It was a typical day in our marriage; I was trying to prepare dinner, yet I was greatly slowed by searching for the whisk. Was it in the drawer to the right of the silverware? That is not where I ever put it, but I’ve learned that my husband sometimes puts it there… but that is not always where he puts it. Sometimes it’s placed in the tall ceramic container behind the cooktop. You see, my husband is no stranger to a whisk or a garlic press or a paring knife. He was a great cook before we ever got married. He had his kitchen set up the way he wanted it. I was also a cook, however, and I knew where I wanted my whisk. The challenge is that where I put it for 40 years and where he put it for 45 years are quite different.
Hunting kitchen utensils is not the only thing that can cause frustration for two people who marry for the first time in their less-than-young ages. The way you approach yard work can cause division, for example. I owned my home and loved working in the yard way before I ever walked down the aisle in a white dress. My husband owned his house also and had his style of raking and trimming.
With 85 years of combined singleness, we do not appreciate the coaching of a spouse in areas where we feel quite competent, thank you very much.
How does one deal with the constant challenge of blending two firm and experienced styles of housekeeping or yard work or driving or simply living? How do two people merge their distinct ways? I have found that a large dose from the bottle of “Humility” has been one of the best medicines as we have enjoyed our first ten years of marriage. It is good for me to remember that my way of doing things is fine and his way of doing things is fine too. They are just different. Rather than get annoyed, I try and remember that hunting a whisk is a small price to pay for the privilege of having a husband who is willing to cook. Raking the leaves his way is good for my character. It allows me to show him support and affirmation.
I did not get married at 40 years old because I needed a husband. I wanted him. He did not need me. He wanted and chose me. We chose to give up independence and the pride of “my way” in order to have the joy of harmony and the beauty of shared lives.
Years ago, when I was in my mid-thirties and single, my friend was dying of cancer. The tenderness with which her husband cared for her in her final days brought tears to my eyes. Arriving at the hospital one morning after I had spent the night there to relieve him, he greeted her gaping mouth with a kiss. “Good morning, my beautiful bride,” he said. Then he kissed her on her nose, her mouth and her chin. It was so beautiful and made me long for a committed good man. “I want a man to love me like that,” I thought.
To my great and wonderful surprise, I got that good and deeply committed man who asked me to marry him on my 40th birthday. He loves me even though I needed a pulley system for my honeymoon lingerie (gravity has taken its’ toll). So, I try and keep a perspective of gratitude for him, even when I have to open lots of drawers to find my whisk.