As in many things, Bryan and I are quite opposites and quite stubborn about staying that way.
Yesterday after class, I was determined to go for a run – I hadn’t been in a while. And Bryan was determined to cook for the evening. I came back 28 minutes later to a smoky apartment and an apprehensive husband sneering at the stove.
“This was a terrible idea. The chicken isn’t cooking right,” Bryan seemed about to storm out of the kitchen.
I opened a window to let some of the smoke subside and suggested that he turn the heat down – because, I explained, the cast-iron skillet he used for cooking the chicken gets very hot very fast. Bryan looked at me like I was crazy.
“Okay?” he sighs.
We stand there for a bit, just staring at the chicken. I’m sweaty from my run and tired. He’s clearly frustrated with the $7 chicken and 8″ too-fast-cooking-and-confusing-to-operate cast-iron skillet.
“I would have put some olive oil down first,” I prod, “and maybe add some spices or something.” I crinkle my nose, wholly too critical and yet at a loss to why Bryan’s not understanding that the chicken is cooking too fast on the outside to cook all the way on the inside.
We stare each other down before Bryan storms out and I’ve decided to take a shower.
We eat dinner with clinking forks – and silence broken only by Bryan’s self-critique of the chicken (which turned out quite good, I have to say. I ended up having it for dinner tonight).
It was an unpleasant dinner to say the least. Unpleasant due to the briefest of looks; the shortest of words.
We had to hurry because Blue & White magazine was interviewing us about being married as graduate students. Oh the irony. My stubborn will wouldn’t let me apologize and I silently thought how awkward this interview would be… We snipped at each other on car ride there. Bryan tried to make up by apologizing, but his earlier attitude kept me pouting.
We each got a cup of coffee from Caribou and sat across from the B&W writer.
“Hi,” she smiled sweetly. “So tell me, how did you two meet?”
I smiled back, attempting joviality in my tone. Attempting, you see. I told “our story,” pretending to smile every now and again. Just as I was getting to the part where Bryan read Pride & Prejudice after my dare in high school … my cheeks felt a little sore. Hm, was I unconsciously smiling? REALLY smiling?
I looked over at my husband: Bryan was smiling. We had assumed our favorite story like an old coat. And that B&W writer, the best therapist we’ve ever had, smiled and listened and told us our story was sweet and wonderful and so beautiful.
Our anger evaporated in that moment.
We didn’t need an apology or a rehash of what had happened (although we both laughed it up later). I just needed to listen to Bryan reaffirm his decision – our decision – to commit to each other forever. And he needed the same.
Is this how it is in most marriages? The tiniest things make the biggest fights? The biggest story – how you met – reminds you of all the good things, of your commitment and love … and that bigger picture is all you need.
I’m sorry if this story is trite. I’m sorry if you know this about marriage, but I’m just learning about it – and I need to be reminded.
Anyway, I wanted to share this small story from our life to remind you:
1. We are not perfect. We fight.
2. We have chosen to love each other – regardless.
3. We love coffee. Er, I love coffee, Bryan humors me.