We all have our little rituals.
Things we do.
Things we just do.
I'm not talking about religious rituals, although even those have their history rooted in an individual's compulsion. I'm talking about all those little things that we do organically that help us navigate through what might be described as the chaos of the rest of the day.
Some of those rituals are addictions.
Can't be civil to another human being until I've had at least a cup and a half of coffee.
Some of those rituals are compulsions.
As the patriarch of a family with varying degrees of OCD, I am well versed in the nature of compulsion.
When I mention OCD, I am referring to the ACTUAL Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The disorder were your body chemistry tricks your brain into holding off the release of dopamine and floods your system with adrenaline until you perform some task.
Example: The twenty year old suffers from severe OCD. He washes his hands until the skin of his knuckles are cracked and bleeding and he takes two to three showers a day. However, he comfortably lives in an absolute pigsty; a pigsty I will mention that took me four hours to clean, vacuum and de-grease after I dropped his crazy ass back to school. He's not fastidious, organized, or a neat freak. He has OCD.
Your friend, however, who likes to correct everything, pick up your house, wipe the dust from your dashboard, and always prefaces her behavior by saying "I know its just my OCD, but . . . . ", does not have Obsessive Compulsive Behavior, and is in fact, just a dick-head.
So some rituals are addictions, some are compulsions, some are bad manners, and some are just things we do.
My wife and I don't fight.
Instead of fighting we play a shouting game called "Who has the right to be the bigger asshole?" and it goes like this:
We will sit down to a meal.
Any meal, doesn't matter.
My wife will look at her food, then she will look up at me, then look down at her food and say this:
"Is this cooked all the way?"
In the ten years I have been putting food in her pretty little face, I have under cooked exactly two meals. One was grilled salmon and the other was grilled tuna (and the tuna was under cooked on purpose because that's how it is supposed to be cooked) Not only has no one ever gotten sick, but I also purposely over cook her food. I have ruined more steaks and pork chops than I care to admit in order to make sure that everything was visibly over cooked.
I know for an absolute fact that she doesn't doubt me. I know for an absolute fact that she is extremely grateful not only for the food but for a husband who goes out of his way to meticulously craft an excellent meal. And I know enough about compulsion and addiction to know that she can't help herself.
Yet rather than hitting her in the head with my coffee mug, or simply saying "Yes dear" which is the most manly thing any of us will ever do, I will tilt my head slightly to the right, purse my lips and say "Nope."
"I'm serious Josh, is this cooked all the way?"
"Well . . . we won't find out until one of us dies."
or I'll say:
"Don't eat it."
or I'll say:
And the game will either escalate or deescalate from there. Either she will have won the game because it's a simple question and I'm being ridiculous for getting my vagina all bent out of shape, or I will have won the game because I can get really loud when my vagina gets all bent out of shape.
Again, its not who is right and who is wrong, its who has the right to be the bigger jerk. Her compulsion versus my vagina.
And this is the definition of a great marriage, for this is a ritual we must follow. It's a game we will always play.
For every meal.