Sunday, December 4, 2016

Buy Your Own Boots: Staying Married at Christmastime

I'm just back from an hour-long walk in the rain.  Needed the exercise and to blow off some steam. My dog didn't even want to get out of the car to hit the trail.  That's a new one.  But, it was necessary, rain or not.

It was necessary because my husband and I had kabobs for lunch last Thursday.  I know, it's Sunday. It probably seems like a weird detail to include.  I wish it was.  But, the Thursday lunch is still relevant because we're just getting over it.

Lunch was going well enough, but then...

What do you want for Christmas?

Popular question this time of year.  I said that I actually considered the guitar lessons I'm taking to be my present, since I am so excited about them and they're expensive.

But, then you won't have anything to open on Christmas morning...

Ok, some earrings would be nice.  Or brown boots, like the black ones I'm wearing.  Or my favorite shoes in brown.  Or a new guitar...

But, how would he know what kind of boots I like?  Size?  Color?  Style?  Fit?

Well, it's no different than anything else, unless I pick it out myself.  There's a chance I won't like it, and it can be exchanged.  I'm a size 10.

But, he doesn't want to get a gift that's likely to be exchanged...

Well, I'd rather spend a day shopping with you than have something to unwrap anyway...

But, the damage was done.  He thought I was being difficult and I thought he was being irrational. The cold good-bye kiss felt virtuous because I waited to leave until we were finished eating, when I wanted to walk out in the middle of the meal.  

So, the walk in the rain.  There were some puddles that engulfed the trail, which I was able to tiptoe around on the way out without submerging my foot completely.  But, not so on the way back.  Maybe I was a little tired, but certainly less careful, and the cold water filled my right shoe twice over.

As I walked on with my squishy shoe, I was thinking how easy enough it is not to have a squishy shoe (when was the last time you had one?) and how stepping in a puddle you are trying to avoid is like some moments in marriage.  You can see trouble coming, but try as you might, you can't avoid it. And then, you're in it.  All was well, then rainy, but manageable, then just soaking wet.  

As on time as it could be, a tree, twenty feet or so off the trail, broke off near the top and crashed to the ground.  Yep, I thought, in the throes of making marriage metaphors.  Another perfect example. Don't get enough of what you need some of the time, too much of what you don't need other times, and 20 years later, the top falls off and crashes to the ground.  Poor tree.  It just divorced the forest.

I was the only witness, but it did make a sound.  

Here's the thing.  We're not trees.  We have thresholds like they do, but they don't have feet like we do.  They can't move closer to the things they need or farther away from the things that bring them harm.   And even when we use our feet to step in it up to the ankle, we can still move.

Sometimes moving toward understanding is really loud.  Like a tree smashing to the ground.  Like this morning.  In trying to get back on the same page, voices were charged, and not just our own.  The boys, unaccustomed to such vigorous discussion, were yelling "Shut up!" from a bedroom.  This is not allowed in our home, but apparently they thought the rules had changed, at least momentarily. Although there was no change in the rules, what had changed was they were all in one bedroom, and not fighting.  Nothing like a common enemy to strengthen the bond of brotherhood.

I've been married for fourteen years.  I intend to stay married.  But, sometimes, we have to fight for it. We have to move toward what is important.  Because, we're not trees.  Because we can, and we must. Sometimes, it gets loud and requires a walk in the rain. But, it is always worth it.  Even if it means you buy your own boots and swamp them in a puddle every now and then.

May the God of endurance and encouragement 
grant you to think in harmony with one another, 
in keeping with Christ Jesus, 
that with one accord you may with one voice 
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

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