – even when they say it with a smile. Even if they’re right!

So where does this leave us?

Wish I knew.

If we were just starting out dating we would probably have thought it all terribly amusing and used it as an opportunity to fall into bed together. But we’re not starting out. I don’t think we even know how dating is done any more.

But I don’t think it’s supposed to involve arguing. Pity; we’d be champions.