And now, for the toothpaste story….
What’s the secret to a happy marriage? It’s one of the age-old questions, that could anyone successful supply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer to, it would instantly turn them into a multimillionaire. I am here, today, to be that person. (Disclosure: this post is entirely tongue in cheek. Do not, I repeat, do not, take this relationship advice as a one-off solution.)
The other week, whilst getting the kids ready for school, I overheard Karl and Lisa on the Today show, saying that actor Michael Caine, a husband of 42 years, disclosed the secret to a happy marriage as separate bathrooms. There was also some pretty valid stuff about being equal partners and not living parallel lives, but pretty much separate bathrooms was the takeaway point.
Upon hearing this revelation, instead of instantly contacting some kind of contractor to install my own separate washing area, I responded with a highly mature, ‘pfft.’
‘Dude separate bathrooms?’ I wanted to say? ‘I’m sharing one tiny brown space with five other people, four of whom are incapable of putting a toothbrush in the toothbrush holder, and who somehow manage to not only get toothpaste from bath-mat to towel rack, but also all over the bath and their shoes! And we are all surviving. I hardly think two bathrooms is the clue to wedded bliss.’
Not long after this particular Today show episode, the question of marriage success was brought up with Catherine Martin, wife of the acclaimed Baz Luhrmann. Lisa dove straight in, asking if they had separate bathrooms, and she answered no. But they do have separate bedrooms on account of both of them having insane schedules and liking sleep instead.
By this point, I was feeling a little smug. Not only are Boatman and I happily coexisting with one bathroom, but we also only have one bedroom with one bed, and we’re still together. Clearly, the Today show needed to be contacting me to give them the low down on marriage.
Enter the proverbial humble pie.
It happened in the bathroom, where I was recounting to my perfectly contented partner in life, how these celebrities had their own private space, and how it’s great that it works for them, but honestly I’d prefer to share a room, and a bathtub. To which Boatman agreed and then reached behind me to get the toothpaste.
A fact which will mean very little, until I tell you that the toothpaste does not reside behind me, but at the position in which I was standing that day, it lives beside me. And the toothpaste was in its little home (because unlike the kids I am capable of putting it back), and he was in fact reaching for a separate tube of toothpaste.
And this is when the truth hit me:
My husband has his own toothpaste.
Shocking isn’t it?
Apparently it has to do with how I squeeze the tube. Proper toothpaste protocol dictates that toothpaste should be squeezed from the bottom of the tube. I, however, defy legalistic toothpaste extraction methods, and tend to squeeze from the middle/top of the tube. A fact that had frustrated my normally quite compliant, tolerable husband so much, that he has in fact given up on any hope of me ever learning better, and taken to having his own tube.
It’s quite the devastating turn of events.
I understand that some things, should be kept separate; I, for one, keep a separate jar of Promite for myself because I don’t like butter, and I despise the butter streaks left in the Promite after morning toast is made. To me, this is an acceptable separation.
To Boatman, the toothpaste is the same.
I’ll admit I was quite devastated. And not because I was suddenly joining a long list (or a rather short list come to think of it), of successful celebrities who had embraced separatism for the sake of marital bliss. More that apparently my toothpaste use was so abhorrent in his eyes, that he had completely distanced himself from any kind of association with it. Apart from the apparently frequent ‘corrections’ he applies to my tube, in order to fix it for me.
Corrections for which I try to be grateful if only because I know he thinks he’s doing a nice thing.
Having come to the realisation that we have been living separate kinds of Colgate lives for goodness knows how long, I have come to believe that Michael Caine’s motivation in separate bathrooms is not so much that he wants his own tub to soak in uninterrupted; but rather that he doesn’t want to crush his wife’s world by telling her that her toothpaste application is flawed. He’s probably got problems with the way the toilet roll hangs as well, but that’s purely speculation.
And so, dear readers, with this completely imaginary set of assumptions in mind, I’m going to let you in on the secret of marriage; it’s not separate bedrooms, and it’s not separate bathrooms.
It’s all about the toothpaste.
Do you keep anything separate from you significant other?
How do you squeeze the toothpaste?