A while ago The Coach asked me to pray with him. He prayed for our friend M, whose marriage is a step-yes, step-no non-union; for her little son, A, who at six thinks that by hating his father he is loving his mother; for grace in fulfilling our calling—that is his term for his coaching and my writing, bless him; and for the child/children we desire (whenever he starts praying for twins, I silently add a little caveat: Lord, when in Your most gracious will, You answer his prayer, please grant the resources and the strength to raise—gulp—twins).
Then he prayed for us, for our relationship. “Panginoong Diyos,” he said, “we don’t have a perfect marriage. But…” and then he semi-laughed, so faint I could discern it only from the way his voice rose and fell in slight singsong, “…we get along.”
A few hours before, while he was trying to earn brownie points by washing the dishes he should’ve done waaaaaay earlier, he had mentioned how many of our laugh-out-loud times are fun only to us and don’t elicit as much amusement from others, when shared. I thought maybe he was referring to those fun times when he was praying, but now I think he was truly, honestly grateful, and perhaps a little surprised, that we get along—in spite of.
Getting along 24/7 is incredibly difficult, even when you love the other. The very things that you used to consider cute in the other could be the very same things that exasperate you no end. It takes enormous strength not to nag a spouse (The Coach) to please put the dirty clothes in the hamper, as well as enormous grace to forgive an erring but unrepentant partner (me) who still doesn’t know how to say sorry. Little things—like not jiggling the flush handle a couple of times to stop the water closet from continuously flushing water (me) or forgetting to water the plants (The Coach; his classic line: What? We have a plant?)—could start a war. It is unbelievably easy to fan a spark of irritation into an inferno simply by hurling grand generalizations that start with, “You never…” or “You always…” Dangerous ipse dixits that attack the person instead of the fault or omission can escalate, and before you know it, one will end up sleeping on the couch, while the other tosses and turns in bed, pretending she (all right, me) is justified in locking the door. (That’s why you gotta believe them truisms printed onto mugs. For a time I sported a drink holder that read: Marriage is the only war where you sleep with the enemy.)
Getting along takes the right combination of and timing for blindness and deafness, perhaps more so for The Coach, since I can be quite crabby, PMS or no, and veer annoyingly to the dramatic. If, say, he were to ask me where the key to our inadvertently locked bedroom is kept, I simply wouldn’t tell him where it is: I have to lean my head to my left, tap my fingers on my cheek, one after the other, look up to the ceiling and say not so nicely, “Hmmm. If I were to die, say, right now, then you’d have to break down the door to get your pants so you won’t be in your boxers when the guys from the morgue arrive to pick me up.” Oh, I can be so annoying, even to me.
But The Coach has learned to just snort at my affectations (as well as know what items are stored in the utility room), even before I learned not to carry over into our home any dramatizations that should remain in my writing. I just zip my lip. And somehow we get along.