In an attempt to reflect on our first year of marriage, I’ve been scratching out a few thoughts on things I’ve learned during these past [almost] 365 days.
Before Geoff and I were engaged, I begged him to take me camping in Red River Gorge, KY. I painted an idealistic picture of us sitting in the sun under a canopy of colored leaves and roasting food over the fire. “It’ll be a breath of fresh air. A relaxing few days away from the city!” I said. After much coaxing on my part and seeking guidance from those we trust on boundaries and the like, he agreed to the two day camping trip.
Now, I love the outdoors…but my family didn’t grow up camping out in the woods. My mother is a beach girl. Sunshine, comfortable beds, crashing waves. I learned at a young age that this is actually what heaven will be like.
I have no idea how to set up a tent, no idea how to start a fire, and honestly probably couldn’t survive if the world ended and we had no electricity or running water.
My husband, on the other hand, is a pro. I’m pretty positive that if he hadn’t married me, he’d be living out in some forest, living the life of a hermit, and medically treating wounded hikers he stumbled upon along the Appalachian Trail. So when I showed up with a tent consisting of parts that went to an entirely different tent, I imagine he probably was asking himself what he had signed up for.
Without boring you with an entire day of mishaps and miscommunication, I’ll leave you with the image of a passionate discussion [that’s a better way to describe arguing, yeah?] from two different tents at 3am, shivering violently on the cold ground. [I’m sorry…but self-inflating sleeping pad should mean that it self-inflates…not that you have to blow it up.]
And then, it happened. Breakfast. All seemed to be going fine until he looked at me and said, “That’s not the best way to cook bacon.” Excuse me? Did he really just say that?
“What?” I said, glancing over at him.
“That’s not how you cook bacon.” So, he really did say that.
My tired, bloodshot eyes pierced in to him and my response was less than kind. And then this girl cried for an hour off and on. This was not our finest moment.
And we’ve all been there before in some way or another, right? Our pride creeping up like the bristles on a hedgehog’s back when someone questions our capabilities or our methods. And we’ve probably all been on the other side of things too–watching others and making judgements about how we would do things differently.
I share all of this, because if there is anything I’ve learned in our first year of marriage, it’s that there is no one right way to do most things. Not long after our camping trip, my friend and mentor Amy gave me this piece of advice:
If it’s not immoral, unethical, or a sin, it’s not wrong. Thus, neither of you are right or wrong.
This little piece of advice has changed the way we interact not only in the kitchen but in every area of our life. Granted, as my husband pointed out last night, there are some things that are universally just not a good idea. But most of the time, those examples are universally agreed upon.
Then there are the examples where it’s merely a matter of opinion. Perhaps one of you grew up doing the dishes a certain way. Maybe one of you prefers to use Saturday morning to do chores and the other prefers to sit for at least three hours drinking a cup of coffee [This is SO us. I feel no guilt for that lazy coffee drinking habit. This will end for me in six months, ha!]
During our first few months of marriage, I’d grin, apologize, and say, “I’m sorry…there’s not a right way to cook the eggs. Cook them how you like.” Or he’d say, “I’m sorry…organize that the way you like” or “You’re right. That doesn’t have to be cleaned up this second.” In full transparency, just a month ago I had to apologize for being upset that he bought the wrong brand of—yep—you guessed it…bacon. I felt so silly.
Remembering that there’s no one right way to drive a car, scrub a toilet, organize a cabinet, or save the leftovers has saved us from many unnecessary and silly disagreements. It has taught me to look at the way my organized, methodical husband operates and learn from him rather than believe that my haphazard way of doing things is the only way. Most of the time, he’s right.
It has taught us both to humble ourselves. To learn from each other. To be thankful for the experience and lessons we both bring to the table. And to let things go when they don’t get done the way we would prefer. It’s a lesson both of us continue to learn.
So, whether you’re dating or married or just learning how to interact or live with family or roommates, remember this piece of advice. If it’s not a sin, it’s not wrong. There are hundreds of different perspectives and opinions out there. Dozens of ways to do things. Lay aside your pride and learn from those around you. I promise it will make for a much more peaceful home and a much more sanctified heart.