By Curtis K. Shelburne
Forty-seven years. That’s how long my wife and I have been married. It probably seems longer to her.
I’m counting pretty heavily on the fact that breaking in a new husband would likely be for her, at this point, more trouble than it’s worth.
These days, the statistics for folks who get married as young as we did are pretty grim. And I will admit, if one of my grandkids expressed a desire to get married at age 18, I’d likely need some sort of sedation.
But for those who marry young and survive to grow up together and grow old together with their first spouse, blessings abound. Of course, all married couples face some challenges. Fewer challenges, I think, than folks who choose to live together without vows and can cut and run at any moment, but challenges nonetheless.
Early on, my wife and I faced and dealt with the toilet paper challenge. She explained to me an advantage or two of the “under” rather than “over” approach to hanging TP. It still seemed rather uncivilized to me, and we went with “over.”
Couples also bump quickly into practical decisions regarding everyday household chores. I am not a great dishwasher, but I am fairly proficient at gathering and carrying out trash. Since my beloved doesn’t like the way I load dishwashers, and since I’m not sure she knows where the dumpster is, the “division of labor” solution we came up with in this regard seemed easy and obvious.
Moving on, we came to the potential contention regarding toothpaste. More specifically, toothpaste tubes. In our marital alliance, I discovered very quickly that my wife takes it as a personal affront if any tube of toothpaste fails to surrender its last molecule of product. I’ve watched in amazement as she tortures toothpaste tubes until they give up every bit of their tooth goop and beg for mercy. She is not happy if I, in frustration, toss a tube into the trash too soon. So now I work my personal toothpaste tube down to a reasonable level, and then I surreptitiously switch out my dwindling tube for her fuller one. Win win.
By the way, her particular talent extends to anything that comes in a plastic bottle. I was a bit concerned (my heart skipped a beat or two) when I first discovered a large butcher knife stored in a drawer on her side of the bathroom. (Does the surname Bobbitt ring any bells?) Turns out she uses that rather frightening instrument to saw lotion-dwindling bottles in two so she can—you guessed it—retrieve any recalcitrant hand lotion molecules out of the containers.
We are somewhat similar in our “chronotypes.” Neither of us is a lark (a morning person), and neither is an extreme owl (a night person), though we (particularly me) definitely tend to be “owl-ish.” Neither of us arises merrily to chase the dawn, and one of us can get along just fine with limited light and speech until quite a good while after dawn and copious amounts of coffee.
The way two streams can come together to form one marital river is rather amazing. Why would we expect to have no occasional turbulence at their convergence? But—and this is also deeply true—who could ever have dreamed of the marvelous beauty and unique blessing their flowing together as one, unselfishly un-dammed, could become?
God. That’s who.
In our society, many self-righteous—and loud—folks may babble incessantly about diversity and equity. Strange, how often they seem to mean, in practicality, forcing lock-step conformity and a dreary sameness. “Equity” tends to mean cutting everyone off at the knees lest anyone grow taller than anyone else.
I think God’s way is better. We’re each and all valued and loved and given varied gifts that we unselfishly use to bless each other, and, to switch to the Apostle Paul’s favorite metaphor, when each “member” of the body functions well, the whole body reaps the amazing benefit.
All of this, I suppose, to say that “better together” and “more than we could ever be apart” are wonderfully true concepts for those who really do love their Lord and each other more than they love themselves.
Mark my words. A young couple able to deal unselfishly with toothpaste and toilet paper issues is off to a great start.
Copyright 2023 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.