Why Do Salt Flecks on the Kitchen Counter Drive Me Crazy?

The tale of a ridiculous relationship peeve — and getting over it

Photo by author.

I wiped up salt flecks from the kitchen counter, my husband’s constant souvenir of meal preparations. For years, the sight of random salt bits scattered across the butcher block surface made me as angry as a bear. ROAR! I’d stand on my hind legs, mouth open, bellowing my disapproval.

Why the hell couldn’t he wipe his shit down afterwards!

Over time, this question started to creep in: Why did I care?

Why did I, upon returning home from work to a husband who greeted me with a huge smile and a prompt kiss, choose to give the goddamn kitchen counter more of my focus than my gorgeous love-partner?

Days, weeks, months, and years passed. Still, salt flecks on the kitchen counter. Still, me getting irked to an unnecessary degree.

I knew my kitchen counter reaction was optional, but I remained full-on in it.

I bitched to my friend Laurie on a walk through Pioneer Park. Laurie is the kind of friend with whom you can share all the external/internal goings-on in life, put them under a light, and see them from all angles until you are cracking up at the ridiculousness of the entire situation.

When I told her that I returned from work more affected by the surface of my kitchen counter than my husband’s affection, she nodded resolutely. We did some swapping of our marital peeves — set to the theme of “I do all the work around here!” — and then started to laugh, because together we were able to see our dramatizations over something that wasn’t really true (I certainly didn’t do all the work around my house — probably not even half of it!).

This I’m-doing-it-all feeling crept in when I was at my usual evening pre-dinner spot: beloved kitchen peninsula, chopping vegetables and doing meal prep (after wiping down counter from salt droppings of course!).

From where I stood I looked directly at my husband in his recliner chair watching the news. Some nights I’d be purring away, happy to be in my regular spot, lost in slicing an onion as thinly as possible; other times, I glared at my husband stretched out like a cat on his back. WTF? Why am I doing all the work around here? 😩🥺🤣

The victim-y binge, like the bag of potato chips is hard to stop after you start.

After my tell-all with Laurie about the a) salt flecks on the kitchen counter and b) the dinnertime “I do all the work around here” pity party, the next time my husband was in his news-watching chair, while I was at the counter with vegetables surrounding a cutting board, it felt different.

I saw the scene from the perspective of Laurie and me watching it together. We’d laugh. I reached for my phone, to take a photo of my husband in his evening chair, and text it to my friend with the words “See?” written beneath.

But there was no way I could take a photo without getting my husband’s attention. How would I explain myself? “Oh, Laurie and I were talking about . . . something . . . and now I want to take this photo so we can laugh together — at you.”

Men, private ones like my husband, can’t understand the sacred ritual of women sharing stories about their married life (nor can they appreciate how much it helps the relationship, too).

After that, I relaxed into the whole salted kitchen counter ordeal. I saw it was my thing; I saw my husband was going to keep salting it, so why resist? Eventually, my husband and I started joking about it.

“Don’t you dare clean up after you make your sandwich,” I’d say to my husband during lunch. “I’m going to clean up my beautiful peninsula as only I can!”

Another time, when my husband caught me glaring at the surface: “Oh my god are those SALT FLAKES?”

The more I made fun of my need to have a salt-free kitchen counter, the more I let it be my thing. What makes moments hard in marriages is when you don’t accept the fact that your partner doesn’t care about the same things that you do (food bits on kitchen counter). And it’s usually a tiny stupid thing like that. Socks on the floor, toilet seat up, crackers and chips left open and stale, a sink piled with dishes, ignored laundry, [put yours here]. Who hasn’t gone ballistic over one of these?

After a while, I found myself wiping down the kitchen counter and with new inner dialogue: “It’s no big deal, salt, mess, counter, me loving no food on the counter. I got this.” (Note: I am not a neat freak; there are areas of the house I leave clothing and items all over the place. Does my husband complain? N-E-V-E-R.)

Then one day recently, I came home from a swim. The sun was out, my endorphins were blasting, cherry blossoms were rocking the neighborhood, everything smelled sweet. I walked into the kitchen. And you already know it. Kitchen counter, flecks, salt, husband nowhere in sight.

I saw it, I grabbed a cloth, I wiped it up. I noticed something new — no angry bear. No peeve. Just dealing with it. Humming a tune, even.

In other words, I stared this ridiculous peeve down until I laughed, until one day it was gone.

Writer, coach, swimmer, runner, late-marrier. I coach writers, professionals & re-inventors. Everyday Creative Coaching, www.everydaycreative.net

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