"One thing common among loved ones, especially lifelong partners, is the capacity to irritate by small action. As a Probation and Court Welfare Officer for twenty-five years between 1971-1996, I frequently needed to engage in mediation work between married couples who were on the brink of seeking a divorce. At the time, the law required that anyone seeking a divorce would first have to spend x hours in mediation, to see if their marriage could be saved before the process of divorce became final.
As a general rule, by the time mediation was applied within the court process, the marriage of the couple was effectively over, and both simply wanted to move on with their lives. Yet, they were being prevented from doing so until they had jumped this last legal fence that the divorce court required.
Consequently, when the mediation process commenced, everyone concerned knew that the court was attempting to breathe life back into a dead parrot, yet, going through this process of possible reconciliation at the time was compulsory if a couple wanted a 'divorce absolute' granting.
I can still remember these mediation sessions that I adjudicated over and before the first session commenced between the parties, we all knew that the presence of man and wife was no more than a perfunctory and meaningless gesture. They were there to jump the required fences and collect their divorce certificate at the end of the race. Naturally, knowing that the solicitors on both sides would make use of any dirt that one party dished out against the other, the couple in the enforced mediating session 'let rip'. They would introduce into the session everything bad that the other person had done wrong over their years of marriage, plus numerous things they'd never done!
It is a self-evident truth that whenever one marriage partner is filling a marital dustbin of bile against their spouse, the other marriage partner does not simply sit idly by without throwing lots of muck into the marriage cesspit also! It was usually at this stage of the mediation session that every accusation in the book would be made against the other marriage partner, such as, 'For ten years while I was playing the faithful wife and dutiful mother, he was having it off every Wednesday with my best friend behind my back!' or 'She pretends to have tried, but she has always loved the bottle more than me or the children!'
Wild accusations would be flung across the floor of my office like confetti at a much welcome funeral; nothing seemed to be beyond marital accusation as each tried to make the other wholly responsible for a marriage breakup that could never be put back together again. Accusations like wife beating, serial affairs, alcoholism, drug taking, DHSS forgery and even incest would be made; everything wicked about the other person would be dredged up and made up, in the hope that the mediation officer reporting back to court would be obliged to conclude that 'the couple's marriage had irretrievably broken down and that all mediation attempts had failed'. The married couple wanting a divorce had got what they wanted and the poor taxpayer had been left with a heftier bill than reason could ever justify!
As I was writing this post today, it got me thinking about those small things within a marriage that one person does or in some instances, doesn't do; little things that don't have the capacity to send one running to the divorce lawyers, but instead constantly irks and irritates like a 'seven year itch'. You all know what I mean: things like always leaving the lavatory seat down, male dribbling in the bathroom, dirty knickers not put in the wash basket, all the wardrobe space taken up by numerous female coats, shoes and dresses that this country will never provide the season to wear, leaving the sauce bottle cap off the ketchup so the bottleneck is always gungy, or making rude noises in polite company and scratching one's bum at social gatherings in your mother-in-law's house etc.etc.
I then started to think about my own marriage to Sheila. After much thought, the three things I managed to come up with were as follows: First is having her side of the kitchen table piled so high with papers, books and documentation that I hardly see her throughout the day, although I'm less than a foot away, working at the other side of this mountainous obstruction. My second irritation would be Sheila leaving the cellar light on all day. Her excuse for wasting this energy resource is, 'As I'm always up and down the cellar throughout her day, it would be foolish of me to turn off the light and turn it back on again a few minutes later!' However, my biggest bug is one that has no rhyme or reason whatsoever. It is leaving a particular kitchen cupboard door open all day long and never closing it. Indeed, I can honestly say that not once in the five years we've been married have I seen this cupboard door closed when not in use, and all because of my fair maiden's rationale that, 'she will want to open it again....sometime next week!'
It may seem such a small thing to cause so much irritation to a thick-skinned man like myself, but each time Sheila engages in one of these little things that irk, it's like her pinching my skin and saying, 'Go on then! If you want the mediation officer to adjudicate in our marriage, go get him!'
What little things irritate you about your partner's behaviour. Go on; tell all!" William Forde: November 17th, 2017