Jenna, just married: I’m a savage, sue me

Jenna Stephens-Staff Writer

He told me I squeeze the toothpaste tube like a barbarian.

Um, ouch. One phrase, but a dagger to my femininity.

I so badly wanted to rip the knife from my own ego and jab him back—like, not super hard, but enough to leave a scratch on his pride. But, I had nothing. A perfect man? Nah. But for some frustrating reason, I couldn’t draw up any criticizing comebacks on the spot.

My teeth have been brushed multiple times a day for 20 years. There isn’t a science behind something so basic. At least, there shouldn’t be. But no, this time it seemed to be the perfect opportunity for me to learn a lesson. Conner proceeded to demonstrate how “normal” people squeeze the toothpaste tube flat to maximize the amount they can get out—rather than “gripping it like a toddler fists a crayon.” I agreed with his logic, but I found myself going back to my old habit until I consciously made the decision to change my ways. A sacrifice for my husband. So selfless.


Contributed photo

Apparently, this barbaric habit reveals its ugly face in another aspect of my life. When I visited the painting studio, I was confronted with the horrific sight of my mutilated oil paint tubes piled up in a lifeless, crinkled mass.


Shameful. I’m disappointed.

Moving in with Conner has taught me a lot about myself. Sometimes I need a fresh set of eyes to observe my behavior. And then, he can either tell me, “That is just so cute,” or “What are you doing?! No, no, that needs to change.” Conner’s default mode is typically the second response, but that’s OK. We both tend to tell it like it is.

It does seem important to point out our biggest pet peeves, though, because they might eventually result in a greater conflict.

“In some cases, pet peeves can make one member of the couple feel emotionally allergic to the other, hastening the demise of the entire relationship,” says Dr. Guy Winch, of

It’s kind of a goofy way to put it, but I think Winch has a point. Lord willing, we have 70+ years of marriage ahead of us. Little annoying habits that go unchecked now could result in a culmination of frustrations down the road.

I’m happy to say that I am not alone in my barbarism. I did, in fact, marry a man of my own, uncivilized kind. Conner scoops corn onto his fork with his finger. Not a knife, his FINGER. Like an animal. Our future children might be doomed, but that’s nothing to worry about yet. For the time being, we’ll keep each other humble, point out the serious pet peeves, and continue discovering each other’s weird quirks and habits.

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