As if money and sex and children and household chores and whatever else people most often fight about weren't enough, now they're bickering with each other over the length of showers and who forgot the reusable bags.

"My wife has drawn the line at a composting toilet," my lunch companion informed me. He wasn't exactly glum about it. Just resigned. He had come home from a two-week eco-immersion seminar that transformed his life. He was ready to make all manner of changes, including installing a composting toilet in their home.

Trouble was, his wife didn't go to the seminar with him. And she remained firm in her objections to the john.

I smiled. My husband has drawn a similar line. Fortunately, in neither case was the difference of opinion about bathroom plumbing enough to jeopardize the marriage. But according to a story in the Jan. 18 New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2010/01/18/science/earth/18family.html), disagreements over eco-actions have put stress on many relationships. I found it both fascinating and, to tell the truth, hilarious.

As if money and sex and children and household chores and whatever else people most often fight about weren't enough, now they're bickering with each other over the length of showers and who forgot the reusable bags.

One guy reported that he no longer will accompany his girlfriend to sushi dinners because he can't stand to be a witness to her grilling the waiter about whether the seafood was sustainably harvested. He told the NYT reporter that he became committed to his girlfriend "before her high-priestess phase" and that their disputes are mostly good-natured, but still...

"As the focus on climate increases in the public's mind, it can't help but be a part of people's planning about the future," Thomas Joseph Doherty, an Oregon clinical psychologist who focuses on eco-issues, told Times reporter Leslie Kaufman. "It touches every part of how they live: what they eat, whether they want to fly, what kind of vacation they want."

Worst of all, green issues also are seen as moral ones. Nothing can send a mild argument over the edge faster than a sanctimonious combatant.

So, yeah, this eco stuff is all very important. But so is a sense of humor and compassion for loved ones. Surely we can work it out, even if it means settling for the low-flush toilet instead of the composting one.

Visit Sandy Bauers' blog at http:go.philly.com/greenspace.