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Toilet Paper Wars

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Do you have toilet paper wars in your marriage?

The View’s Sunny Hostein does. OK, maybe it isn’t a war, but The View co-host spoke recently about the toilet paper habits and annoys her spouse.

To a single person, it sounds like toilet paper should be a non-conversation, right?


Toilet paper can be a big topic in a relationship. In Sunny’s case, her spouse tells her she uses too much toilet paper. And, on The View panel, Sunny described how she wraps the paper around her hand before she wipes. She has also admitted to going around to toilets in her house and making sure all the toilet paper rolls go the same direction – something the drives her spouse crazy. He calls her the toilet paper police.

In my house, it wasn’t the “which way” argument. It was the one about the toilet paper fairy. In the early days, my spouse seemed to think that we had a “toilet paper fairy who magically replaced the toilet paper at the end of the roll. He also thought there was an “ice cube fairy” who filled the ice cube tray when it was empty.

Sometimes the dumbest things can cause friction. In the Five-Year Marriage™ I talk about the man who would shave each morning and leave his dead whiskers in the sink. When she asked him to clean up after himself, he said he would, but never did.

None of those things are, of themselves, big issues. But, when you ask and you get agreement, and then the agreement is ignored, that’s a problem. It’s no longer about the toilet paper, or ice cubes, or whiskers…or putting the toilet seat down, turning off lights, closing doors, and a million other seemingly insignificant things.

When you ask and your ask is ignored, you feel you aren’t being given proper consideration and the respect you deserve from your partner.

If that’s happening in your relationship, take it to the family meeting. Figure out a way to work it out before it makes someone feel bad or get angry.

Here’s one example: Joseph usually put the toilet seat down, but forgot often enough to be annoying. It only takes one time of falling into the water in the middle of the night to cause a problem. Joseph and I talked about it. He really wanted to remember to put the seat down, but too often forgot – sort of an out of site, out of mind thing. So he figured out a “hammer” (a self-imposed penalty) for not doing it. So he decided that every time he forgot, he’d turn his forgetfulness into a lunch or dinner date. It only took a few times – and yes, I expected him to pay up! – to remember the importance of putting the seat down.

Communication is key in any relationship. For more ideas and tips, check out my groundbreaking book, The Five-Year Marriage™: Shifting the Marriage Paradigm