7/2/08

For Better or Worse?

My life is far from perfect. The most important relationship in my life, short of that with my Savior, is my marriage. This is the bond between my husband, me and God. We work in unison to keep our family unit functioning productively in this mixed up world. We are one for all and all for one...usually.

I do not believe that there is any human relationship that has reached the level of perfection. Were it not for our arguments and disagreements, we would fail to function in the most efficient and productive manner. I truly believe that it is our arguments that take us to the next level of understanding and purpose as we learn to respect each other.

To understand my marriage, one has to understand who we are. I am a southern born, southern bred, redheaded woman with a heritage that is a mixture of many strong and willful characters. He (party of the second part - husband) is southern born, Alabama boy raised in the streets of Chicago most of his life and the by-product of a broken family. His strength comes as much from his ability to survive any circumstance and make powerful decisions in the heat of battle as it does his southern birth. His pride comes from his Scots Irish ancestry. I was once asked by an Irishman "why did you ever marry a scot? All he has is his pride?" To this day, that causes us both to break down into hysterical laughter - the truth of it is all too evident.

When we met, we immediately fell in love. Yes America - there is such thing as love at first sight! We didn't date very long and were wed within three months of our first date. My Mom was convinced I had lost my mind. I was an old maid by then - 27 years and never married. He was experienced - 32 years and married twice before. But I knew and he knew this was the last one for both him and me. I once told him "you can do it your way or you can do it my way. It's either until death or until death do us part - the choice is yours!" He thought that was a joke. Twenty years later, he seems to shudder when I bring it up.

The dumbest part about marrying so quickly is that the couple doesn't really have the opportunity to get to know one another. The dumbest part about marrying that quickly when you have two personalities such as ours, is that one or the other always has to learn to concede. Our first three years of marriage were a neverending period of trial and concession, sometimes on my part sometimes on his. But the concession was never a scene where we kissed and someone said "yes dear". It was only after something was broken and words were spoken that I always promise myself to never use again. The stories that have arisen from our development are now told to friends and family and always result in someone snorting something through their nose.

There was the time I cooked t-bones for my husband. T-bones are expensive and I splurged. He deserved it at the time...I think. A friend of mine brought this memory forward yesterday evening. I bought t-bones special cut from the meat department. They were special and I cooked them special for my sweet man. As I was getting them ready to serve, he asked where the steak sauce was. "What steak sauce - these are t-bones, they don't need steak sauce. Now sit down and I will get dinner on the table" was my response to his question.

"What do you mean! You bought T-BONES and didn't buy steak sauce. We've only been married FOREVER and you forgot I HAVE TO HAVE STEAK SAUCE. This dinner is ruined" When I type that it sounds just as horrid as it did when he said it - you will now understand my reaction (party of the second part is not here to tell his version so you have to accept this one as fact). My husband is a "reactive" person. He says things loudly and with emphasis when he reacts and then he forgets it. I am not reactive. I am begrudging and it takes me a bit to get the point and then I can't get over it.

What followed is a life's lesson my husband has never forgotten. He couldn't just let it go that I did not have steak sauce, he had to follow me into the kitchen, open the refrigerator and very dramatically point out all the various cooking sauces, mustards, ketchups, and various other condiments and once again point out that I had "stupidly" (I believe those were his words) failed to purchase steak sauce. How can a person spend a fortune on custom cut steaks and a fortune filling the fridge with all those items and not have steak sauce. By now, his emotion had taken charge as it often does in the heat of battle and he was driven to make his point.

I got the point. He won't eat steak without steak sauce. Of course, he had to toss the word "stupid" in one more time because he knew it had wounded me. But, guess what America, I am not stupid. I very intelligently and deliberately put each t-bone - 3/4 inch thick, lightly broiled, juicy, plate size - on one plate. He returned to the table feeling ever the victor and offering to sacrifice himself and use ketchup.

I can still see the look on his face as I walked past that table, to the back door and FLUNG those steaks to the eager Beagle and St. Bernard waiting on the back porch. There was horror, there was this rolling of his eyeballs as if they were rewinding and replaying the scenes attempting to recapture the one point in the overall event that illicited this reaction. I calmly walked back to the table as I AM the calm one and said "OH - I see the dogs like their t-bones without any sauce!" and went into the kitchen to clean things up.

As the evening progressed, he managed to gather himself up. He took a shower and came out dressed up and smelling lovely. THEN, he offered to take me out to eat. Actually he said something like "do you think I should take you somewhere to eat?" in a meek tone and I responded with something like "yeah, that's probably a GOOD idea!"

Now girls. The moral of this story is NOT to toss food out to the dogs when the husband has a fit. There were no winners here short of the restaurant we later ate at. Those steaks would have been divine. There really is no moral of the story except the fact that, despite what seemed like a horrific event, we are still married and we now laugh about that situation. We were both at fault. People say things, people react. But that doesn't mean you have to head to the divorce lawyer everytime you get the sniffles because he may have over reacted. Really - all you have to do is file it away for a later date and use it to remind him just what happens when he thinks he's being smart!

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