My husband, Michael, and I share an iTunes library. Frankly, when we bought our first Mac it never occurred to us to do any differently. We share everything, a bed, checking accounts, a wonderful daughter. It's funny because our personalities, relationship, and our stages of life are reflected in our iTunes library. It is like a mini archeological dig to look through the music in there.
The first thing we did was load all our CDs. Or I should say all of Michael's CDs. He has hundreds. I have three. His were all the classic 80s rock and hair bands plus every Elton John and Beatles album ever made. Mine were weird semi-famous people, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Amy Grant, Cathy Denis. (Yup, those were the three). I never bought music, I relied on my cool older brother and sister to make tapes for me for my walkman and let me listen to their cast off albums (yes, actual vinyl). Think Upstairs at Eric's by the Yaz (my sister) and I Wanna be Sedated by the Ramones (my brother).
At that time our daughter was probably five and didn't have much interest in music beyond Raffi and the Disney soundtracks. So guess what got loaded next? You got it, Disney sound tracks and Raffi. As her musical tastes changed we then ended up with Hannah Montana, The Jonas Brothers, and High School Musical sound tracks. At this time she got her own computer so the iTunes road started to diverge. Just like she is starting to break away from us as a tween, she is developing her own tastes in music. And the iconic words often leave my mouth: “Turn that noise down!” It’s scary how music makes us sound like our parents!
My husband developed an interest in country music. So he downloaded some Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. I thought it was weird that a Jew liked Jesus Take the Wheel. He claims he doesn’t really hear the words, he just listens to the beat and the music. I do hear the words and that explains my country downloads which would be Cleaning This Gun by Rodney Atkins and Online by Brad Paisley. The lyrics are very funny and I listen to them on my iPhone and grin. People think I’m nuts.
Even as our iTunes library continues to be the Grand Canyon of our relationship, the first layers our past, then as our music tastes and lives have changed, more layers have been added. The thing that struck me is how it represents our marriage and how we make it work.
In a marriage, you have to make room for each other’s personalities. One person does not call all the shots. The iTunes library has room for Pat Benatar (Michael) and Death Cab for Cutie (Me). Beyond that, we have influenced each other so that we are both listening to music that we probably wouldn’t have with out our partner saying “Hey, check this out!” David Gray would not have been my first pick as I am sure The Foo Fighters would not have been my husband’s. So our horizons are expanded, our live enriched because we are together.
There are times when he does download a song I can’t stand. That is what play lists are for. I can ignore the stuff I don’t like. Just like I do in real life. We both have strange habits that drive each other nuts. The fact is, those quirks don’t matter. It doesn’t do any good to focus on them. My personal play list has in it what a great father he is, how much he loves me and our daughter, how hard he works to make a stable financial home for us, how supportive he is of my typing away here, when I ask him for help or to do something he does it, and the list goes on and on. I listen to the good stuff all the time.
The fact is that a marriage and a play list has room in it for a lot of things. Bad choices, arguments, quirks in personality. It’s all what you pay attention to. I’ve forgotten about Michael’s extensive collection of Elton John, just like I forgot about what we were arguing about last week. Just like the 80s hair bands are standing patiently next to the last 70s punk rockers, we stand patiently next to each other. Waiting to see who will show up next and what is around the next corner.