Marriage’s Medicine: Laughter

IMG_1075It was the kind of laughter that comes from the belly and turns into tears. The kind that reminds you that you are, indeed, still able to laugh that hard, even if you’d forgotten what it felt like.

So there we sat around the table, tears rolling down our flushed faces. I was somewhere in the middle of a story on missed calls and misunderstandings. Night clubs, odd hours of the morning and my husband were central players in the plot. Unlikely as it may sound, that combination of elements did not disqualify my story as nonfiction. And in the retelling, actions that had once resulted in dreaded silence were now retold to the tune of laughter.

So we held hands over fondue and red wine, across the table from the dearest of friends, trying to beat each other to the next part of the story. Interrupting to make our case, interjecting to save face. My husband and I.

And as is the case for many marriages, a point of contention healed into a scar and somehow became a story. The kind of story told over dinner with good friends for a laugh so deep and so real you’re almost glad the incident ever happened in the first place.

Looking back days later, I can’t help but wonder at the joy in marriage. The impossibly ironic gift of two people messing up and misunderstanding and making up because it’s worth it. And because the lumps are short lived, but the stories and the scars, but mostly the smiles, live on forever.

I’m thankful to have a husband who understands the value in both forgiving and being forgiven. We all need both in marriage. What’s more, I’m thankful to have a husband who understands that laughter is life’s medicine, especially when directed to stories that are our own.

While it may sound easy and cliché and even a little corny, laughter may be likened to marriage’s ammunition. It levels bitterness before bitterness builds barriers. It wards off spite before spite turns to silence. Despite what we might think, laughter isn’t always the easy choice. In fact, it isn’t often the easy choice. Sulkiness and separation are.

Marriage offers no shortage of issues to both work through and work on. But what we’re working for is certainly worth it. And when we’ve trudged our way through the trying time, when we’ve weathered the storms and the stories, perhaps sometimes the most healing and helpful remedy is to retell. To retell the painful stories palm in palm. To let tears roll freely, but differently, this time. With smiles wide and faces flush and a laughter so deep it comes from the soul.

Question to comment or contemplate: What in your life could be healed, made whole…and even, just maybe, laughed about?

Opposites Attract?

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Although I’d like to think I’ve matured beyond the steep climbs and sheer free falls, my life has, at times, resembled that of a human roller coaster. I don’t mean events or experiences. I mean me—emotions, moods, the fabric of who I am. I’m typically either all this or all that. All in or all out.

The past few years I’ve been working on project middle ground—and more than just catching a glimpse of that sacred space as I pass by from one extreme to another like a teeter totter tipped into motion. It has been, shall we say, a learning experience.

All that to say, one of the reasons I was initially attracted to my husband was his consistency. I admired his steadiness, the continuity of his character. His coolness was exactly what I desired in a husband, and on the flip side, I like to think my spirit was a large part of what he wanted in a wife.

Opposites attract, they always say.

Well guess what “they” have forgotten to say? Opposites also drive you insane.

And so it was only a few nights ago, nearly six years into this marriage dance, I found the words rattling harsh off my lips.

I just wish you showed some emotion! I want to know you really care!

Thankfully, justified as it may have been, he didn’t choose that particular moment to begin showing his emotions in any exceptional way.

But here I was, complaining about consistency. That same quality I had once found commendable. I was all of the sudden frustrated with his cool and calm. I wanted a reaction! A response! I wanted more energy, more emotion, more affect….

But then it hit me. What I was really asking for was more of me. Because at that instant in time it just seemed easy. More convenient.

Just change yourself to be like me so I don’t have to try and see the value of you. So I don’t have to make an effort to know ways other than my own. So I can be lazy and unchanged and fit you into the mold of what I know and how I operate.

When selfishness sets in, attraction can turn into abrasion and opposites feel more like opposition.

I had married a man who was so diametrically opposed to my extremes because something in me knew it was exactly what I needed. And truly, it is. But in a moment of weakness, or more like laziness, I had changed my mind. I chose me. I quit seeing the value in two different people who come together to make a more complete team. Instead, tunnel vision took effect, and it was my way or the highway.

Six years in, and I’m still learning. I’m learning life is more than my own balancing act. It’s much more than me simply finding my way to a middle ground.

Life may be a journey, but I don’t want to blaze my own trail. I want to learn what it means to travel together. In the midst of a selfish moment, a one woman show can sound alluring, but I know better. The true treasure is found in the team. I want to learn what it means to hold true to my spirit–that fire and spunk which my husband so adores–while honoring my opposites in him.
So the marriage dance continues, and I’ll keep saying my sorrys and learning my lessons. I’ll start fresh and begin again. Because in marriage, that’s what we do.

But today, especially today, I think I’ll be thankful. Thankful for my spirit and spunk, and yes, even my extremes. Mostly, though, today I’ll be thankful for a husband who puts up with, not portrays, them.

What I’m Reading – March

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve made it a point to read at least two books each month. I’ll start sharing my monthly reads here! I’ve already made a list of some of my favorite books, from each of which I’ve read, enjoyed, and gained a little bit of wisdom.

My two books for March are Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. They are two very different books, but both of them have had a big impact.

The Power of Habit was very science-based. It was heavy on research studies and evidence-based information. I’ll admit I found both the very beginning and very end sections to be a little dry, but the middle had some golden information. In particular, I think this book offered tangible take-aways for molding and changing personal habits. I’m anxious to apply some of the information in my own life!

Where do I even begin with Bread and Wine? Okay, I’m biased, Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite authors. Her ability to turn food into spiritual matter and stories into the substance of life is exceptional. This book has lessons in the form of real life narratives. Oh, and recipes. It has recipes too. If you aren’t already, I think you might want to be both a Christian and a cook after reading this.

 

Just to catch you up…

January reads:

February reads: