Every time I stack the dishwasher, I am reminded of the first meeting I had with my (then) husband, when I told him I wanted out. I sat across the table from him in a coffee shop, as I couldn’t bring myself to have that discussion at home. We discussed the impending end of our marriage of 12 years. My voice broke, I was shaking and couldn’t hold back tears, while he talked about the fact that there was nothing left in our marriage to salvage as dispassionately as one would contemplate when to mow the lawn.
It has been a while since we separated, yet it bothers me that through those really difficult discussions, as I broke to pieces, watching my dreams of a simple, contented family life disappear into nothingness, the man I spent a third of my life with did not even feel enough compassion to just hold my hand through it as a fellow human being.
At the end, we agreed to try and be more tolerant of each other’s shortcomings and continue to be respectful towards each other as we work out the next steps. I asked him to please let me know if there were things I could be mindful of, so we can avoid unpleasantness through the transition to our separation, and he said – “yes, I hate how you stack the dishwasher, you don’t put the spoons in the right slot, can you please be mindful of that?”.
We had been together for 15 years, and married for most of that time, had travelled continents, made two beautiful little humans together, and our marriage was in tatters. Here I was telling him I want out because there was no love, respect, intimacy or trust left in our relationship, and his biggest problem with me was that I did not stack the dishwasher properly. Is that what all relationships come down to, or were there signs I continuously overlooked over the years, until the significance of our life together dropped down to nuances of how we operate household machinery?
I was so disgusted with the dishwasher, that I stopped using it completely and washed the dishes manually for a good 2 months. The dishwashing soap tore through my skin and gave me topical eczema, I probably burned my skin in scalding hot water daily, but it took a long time for me to forgive the dishwasher its transgressions. If I couldn’t forgive the inanimate dishwasher, what hope did I have to wash away the bitterness from my own soul and move forward? I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love the dishwasher now, it serves its purpose, but it will forever be a symbol of the failure of my marriage.