Pretending to be asleep, I watched my husband as he prepared for the day ahead of him. Still seething from last night’s argument, I indulged my anger a little as I mentally rehearsed all his weak points. I had already recited a few when he walked back towards the bed, bent over and gently kissed me on my forehead. “Good morning sweetheart.” His voice was trembling a little, and I could tell that he was also thinking of last night. He never calls me sweetheart! And he also knew that I was awake. Affectionate. I had to admit to myself that the man was affectionate. And considerate too, watching the way he tiptoed around, not wanting to disturb me. And then I was forced to face what really upset me about last night’s argument. If I was honest, it was not him at all. OK, perhaps it was a little bit him. Actually, a lot him! However, more than that, what truly bothered me on remembering those two hours was remembering how I had behaved.
It was not even as if the argument had been that serious. Even in those earlier days of our marriage, while we were ecstatically, deliriously in love, among minor spats and squabbles we had still had two blazing, earth-shattering, screaming rows, which between ourselves we still jokingly referred to as “the ragers”. And then after each of these we had spent days pouring out our hearts to one another, rescuing the tenderness between us, going about holding hands and together catching the sunset together – in fact, pretty much any glimpse of the sun.
Last night’s argument had not been that heated. I smiled as I remembered how I had thought before marriage that he was so gentle and diplomatic that he could never argue with anyone. I had certainly been wrong about that! And yet, I groaned within myself as I recognised that yesterday’s fight had somehow marked a transition: between those golden, lovey-dovey, “can’t keep our hands off one another” years to the mundane “real world” of marriage; that real world of disagreements and constant re-negotiations about in-laws and money and who always has to be doing the brunt of the housework, that real world where you might like your husband very much – but you certainly can keep your hands off him; that real world that as a couple we had both hoped and confidently expected that we would be spared from, due to the depth and sincerity of our love and consideration for one another.
And last night I had done something I never thought I would do. I write a blog about relationships. In this blog I try to be as honest as I can be about myself, and as honest as I can be about how I or other people might behave within relationships. I have always known of course that I would be nowhere near perfect – as he would not be – as he certainly is not (my mind threatened to wander again along that angry road – but I reined it in.) I have always tried to honestly anticipate just what I might be capable of doing, or of being. However, I never, never imagined in a million years that I could ever snipe at my husband. Yes, yesterday, instead of arguing cleanly and neatly, as I have always prided myself on doing, and instead of postponing the argument until I was feeling calmer as I actually could have done, in that I had been in full control of my emotions, instead of these two sensible options I had actually walked knowingly and deliberately into the argument and I had actually sniped at him, flinging a few of his weaknesses straight at him. And then on top of that I had been petty, bringing in minor gripes that were completely irrelevant to the issue at hand. I even believe that a door may have been slammed. Wow, seriously? That is not me at all. It never has been. Just where did that come from? Actually he had been petty right back. However, there was no question that I had been the one to start it, and I had just stubbornly kept adding fuel to the fire. He had been a little more hesitant in his own pettiness and I had ruthlessly seized on that, and poured out an utter torrent of over-articulated harshness. I had been in one of those crazy irrational moods where I could have picked a fight with the garden wall, and just kept on arguing, even despite knowing just how silly and futile the argument was.
And so here we were the morning after the night before, and here I was watching him while pretending to be asleep, knowing that my own hands had destroyed something so precious between us, feeling so annoyed with myself even while I was still angry at him.
“Hey, are you awake yet?” He asked hopefully.
“You know that I’m awake.”
“I just want to tell you that I love you!”
“Yeah, me too. So much.”
Wow, those words were so cool and mechanical out of my mouth, even almost sarcastic. They must have felt like a slap. I watched as he smiled bravely as he tried to fend off the hurt. And then I suddenly remembered a few promises that I had made to myself.
I looked at the man who had pledged his life to my own, and I simultaneously realised and decided and remembered that I was sincerely going to give this everything that I had.
“Honey, wait.”, I said. He turned to me with a look of such eager optimism, that my heart almost broke with longing for him, and for what we had had.
I jumped up, out of bed, and ran to where he stood.
“Honey, I’m sorry, I love you so much too. I am so sorry that I acted like such an idiot last night. I said so many stupid things. Will you please forgive me?” I looked up into his face where a tentative smile was slowly spreading, and I could not help smiling back into his eyes. Even before I could ask him “Will you please hug me?” he was spontaneously drawing me into his arms. I continued, sensing that he felt, rather than heard my words. “You are without any doubt the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me – after Jesus.” I felt the tears roll down my face as I continued speaking into his shoulder as he gently held me close to him. “I am so ashamed about saying all those silly things.” I lifted my head up as I wanted to make sure that he heard my next words. “I want to live the rest of my life to serve you.” This felt so sweetly awkward that I quickly added “Within reason.” At this we both laughed. “I don’t want to let the sweetness between us die. I want to preserve the magic, and the wonder, and the mystery. I want to spend the rest of my life in your arms. I am going to give this my absolute everything, today and everyday. Oh, hug me baby!” By this point we were gently nuzzling one another and then the caressing action moved from our noses to a hungrier part of our faces.
Eventually I pulled myself away. “OK”, I reluctantly asked, “how can I make it up to you?” This was our little predefined code for when of us conceded that we were in the wrong. At this his smile broadened spectacularly, at which I felt so relieved.
“I’m so glad that you asked that.” (This phrase too was an established part of our “making up” routine.) “I was thinking that you could be on heavy chores for a week.” Well it was not like there were many options. It was solo dinner duty, heavy chores, or daily washing the car. While we had agreed on these as fair ways to make up to one another, what invariably happened too is that we would enthusiastically throw ourselves into our supposedly week-long “punishments” for only two days at most, then we would both forget, and fall back into life as normal – possibly because we loved cooking together and just generally hanging out together and somehow we would always find an excuse to come to disturb one another while working out our punishments. “Do you mean heavy chores for two days?!” At this we both really laughed, and then we hugged again, and this time the hug seemed to last for the rest of the day, and the week, and the month.
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