My husband and I have been having “the argument” for about 25 years. That’s nearly half of my life! I threatened to break up with him at the Scarlet Pumpernickel coffeehouse when we were dating over it. He promised he would work on it, and then he kissed my anger away. Ah, young love!
Two decades and two children later, our marriage vows “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,” have all been played out too many times to count. We’ve been tested and we’re not done with God’s tests if we’re still breathing, yet our love remains. And so does that argument!
No matter how much I have cried, prayed, hollered, bribed, and begged, “the argument” is just as embedded in our marriage as it was in our four years of dating. It comes and goes – sometimes it doesn’t happen for a couple of weeks, and I mistakenly (and arrogantly) think my husband finally learned his lesson. But, then “the argument” barges into our lives again.
When I began to question whether we may need to end our marriage to kill “the argument,” I took the problem to our parish priest. I gained a much needed fresh perspective. Our pastor provided me with one of those rare “flip on the light-switch moments” when I faced the truth: I was trying to change my husband, and it’s not going to happen! It sounded so simple that I honestly wanted to smack myself across my forehead – just like the V-8 commercial!
I was breaking one of the first rules about basic human nature that we parents are advised to pass on to our children as they date and then consider the marriage vocation: You cannot change your partner after you’re married. I for one knew what I was getting into at the Scarlet Pumpernickel. As mothers, we can remind our children of that truth early on, before they get those deep starry, stars in their eyes and are only worrying about the color of their bridesmaids’ dresses or where they’re going to honeymoon!
All of these married years later, I realized “acceptance” of my husband’s weaknesses (I have mine too!) was missing at times. Our pastor sees it played out hundreds of times; “the argument” lay within my husband’s and my God-given, unique personalities and differences, physical, mental, and emotional. Obviously, he’s a man and I’m a woman. Contrary to today’s blurring of female and male roles, He in his great wisdom created a man and woman to complement one another.
Back in the trenches of married life, it is hard work, although I can breathe easier knowing I’m not crazy; our situation is not uncommon. Even without the details, I am betting many married couples can find themselves somewhere in “the argument.”
It involves how I perceive what he says or how he responds to me; how I become angry or sad over his statements, sometimes for days on end; and how he can’t even remember what he says to hurt me, even it was just a few minutes ago! Or he claims the words that cause me to slam our bedroom door shut didn’t come out how he meant to say them. I had a hard time believing him, that’s for sure!
God made me a sensitive, emotional woman, and my husband, a more pragmatic, dare I say, less sensitive male for a reason. Those who know us best have offered that we are both more sensitive than average, but I’m still the woman and he’s still the man. My highs and lows ebb and flow much more dramatically than his male mood swings. I’m learning to love and accept him more for who he is, not for whom I want him to be for my selfish reasons.
Our pastor reminded me that I’m blessed to have my husband, a man who truly loves me. Ladies, this doesn’t make us “weak” to have a strong man in our lives, one who will protect and defend. It’s part of God’s plan for marriage.
And I realized it’s a blessing that our love hasn’t changed, as indicated in having that same argument. It hasn’t broken up our marriage; it has strengthened it. The next time “the argument” threatens my inner peace, I will pray to bypass feeling upset inside and angry toward my husband. Maybe I’ll even say out loud, “That’s my husband. And I love him.” Acceptance has become my answer to “the argument” and the truth I will hang on to, “until death do us part.”
Questions: How have you experienced “acceptance” in your marriage, and how has this strengthened your marriage?
Copyright 2014 Kim Seidel