I’d Rather Fight With You (And Pick Up Your Dirty, Smelly Socks) Than Be With Anyone Else
One day early into our marriage, Luke and I were screaming at each other over something ridiculous after a heated “discussion,” and suddenly he looked at me and started laughing. “What’s so funny?” I fumed.
“Oh, nothing. I would just rather fight with you than be joyful with anyone else,” he replied.
I stopped for a moment pondering the utter craziness behind his statement and then realized he was right. We both started laughing at the idea that we both prefer to be “miserable” together as opposed to experiencing a moment of sheer bliss with anyone else.
When people say that love isn’t enough to make a marriage work, I say that they’re both right and wrong. Love is a driving force that can lead you to being loyally devoted to one another (and forgive your partner of wrongdoing much more easily), but it is also a lifelong commitment. It is a day in and day out decision to choose your love and your relationship over the temptations of this world, over the exhaustion and “Hangriness” that can occur after an exhausting day at work, and over anything else in your life. You must decide to love each and every day, and some days are easier than others.
Luke and I have had a tough few weeks here lately; between the two of us, we have been sick for almost a solid month with a sinus infection/flu type illness that one or both of us can’t seem to shake. When you’re not feeling well and naturally more cranky and irritable, your spouse is unfortunately the one who gets the brunt of it because you’re so caught up in “faking it till you make it” with the rest of the world. We’ve had unexpected car repairs and now a broken washing machine (when it rains, it pours) that caused some unanticipated financial strain with the upcoming holiday season. We’ve one or both had back-to-back weekend duties for the past month, leaving very little downtime together. And finally, we are in a major life transition as Luke has his promotion ceremony for Captain in 3 weeks and we navigate through what his new role in the Army might look like for our family.
With all of that, there have been some tense times, some less-than-kind words spoken by one or both of us, and we have both looked like the man in the picture a few times! Real marriage is not a fairytale story, and there are challenges and obstacles that even the best couples find themselves facing. The question is whether you are prepared to weather those storms together and remind yourself that you are in it for the long haul or give up when the going gets a little rocky.
What I know about life thus far is that it is cyclical; ups and downs, highs and lows, good seasons and bad. If you weather the storm, you get to enjoy the Rainbow on the other side. And, there is ALWAYS a rainbow. I am so proud of Luke for his promotion to Captain; a promotion that I (biased wife and all!) believe is extremely deserved. Luke worked more hours & long nights than almost any other Lieutenant I know and sacrificed a lot to get to this point in his career, and I could not be more thrilled for him. This is one of those Rainbows I was talking about.
This promotion is such a blessing for our family, and we are so excited that his parents and a couple of his Aunts and Uncles are coming out for the ceremony. Chick-fil-A is of course catering, and a couple of my “Chick-fil-A Family” are also coming out for the big event. We are very much looking forward to the day when I get to pin those two bars on him.
When I first met Luke, I joked that he was an equals sign because the symbol on his chest (the Cow West Point Cadet Rank) looked just like an equals sign with two lines stacked horizontally. We have now come full circle as those lines will flip vertically on October 14th.
The point is that marriage is a journey for a lifetime, and as a couple, you stick together–through richer through poorer, through sickness and in health, till death may us part. We have had all of those times thus far in our marriage; times of financial prosperity with unexpected bonuses and financial favor and times where the wallet was much thinner, where our spending far outpaced our earnings. We have had times where I literally wanted to throw all of his clothes out the window if he left them beside the hamper just ONE MORE TIME, and times when he wanted to break down the bathroom door because I was taking too long to get ready AGAIN. Are those minor annoyances going to break you or make you stronger? Today, I was walking down the hallway and saw Luke’s pair of PT socks, cast hastily to the side, with his shirt a few feet away in the guest bedroom. Instead of making a scene about it as I might have done a few years ago, I quietly picked them up and put them in the hamper for him. There are quirks he has to deal with about me too, and rather than try to constantly change the other one, we have learned to more or less “live with it.” One thing that we both consistently do is thank the other one for little chores around the house. We rotate who makes the bed because our work hours vary, so we never know who will be sleeping a little longer. Yet, it gets made about 90% of days with no argument at all. We actively thank each other for making the bed because we both enjoy coming home to a clean room. It is a nice easy way to show gratitude and to make the other feel loved and appreciated (fight free!)
A counselor we saw early in our marriage talked to us about finding our “non negotiables,”and he was not talking about big things. All couples have those annoyances they can easily tolerate, and those they just can’t stand. He told us that for him and his wife, it was wearing shoes in the house. He absolutely hated it, so rather than adapt his thinking, he asked for that to be one of their “non negotiables.” And his wife agreed, because it meant more to him to not wear the shoes than for her to wear them. Goodness, we had so many at the beginning! I had a “thing” about my couch; I wanted it to be extremely clean and I really didn’t like for us to eat on it, EVER (just ask my friend Jenae about some olive oil dipping sauce in 2013.) I hated when Luke used metal spatulas in my Teflon skillets because it scratched them. I hated that he folded the towels “backwards” and that he put the pillows differently on the bed if he made it. Meanwhile, he hated that I hung my keys on “his” key ring; he hated when I left the meat wrapped in Publix bags in the fridge so it wouldn’t drip. He hated that I wanted the temperature so high because I get cold easily, and he hated that I would leave countless water bottles by the bed in case I got thirsty at night. These are just a few examples, but we learned to compromise. The Great Lamp War of 2013 concluded with no official victor; I still love lamps and he still hates them. We have lamps all over the house, and if I turn one on, he doesn’t fight and if he happens to turn one off that I was using, I let it go. Compromise is a big part of a happy marriage.
But, it is also knowing that at the end of the day, your spouse has your back; he has seen you at your literal worst (morning breath, wild hair, mismatched pajamas and all!) and he has loved you through it. He/she has cared for you through the best and worst times in your life and knows you better than anyone else on Earth. You have endured all seasons together. And, at the end of the day, it is so very worth it to endure those tougher times, those days when as my old roommate used to put it, your “couple mojo” is just out of whack, and you can’t seem to get on the same page, because you are still together and loving one another through it. And, of course our biggest secret isn’t a secret at all. It’s Jesus Christ, front and center. As we both work toward improving our personal relationships with God through Bible study, constant prayer (even when we don’t feel like it,) and regular church attendance, our marriage also tends to improve. You have to each have that strong foundation of faith that you bring to your marriage; and a cord of three strands is not easily broken! We have actually missed church due to the aforementioned sickness the last couple of weeks, and I know that is not helping our marriage. We are so looking forward to getting back into Sunday School and church this coming Sunday and are actually planning to join Crossroads Baptist, a wonderful God-honoring church that we have already come to love in Elgin, OK. We are beyond excited to have a church home again that we can call our own and look forward to becoming more actively involved and serving here.
Well, that is just a little of where we are right now–just keeping it “real” today, friends. I pray that you all have a very blessed, relaxing weekend, whatever your plans may be. I have a big work event tonight (my first with Chick-fil-A), that I am both excited and nervous about. Luke works in the morning, and then I think we may hop on away to find some “us time” on a quiet local beach area, decompress and enjoy some R&R.
Thank you all as always for following our story and being part of our lives!