The problem is, when two people live together, there is no more Business of Your Own. Your Own Business is closed. You've merged and gone public. You have to run everything by your partners. And if there are too many conflicts of interest, the business may go under, freeing the partners to once again open up smaller concerns by themselves.
Like all businesses, couples engage in endless meetings to discuss areas of management concern and division of labor.
"You know, we really should call the post office and tell them to hold our mail while we're away."
"We? You mean me, don't you?"
"No, I mean we. I didn't say 'you'. I said 'we'. You or me."
"Oh really? Are you going to ever call the post office?"
He takes a moment to think. "No."
"Then you mean 'me', don't you?"
Sometimes it works out well, and certain household responsibilities fall natural to those who like doing them.
For example, I like to pack suitcases, He likes to unpack them.
I like to buy groceries, he likes to put them away. He does. He likes the handling and discovering, and the location assignments. The Jenga-ing of the cupboards.
"Cans--over there. Fruit--over there. Bananas--not so fast. You go over here. When you learn to not go bad so quickly, then you can stay with the rest of your friends."
There are things that nobody really likes, but one of you hates more than other person does.
For example, someone has to take out the dogs in the morning. Now, no one wants to get out of bed. But if you understand my husbands affection for Sitting, multiply it a couple of times and you can imagine his enthusiasm for Lying Down. If he's Lying Down, he really likes to stay there.
So this particular task falls, by default, to me.
But there is actually a more complex negotiation at play here. You see, sometimes our wonderful dogs don't actually make it through the night. We occasionally wake up to find things on the floor that hours earlier were inside our dogs. He doesn't enjoy cleaning this up. But I hate it. I mean, I really hate it. I would rather not continue my life than be involved in this.
One morning, one of our dogs was sick and left a particularly repulsive souvenir at the foot of the bed--a combination of grass, raspberry yogurt, and liner notes to a Ray Charles album. I, in a pathetically last-minute plea bargain, blurted out while pointing a shaky finger towards the mess, "I will take them out every morning for the rest of our lives if you clean up whenever they do this."
Being a man who knows a good deal when he sees one, he jumped up, shook hands, and started cleaning up. After all, the dogs only mess up in the house once in a while, but they have to be taken out every morning. He thought it was a sound investment.
It was only later, that while he was straining dog puke from a sponge, that it hit him: if he's in charge of cleaning up future In-House Accidents, there's no real incentive for me to rush the dog out of the house every morning. (I was wondering how long it would take him to figure that one out.) It's not my problem.
So once again ladies and gentlemen, you see how even when negotiating in the best of faith with someone you love, you can get badly, badly burned.