The first real test of our marriage vows arrived ten months after we said them.
It was true love. “Isn’t she beautiful?” My husband whispered, over and over again, a tear rolling down his cheek. But I just couldn’t see it.
Truth is, I wanted to set her on fire.
“She” was eighteen feet long and weighed nearly 2000lbs, and took up half of the garage. She was a flatbed trailer, purchased at auction, for his new landscape business.
The fact that he also believed that I was beautiful suddenly lost some of its charm.
Marriage is a trade-off. You trade your sanity for the promise to not be alone in your old age. We were still learning, but there were things we knew every marriage needed to succeed.
The first is communication.
“You aren’t keeping that thing in my garage!” I communicated.
“It’s my half of the garage, I can do what I want!” he communicated back.
The second is space. Reluctantly, I gave it to him.
Getting in and out of my car now required an extension ladder, a vat of Crisco and a proximity to the gear shift that made certain parts of me very, very nervous. Anyone in the passenger side needed to bring a sleeping bag or hang on to my ankles as I slid down the hood and stuck a three point landing in the kitchen.
The third key to a successful marriage is compromise. We tried. I found that if I shut the engine off and jumped out at the top of the driveway I could sprint inside just before the car rolled to a stop on the strategically placed George Foreman grill. And since the door into the house was on my side, he had to live somewhere else.
He relinquished the garage, but started parking the trailer diagonally across the driveway. We were finally forced to negotiate a truce when I announced that I would be raising pigs on my half. I was mostly kidding.
It wouldn’t be our last negotiation. In the years since, we grew up and had two children of our own. We learned how to love someone more than ourselves, and what it means to put your heart and soul into raising and nurturing something that can’t remember to flush a toilet or find it’s shoes. We learned that the rules are a good place to start – but success lies in the choice to put someone else first when it may be the last thing you want to do.
Love isn’t in the falling, it’s in what you do when you hit the ground.