© 2021
In touch with the world ... at home on the High Plains
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Passive Aggressive Progression

Ways To Subscribe

One of the lessons we’ve been learning through this long, long, long, long, loooooooong time at home is the difference between assertive, passive aggressive, and flat out aggressive...

When a person is cooped up with family 24 hours per day for months on end, one hopes the best and noblest of intentions may rise to the top. A person’s mettle – a deep and abiding strength of character – could manifest. Trying circumstances should bring out a sense of community and make us all truly appreciate our loved ones at a visceral level. Or not.

How one responds to minor, yet persistent, annoyances is often a test. For example, if a snack wrapper – or seven -- is left on the floor, the assertive spouse might say, “Hey, looks like you forgot to throw your trash away. Please pick that up.”

By contrast, the passive aggressive partner would say, “Who left this snack wrapper out? The snack wrapper that is from a Chico-stick? I don’t care for Chico-sticks, and neither do the kids, but maybe one of them decided to try them and left the wrapper on the table rather than throwing it away. No? Oh. You left it out? Okay. I’ll throw it away for you. No big deal. I needed to get to work anyway. I understand you’ve been super busy getting through the eleventh season of Happy Days.

The truly aggressive person would say something like this: “I know this Chico-stick wrapper is yours because no one else likes them. Stop leaving your sh&* around for me to pick up. I’m done. This is going up your nose.”

I am proud to say that throughout the 2020 pandemic, I only resorted to true aggression on rare occasions, and I never once shoved a Chico-stick wrapper up Joel’s nose. He may have found a few wrappers in his shoes, but never did I violate his nasal cavity.

Another example of a minor annoyance that may result in the full array of responses ranging from assertiveness to aggression is the proverbial leaving up of the toilet seat. I actually prefer that our toilet seats and lids are down before flushing. This nitpicky preference is a result of a roommate in college who described, in ghastly detail, how flushing toilets with their lids up releases millions of droplets of feces and urine-laden water into the air. These microscopic poop bombs drift malevolently through the bathroom, landing on toothbrushes, make-up applicators, and clean washcloths. We don’t even realize we are brushing our teeth with other people’s poop! Although I have to say, I don’t find the prospect of brushing my teeth with my own feces much more appealing. We don’t even know we are washing our faces with clothes literally covered in pee! I mean!

Putting the lid down is even more important during a pandemic. We are using our home toilets way more (lord knows the toilet paper rationing taught us all that). And, apparently, coronavirus germs are present in sewage. Ewww!

I have tried to explain this concept to my family using scientific method and peer-reviewed research examples, but as we all know, science is on the outs around here. So, I’ve tried assertive behavior. “Put the seat and lid down before you flush, everyone! Thanks!” I’m sure that listeners can guess how well that worked.

I’m mildly ashamed to admit that I’ve resorted to passive aggressive behavior in the toilet lid saga as well: “I know you all like to use feces as toothpaste, but I prefer not to. If you’re too busy to spend the .00006 seconds it takes to put the lid down on the toilet, I guess I will just have to buy a $300 ultraviolet sanitizing light to use on my toothbrush every day.” Once, I was merrily boiling a kettle-full of toothbrushes in the kitchen when my son walked in. He took a peek in the pot and yelped. “New recipe!” I announced. “Hope you like yours ‘al denture’.” Dashiell wasn’t amused.

I haven’t gotten full-on aggressive yet with the toilet lid issue though, mainly because I don’t like to lurk outside bathroom doors waiting for people to finish. I can’t catch the perpetrator, and of course, no one will fess up to leaving the lid up. Never mind. I’ll take care of it. I’ve got nothing better to do. The rest of my family is simply too busy to pitch in. I can just add daily toothbrush sanitizing to my chore list.