Reform Rochester Now!

Making city and citizens self-sustaining

Some thoughts on Marriage

A man friend and I had the opportunity to work together on a plumbing job for the past 2 weeks. For many things I pay him to do for me, I’m happy to let him do it by himself. Plumbing is different, as I’ve discovered. It really takes two people.

Initially I was annoyed and a little resentful when he insisted I spend time in the basement with him. It was my basement. My job. My money paying for the fixtures and tools. I’d been trying to get him to do it for months, and he realized I meant business when I paid a contractor $50 to come over and give me an appraisal. Then my friend had something to prove: that he could do it better than the other guy and save me money in the process.

The first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t get basic questions answered, by either my friend or the contractor I hired. My main questions were “where does city water enter my building” and “how big is the pipe?” I got the damn’dest non-answers to these basic questions. I guess you have to stand up to pee to find out certain things.

After the contractor left, my friend was willing to show me the difference between a half-inch pipe and a three-quarter inch pipe, and that was it. He wouldn’t let me make a map of the pipes in the ceiling, so instead I bought tags and labeled the five units different colors so we could keep them straight. He got irritated when I followed him around and tried to label the segments he needed to cut. He wouldn’t show me where the pipes needed to connect but quickly rushed from one location in the basement to another. He wouldn’t answer me when I asked him where he thought the fixtures would go that he needed.

“Never mind.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“You don’t need to know.”

“That’s none of your business.” The dismissive way men lean forward and raise their voices at you when they want you to shut up. You do shut up, because you want the guy to finish the job, so you tolerate your own ignorance in stony silence.

I would stand in the aisle with him at The Home Depot trying to help him find the brass pieces he needed. Because he wouldn’t answer my questions or let me help him figure things out, I tied up a good deal of my credit buying parts and then returning them. He couldn’t properly verbalize names of fixtures we were looking for. Days later, I began to hear myself saying them instinctively when we were standing at the service desk of the plumbing supply store up to 90 seconds before he came up with them himself. He wouldn’t let me purchase the meters we needed right away and then insisted I return the fittings for them, cursing and swearing at me when I told him we needed to take them back and get what we really needed the following day. He blamed me for going on one school field trip with my daughter after I had cancelled going with her on the others, instead of sticking around to babysit him. He refused to give tenants proper notice before shutting off their water so many times I got tired of fighting with him to do it and two of them called me one night, angry because the water went out when they were trying to make dinner.

I was in the middle of fighting with him to mount the shelf on the stone wall instead of mounting it on some flimsy wooden boards, and fighting with him about returning the meters that he couldn’t get to connect because he refused to purchase the proper fittings.

On the last day of a two-week job to individually meter five units’ water usage, we worked together for around a half an hour to two hours. That’s when it all came together for me. He didn’t need to tell me what to bring him because I was already standing there with it. I wondered why the whole job couldn’t have been like that, and then it dawned on me. Marriage. That’s when it works, when two people know each other’s needs and they work together without having to explain. Thirteen days of confusion and utter abusive misery and two hours of intimacy. That must be what marriage is about. Okay, God, I get the joke.

Then I notified the tenants I would be going into their apartments at 8 pm to run water and check the valves and that was when hell broke loose again. He was angry because I got it and he didn’t want me to. He had to have it all his way. I went up to one of the units and the water was turned off, but I tried to get him to leave it on and turn it off when I asked and he flatly refused to do anything I asked him to. So I told him to take a walk and had my nine-year-old daughter stand at the valves. She refused to leave her post, even when faced with a grown man screaming at her and menacing her, threatening to throw screws at her because he would not let me do anything my way. I finally had to call the police, but before they arrived, I was able to check that all the units were working, no thanks to my friend, even though he had completed the job.

So this is marriage, the way man made it. The man screaming and swearing at the woman most of the time, keeping her in the dark about the important stuff so he can feel special. Commiserating with his friends about how schizophrenic women seem to be naturally, while the woman blunders along trying to smile at everyone until she can find the fixture that works, waiting to scrape together her two hours of marital bliss from years of unending heartache. This is love and life on Earth, I guess. Thanks, God. This is why men get addicted to pornography, because to nearly all of them, sexual intercourse is just masturbating with another human being present. I get it now. There’s no working with someone, because when you cooperate you have to share credit, too, and that’s unacceptable to the men I’ve met. We haven’t developed language to explain this to young people who think they’re in love, so divorce remains inevitable.

To women who want to help or want to make something of themselves or want to raise children or just want to be happy, marriage becomes a prison sentence, because inevitably the man doesn’t want the woman to shine. Maybe this isn’t always true, but here I am in my 40’s, confused and discouraged at all the things I could have become if I’d just had a little help.

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