Dr. Seuss once said, “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
And that’s nice and all.
But then you get married and reality isn’t always that great because maybe somebody snores or is kind of weird about “staying within the household budget,” and your dreams start to look pretty good by comparison. Because marriage can be the biggest blessing and the most significant challenge two people ever take on.
It’s the joy of knowing there is someone to share in your sorrows and triumphs and the challenge of living with someone who thinks it’s a good idea to hang a giant antelope on your living room wall.
The days are filled with laughter and compromise. And then there are days filled with silence and anger. But at the end of it all, you’re two people God has joined to journey through life together. For better or for worse. In hunting season and in health.
A few weeks ago, I spent most of the day at my best friend Gulley’s house. It was one of those rare, gorgeous Saturdays in Texas when the weather is absolutely perfect. We’d spent our time catching up on life while the kids ran around the yard and did their best to see if there was a way one of them could end up in the ER before nightfall. It’s like their hobby to see which of them can make us yell first, “WHY DID YOU DO THAT? YOU’RE GOING TO KILL YOURSELF!”
As day turned to evening, Gulley invited us to stay for dinner. So I called Perry to let him know that was the plan, and he said he’d meet us at Gulley’s in the next hour or so to help with the grilling of the meat. Because nothing really brings men together like building a fire and cooking on it. I’m pretty sure that’s in the book of Proverbs.
And since it was after five o’clock by that point, and since nothing wears you out quite like watching your children try to push each other off a trampoline, Gulley and I sat out on the swing in her backyard and began to reflect on life in that way you do with your best friend.
The past week had been full of various political rants in the news, and seeing as we’d already covered our latest thoughts on The Bachelor and how we felt about colored skinny jeans, our conversation turned to these controversial topics. I was feeling pretty good about life and began a whole discourse on how all we need is love. Just like the Beatles told us in 1967.
I said I felt like maybe I’d been too harsh in the past. Too black and white. Too quick to judge someone before thinking about how they might feel or what they’ve been through. I’m sure by this time I was waving my hands wildly in that way I do when I feel strongly about something, and I concluded this whole diatribe by saying, “I want my next forty years to be about love. If I err, then let me err on the side of love. May it be said of me that I always erred on the side of love.”
Gulley nodded and we toasted to erring on the side of love, feeling pretty good about ourselves and our new magnanimous take on life. Then I looked up and saw that Perry had arrived. So we made our way back into the house to figure out what we needed to do to get dinner started.
I kissed him on the cheek as I walked into the living room, and he asked, “What were y’all talking about out there on the swing?” Feeling good about my new resolution, I replied, “I was telling Gulley that I’ve decided maybe I’ve been too hard on people in the past. From now on, I’m going to err on the side of love.”
(Please picture me saying that like I’m Ghandi. I felt like I’d never been more profound.)
Perry looked right and me and without missing a beat said, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Well, I bet no one ever talked like that to Ghandi.
But that’s marriage. You are two very different people who aren’t going to agree on everything. There are times you might feel like the person you married is dead inside because they want to quote the apostle Paul after you’ve just declared that you want to err on the side of love. And sometimes those moments will lead to a fight in the middle of your best friend’s living room that causes her and her husband to find an excuse to leave the room.
Marriage is a constant push and pull of thoughts and ideas and values and arguing over whether $100 is too much to pray for a pair of jeans. (It’s not.) But it’s also the most literal example of how iron sharpens iron.
When I look back on sixteen years Perry and I have been married, I can see the places where we’ve made each other better. There are parts of us etched into each other like the rings in the trunk of a tree.
We’ve grown, we’ve changed, we’ve been forever marked. And ultimately, we are so much better together than either of us would be on our own.
Sometime we err on the side of love, and sometimes we think that’s a dumb idea. But we are in this thing together for the rest of our lives—not just for better or for worse, but for better AND worse. No one else drives me crazier, makes me laugh louder, or causes me to fall in love all over again when I least expect it.
And that’s what this book is about. The times that brought us together and the time we were falling apart. The days that we wouldn’t trade for anything in this world, and the days that he hung an antelope on my wall.
Welcome to my story of a real marriage. Dead animals and all.
We’re giving away three copies of Melanie’s new book, The Antelope in the Living Room! To enter, leave a comment telling us the most ridiculous/silly/random item your husband has ever brought home (like the antelope’s head in Melanie’s story).
By entering today’s giveaway, you acknowledge LifeWay Christian Resource’s official promotion rules. Today’s giveaway starts at the posting time of this blog and ends next Tuesday (2/25/13) at 11:59 p.m. CST. You must be 18 to enter, and you may only enter once. The winner will be selected at random. For questions about the rules and regulations of this giveaway, please contact Bud Harlan at One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-140.