What couples should know


I recently read an article informing young couples about what they should know pertaining to marriage. The very first sentence was somewhat intriguing, “Resolve every disagreement before going to bed.” I stared at the phrasing, trying not to roll my eyes. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m simply pointing out that if Gar and I abided by that, we’d never sleep. Someone once asked if my husband had ever went to war and I replied, “Only with me.”

Another statement of guidance was, “Get married when you know you can live with the other person’s quirks for the rest of your life.” First of all, until you’re together under the same roof for a while, you don’t know the other has any quirks. You’re drawn to that silent man who doesn’t feel the need to throw words around like he’s got plenty to spare. And he’s drawn to that woman whose strong, outgoing personality seems to not mind confrontation. Then she realizes he so rarely speaks; she sometimes nudges him to see if he’s dead. He begins to understand she might not like conflict, but she’ll never back down from a fight. That’s when you look at each other and say, “Remember that thing I used to love about you? I hate it now.”

There was, “Admit when you’re wrong.” How primal indeed. We don’t know for certain but Gar and I think that would probably be incomprehensible, and we’re pretty sure if we did it, our souls would leave our bodies. Since we don’t have any self-esteem we wanna get rid of, we don’t admit when we’re wrong. We simply squint our eyes and whisper, “Swords and pistols at dawn.”

Then, “Love evolves and it’s not always fireworks so be sure of how you feel about one another.” You can’t tell a young couple how it’s going to develop. One day you’re not eating as much as a crumb of aunt Abby’s apple pie because you’re on the “look-good-naked diet.” Then one morning you wake up and realize the onion soup from last night’s dinner is odorous on your breath, but you don’t make it a priority to jump up and brush your teeth.

“You’ll need to ignore a lot.” We’d flown into Houston and our grafted-in-daughter, Gelly, and the four grandkids came to get us. As we drove to Lake Jackson, the kids’ movie was over so 6-year-old Penny, sitting in her car seat on the back row, asked for the CD case to pick another one. Gelly passed it back, but it only got as far as 4-year-old Emma, who was sitting beside me in the middle seat. She calmly put the case on her lap, while from the back her sister whined, “Emma, I asked for it.” Emma never spoke a word, just quietly searched for a moment, picked a movie, then nonchalantly handed it to her mother. Obviously, Emma was ahead of the game and knew a little something about ignoring a lot, and also understood, “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

“Your spouse will change and you need to be supportive of how their body becomes different.” We don’t always age gracefully, in fact Gar likes to point out that there is nothing glorious about getting old. I agree, since my neck is starting to resemble a 100-year-old tortoise’s. Gar’s hair is thinning, which it has every right to, he’s pulled most of it out being married to me.

“It’s imperative that you retain or develop a sense of humor.” While in Florida, Gar was helping our second son, Tanner, power wash the decks in 90-degree heat. Upon finishing, they were sitting at the table sipping iced tea, when our then 2-year-old granddaughter Lydia noticed gramps was hot and sweaty. She hurried for a damp washcloth and began gently wiping his arms and hands. Back and forth she’d go for water, compassionately applying the cool cloth in service to her beloved grampa. Finally, her mother’s suspicions were raised and, following behind, she realized the trips to get water were coming, not from the sink, but directly from the toilet.

We have to love our spouse through what we don’t understand. Early in our marriage Gar and I were having an argument and at high volume, he shouted, “I can’t read your mind, but I’m trying.” For some reason it struck me as funny so I yelled back, “Well, if you’re going to read minds it’s good to start with a simple one.”

Trena Eiden                  [email protected]

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