On Valentines Day, rather than dinner and dessert and cuddles under a blanket, we fought.
I said things like, “I feel like I just bared my soul, and you spit in my face.”
He said things like, “This is exactly why I don’t try to communicate.”
And we sat. For three hours. In the floor. Not touching, not even looking at each other, both licking our own wounds, both to proud to concede.
I went from vulnerable, to confused, to frustrated, to infuriated, and back again. Several times over.
This is marriage.
It’s loving and serving someone else, considering what they need in this moment to be more important than what you need. It seems unfair sometimes. A lot of times. It’s an exhausting, endless routine of dying to yourself. And being that we’re human…broken, tainted, messed-up human…it goes against our nature.
Survival of the fittest doesn’t work within the context of marriage. It destroys it.
What I wanted was to be heard. What he wanted was to be understood. We both wanted to be seen, acknowledged, validated. But we were so self-absorbed, both so obsessed with being heard rather than listening, that we stood toe-to-toe in fury instead.
And when it was over…we both felt beat up. Wounded. And I said it out loud, that I felt wounded.
And then he said quietly, almost in a whisper, “Terrica, I never want to harm a single hair on your head, much less a piece of your heart.” And something in me melted.
Not because of what he said, though his words were beautiful, but because suddenly I heard him. I heard what he was trying to communicate. His words reminded me of what I already knew, his heart. And knowing that, being reminded of that, made the whole thing seem silly.
It was too late to cook, so we had yogurt and granola and went to bed. There was no chocolate. There were no flowers. And though those things are nice, in a few days or weeks they would have been long gone, forgotten. Any kind of token or gift would have been about a day. Instead, our evening was about forever. It was about our marriage. It was about understanding, still trying after almost 9 years to understand rather than be understood.
When I crawled into bed I knew one thing, that he loved me.
I know he loves me because he fights for me. Rather than walking out of the room or zoning out in front of the television, he sits in the floor and lets me rant and cry and scream obscenities if necessary. Instead of storming out he plants his feet, his heart, and stays until we’re better. Instead of slamming doors he’ll sit in the car in the darkness as the minutes tick by for hours, in the cold, in the hot, and let me process until things make sense.
He loves me, because in fighting with me, he’s always fighting for me.
That’s his heart. Always, that’s his heart. I don’t need a holiday to be reminded of it, because he offers it daily.
This is marriage.
As I slid between the sheets assuming him fast asleep, he reached for me. He grabbed me violently by the forearm and pulled me tightly to his chest, wrapping his arms around me, refusing to let go. And I thought, I love him more than I did yesterday. I love him more than I did this morning. I love God more for knowing so well what I needed in a husband who will forever love me despite myself, despite my selfishness.
This… is marriage.
So! How did YOUR Valentines Day turn out?? ;-)