Later this month marks 12 years since Brent and I walked down the aisle. Normally this time each year, I write a mushy-gushy post on how amazing he is, and I wish him a happy anniversary with butterflies and unicorns and lots of happy confetti. Usually.
This year, I’m giving up the unicorns. This year, as we commemorate the years we’ve survived married life together, I’m coming at it from a different approach. This year, I’m going to tell you why I married a jerk.
While on our honeymoon, I was recovering from salmonella and strep throat. (Hot mama, right here…) Before we embarked on a long hike around Mount Rushmore, he all but begged me to swallow a couple Immodium before our trek. What he didn’t know was I felt totally fine for the first time in days, and in spite of my confidence, he wasn’t convinced. I left it in the car. Halfway through our trek, it hit. I was in a lot of pain, rocking on a bench along the trail, holding my gut, moaning audibly, and praying silently.
My husband of 48 hours got right up in my face and said, “If you [poop] your pants, I am NOT taking you back to the hotel to change.” His demeanor in my moment of vulnerability had me in tears. He was upset. Not the kind of upset like, “Oh no, I really messed up as her husband.” Brent was the kind of upset where he knew, if I had just listened to him, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. Forget the fact I had salmonella and strep throat. He had tried to help me out, but neither of us had any way of knowing. It was somehow my fault I couldn’t control when salmonella reared its ugly head. It was a long, painful walk the last half of that trail, but we made it without incident (or accident).
While we’re sharing the nitty gritty, let me tell you about one of the first big fights I remember as a newly married couple. When I say big, I mean B I G. There were swearwords yelled. There were doors slammed. There was much shouting and carrying on. B I G.
I was sitting at the computer copying content from one program, pasting to another. Brent came into the room, saw what I was doing, and told me he knew a way to do it better. I didn’t care. I was in the middle of it, what I was doing was working, and I did. not. care. He kept insisting I let him show me. I insisted he find something else to do. He came over……you’re not going to believe this. He marched to where I was sitting and grabbed the mouse RIGHT OUT OF MY HAND and began to do it his way. I shot him a look reserved for murderous criminals. I said some bad words. So did he. I yelled. So did he. I slammed the door on my way out. He was upset. Not the “Oh crap I really messed up as her husband” kind of upset. He was upset in the – you guessed it – way he thought I was over-reacting, I was unwilling to learn, and how dare I refuse his efforts to “help“!
These two events happened within the first couple of months of our marriage. I couldn’t believe I had married such a jerk. I mean, he, as my husband, was supposed to be loving, giving, considerate, kind, romantic, princely….and all these realistic expectations I had of my husband weren’t coming to fruition.
Jer…..wait a minute.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
It may be Newton’s third law of motion, but it’s also marriage’s third law of unfair fights. The first and second laws would have something to do with disgruntled male and female members of the marital union.
It’s been 12 years, people. If Brent came and ripped a mouse out of my hands today, I’d simply de-pants him and call it even. I’d also be completely surprised, because we have both grown – a LOT – in our relationship with one another. If he’s a jerk, I don’t even want to know the title I wear.
None of us know what we’re doing when we get married. It takes a long time to figure it out. Brent and I have by no means arrived. We’re still growing, still learning, still forgiving one another when we act like jerks.
The fact of the matter is: Brent is a gem. Yes he does silly things that make no sense to me. Yes he makes me angry. Yes we still have bouts of intense fellowship, though not anything like in the early days. And for every action he makes that’s a detriment to relational bliss, I provide the equal and opposite reaction that takes us further down that wayward trail. He’s not the only one who falls short in this relationship, and he certainly isn’t the only one who makes mistakes. I’m at fault a good 60% of the time (on a good day).
He doesn’t make me mad on purpose. He doesn’t seek ways to anger or hurt me. He doesn’t intentionally ruffle my feathers. He honestly believes in his heart he loads the dishwasher the correct way. But instead of tearing him down, or insulting his intentions, or questioning his motives, I will commend the things he does well. I will shout his praises at every opportunity. I will brag about him to whomever will listen. I will shine a light on his great qualities and give him the credit due him. I will honor him as the worthy and beautiful child of God he is. I will pray for him, no matter what I’m feeling, and I will beg God to heap blessing upon this man I’ve vowed to spend the rest of my life with.
Because if I don’t? If I don’t respect him, encourage him, or build him up, I’m not giving anything in this marriage and I’m only taking. And if I’m only taking, that makes me a jerk. And if I’m a jerk….well….Brent might have a lot of blogging to do.
It turns out I didn’t marry a jerk. I married a kid who had a lot of growing up to do. He married a gal who still doesn’t listen to him some of the time. Over the many years we’ve been together and the many struggles we’ve overcome, he’s grown into the husband I always knew I wanted. No, I didn’t marry a jerk. I married a prince-in-progress.
In the meantime, insert butterflies and happy confetti here. Happy anniversary, babe. I’m sorry I called you a jerk once… xo