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Published April 11, 2010, 12:00 AM

Swift: Pillow talk over furnishings doesn’t cushion the blow

I recently read an article in which some relationship expert claimed that married couples are most likely to fight about five issues: money, sex, work, children and housework. Weird. Nowhere on the list do they mention pillows.

I recently read an article in which some relationship expert claimed that married couples are most likely to fight about five issues: money, sex, work, children and housework.

Weird. Nowhere on the list do they mention pillows.

All week, Irwin and I have locked horns over a new comforter set. The biggest bone of contention: the fact that the set includes an assortment of decorative pillows.

My argument is that our bedroom has been too masculine for too long and that it needs a real spring update. His argument is that if something isn’t riddled with bedbugs or on fire, there is no reason to replace it.

And so we’ve been embroiled in a decorating cage match for the past two weeks. It started when I suggested we paint the room in some shade of purple. Although I repeatedly brought up the Minnesota Vikings to make the shade seem more masculine, he found the color unacceptable. “Purple?” he said, indignant. “Is Prince moving in with us?”

Other bedspreads were dismissed for being too light-colored, too shiny, too silky, too old-ladyish, too floral, too weird and too busy.

Translation: Unless they were emblazoned with machine guns or hunting dogs, they were too girly.

I countered by challenging him to find a comforter. Not surprisingly, he fell in love with a plaid comforter that was almost identical to our current one. “But look, it’s reversible!” he said. Indeed. If you got sick of the plaid on one side, you could flip it over and delight in the slightly smaller plaid on the other.

In the end, I wore him down. We settled on a gender-neutral, khaki-colored spread with embroidered leaves. He rolled his eyes as I unpacked the bedding from its UPS package but managed to bite his tongue.

Excited about my new purchase, I rushed to deck out the bed in its new finery. All was fine until he walked into the room to turn in that night.

“Good grief!” he hollered. “What’s with all the pillows? I can’t even find the bed.”

I tried to explain that these were simply “decorative pillows,” which were meant to make our room look more like a catalog for Pottery Barn and less like a catalog for barn siding.

I went on to explain that the long, cylindrical cushion was not an “upholstered wiener dog” – as he so callously called it – but a bolster cushion. And that those squarish pillows were “Euro pillows.” (Apparently, European husbands are more tolerant of ornamental but awkwardly shaped pillows than are American husbands.)

But it was too late. He was immersed in a pillow census. “Eight, nine, 10 pillows – not including the ones we actually sleep on!” he crowed. “Why do we need 14 pillows? We only have two heads! And what am I supposed to do at night? I’m going to have to go to bed a half-hour earlier so I have time to move all the pillows.”

And there lies the crux of our problem. The average man likes the path of least resistance. My husband doesn’t even like to make the bed, as he figures he’ll only mess it up again that night. He does not want to take part in an elaborate pillow relocation ritual, which involves removing 10 fabric dumplings of various sizes from his nest and then tenderly rearranging them on yonder divan – also his wife’s idea.

Even worse, he does not want to deal with them again in the morning. I imagine Irwin calling in late for work because he’s trapped in a nightmarish game of pillow Jenga, furtively trying to arrange the pillows as if searching for the right crystal combination to escape with Marshall, Will and Holly from “The Land of the Lost.”

I gently suggested he give the pillows a chance. He gently suggested that he could shoot them out of a cannon at the grackles.

Sigh.

Is this what they mean by pillow talk?


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525 or tswift@forumcomm.com

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