Neither Phil nor I are very confrontational people. We're not a couple who have massive yelling matches or get in each other's faces. No, the most aggressive Phil and I get with each other is a bit of sarcasm and the occasional elevated voice (and then we know it's serious). Oh and I do gesticulate behind his back occasionally. I'm pretty sure that's reciprocal.
The biggest weapon in our argument arsenal, is The Sulk. Phil is particularly adept at The Sulk (boy he's going to love that I'm telling you this). The Sulk involves not actually saying what's wrong, just letting the other person know you're really shitty with them and they have to work it out themselves. And if they do work it out, you deny that's why you're pissy. In fact, you deny that you even are pissy. You continue The Sulk until the other person gets so fed up with trying to crack your mood that they themselves descend into a foul mood. At this point, The Sulker knows they have won and plays their trump card: they come out of the The Sulk and then make out that the other person is clearly the one with the issue as anyone can see how grumpy they are.
But this is heavy weaponry. More commonly, there is a Cold War going on at more subtle levels. It happens in the back ground of our life and barely disrupts the calm of our day to day existence. But it's there. Oh it's there alright, chipping away at our psyche. And it manifests most obviously in the laundry. Let me tell you about the Battle of Wills that occurs with washing.
I grew up in a equal opportunist house. If clothing needed to be washed it went in the washing machine - there was no distinction between colours and whites. The only things that warranted a hand-wash were woolens and this was probably because we (Mum) knew the value of hand-knitted garments. But since buying my own clothes and having the typical ungrateful child-come-adult revelation that actually, there's more to this washing thing than just sticking all the non-woolies in the machine, I've changed my methods. In fact, there are somethings that get totally destroyed if you just chuck them willy-nilly into the machine. And sometimes those things cost a fair chunk of money to buy. So these days, I separate my colours and whites (it seems I believe in segregation. Not as open-minded as I thought I was...), and I also have a laundry bag for bras and tights etc. It's not that washing is complex. Far from it. If in doubt, read the label. And this phrase is one I have repeated to Phil many, many times over the length of our relationship. I'm sure he wishes it was something more saucy but "if in doubt, read the label" would be right up there with, "I don't know honey, what does the recipe say?".
And here is the heart of the conflict. The nutshell of our Cold War. Phil hopes that if he continues to be inept at things, I won't make him do them. I have lost many good items of clothing in the fight to get him to keep doing the washing. And while I mourn these items and value their sacrifice in struggle, I shall not relent. No matter how much he pretends he still does not know how to do the washing, I will still persist.
The washing is but one area of our lives where this battle occurs. We used to have a similar stand-off with cooking but once Phil realised he actually enjoyed being responsible for a tasty meal, he came to the bargaining table. And I freely admit that I am continually shit about other jobs around the house and Phil just shoulders the responsibility and trucks on. Maybe he does bring out The Sulk in retribution from time to time.
So if there is Cold War, how are Phil and I avoiding nuclear crisis? How do we cope with the frosty diplomatic negotiations that ensue? It's not that tricky actually. I mean, who actually gives a flying fuck about colours and whites (except perhaps the Klu Klux Klan)? If the worst that happens is that the odd merino sock comes out of the dryer child-sized when it went in adult-sized, or my black top is covered in tea towel fluff, then life is pretty bloody sweet. If the big gun - The Sulk - is being used only on a un-rinsed dishcloth (Phil hates when I do that) then we're obviously doing ok. First World Problems right there.
I think that I am always grateful for what Phil does do (and he does a lot) and he is tolerant of what I don't do (I don't do much) because we just would rather have the Domestic Cold War and have each other, than have perfectly ordered washing and clean dish cloths. A bit sickening, but there you have it. You just need a bit of perspective from time to time to remember that.