Many years ago, I was watching an episode of Snapped, a TV show about wives who just snapped one day and killed their spouse. In this particular episode, the woman had poisoned her husband, and then set him on fire. While I was in bed watching, Paul was brushing his teeth. When he heard this, he popped his head out and said “I don’t think you should watch that." I told him to shut up. I was taking notes.
We “joke” like that all the time. I have had several people tell me they would never survive in our household. They would be in tears all the time, and those were men saying that! “Joking and teasing” is what makes us work.
But there are times that the fact that Paul is simply breathing, irritates me, and I know it’s the same for him. I started watching Snapped again the other day, and Paul started watching Strangers On a Train, which is a diabolical plan for murder. Sounds about right for a 29 year marriage!
After I said all that, you may not believe it, but Paul and I rarely fight. It was different in the beginning. When you’re a newlywed, everything is a bit new and a bit heightened. Right after we were married, we were arguing about something, and I jokingly said, “Well, I guess you want to divorce me.“ Paul immediately and very seriously said, “No matter what, divorce isn’t an option.“ And now, all the murder talk makes sense, doesn’t it? (Notice no quotation marks.)
I had the opportunity this week to be around a young couple who was arguing. The young woman had made a mistake, and hurt the young man’s feelings deeply. She apologized, but he seemed intent on making her feel his pain. He used strong, harsh words to describe the situation and slung a little mud.
I remember when feelings were that tender and any pain called for a backlash. It’s hard to learn how to fight fair; it takes time. It’s also hard to watch, as I can attest.
Earlier this week, I was also able to witness someone who suffered an insult caused by carelessness, and the response could not have been more different. The injured party in this case did not sweep it under the rug and ignore, but neither did they attack. They acknowledged it with a grace and understanding that was awe-inspiring.
I wish I could say that time and experience helps everyone respond in a better manner, but it’s not true. It takes a lot of effort to respond in a compassionate and gracious way, so I will continue to work on my responses, but in the meantime, I may try to catch a rerun of Snapped.