Recently SK went to an 80s birthday party. She threw together an outfit from things she had lying around in her present wardrobe, asked me if it looked authentic, and I said, "Looks good to me." And when I look at pictures--of Beve and me as well as a whole nation--from those days, I see poofy hair, puffy sleeves, high waisted jeans (usually acid-washed), and (not on Beve) a whole lot of panty hose.
Ah panty hose. I think fondly of it now, but panty hose was the subject of our first married fight. Our first ever fight, actually, since there weren't any before we married, either. We just didn't have time. We were just a stone's throw away from being really poor that first year. I mean, count every penny and account for them poor. And I wasn't used to either counting or accounting for my pennies. Nor was I used to having to share my closet with a boy, which kind of creeped me out one day when I realized just how enormous his shoes actually were and how much space they'd actually take in our not-very-big apartment-sized closet. I stuck my whole size nines inside his shoes and could walk around in them. As I say, creepy!
But I got used to it. Got used to not being able to see around him in the bathroom, to not worrying about how high to place things in the kitchen because he'd always be able to reach the top shelf. Not having a full half of even a large bed because a 6'7" man takes up a whole lot of space. I got used to all of it.
Then one morning as I was putting on panty-hose to go to work, he stared at me a moment then said, "You're doing it wrong. That's why you get so many runs in them." I think my jaw hit the carpet.
Now all of you women who have worn hose (and lucky you who haven't had to) know exactly how I was putting on those hose. I scrunched both legs to the toes, pulled one all the way up, pulled it back down then pulled up the other with it, so they'd go on evenly. WITHOUT RUNS.
"Excuse me?" I asked Beve. "How many pairs of panty hose have you actually put on?"
"None, but I can tell it's inefficient to pull them up and down that way. Just put them on like pants."
"LIKE PANTS??? You don't know what you're talking about."
He walked out of the room, left the apartment and went to work. Without another word.
By the time he got there, he was sorry, and I was sorry and we talked it out. And now we've had many laughs about how silly it was.
But the truth is, most of the fights between people begin as silly things. Really silly things like panty-hose, or where to throw kleenex or which way coats should be hung on hangers or any one of a hundred-thousand other things. 'I'm right and you're wrong,' we're saying no matter what else we're saying.
I remember the first fight.
And I remember a particular night a couple years later when, after some now-forgotten disagreement, I stood in our bedroom, brooding. Wanting to hold on to my 'righteous' anger (which, of course, was only selfish) about whatever offense I thought had been done to me. Asking God if it would be okay to hold on to it just a little longer. And hearing Him say, "How long? How long before you wouldn't be able to let it go?" There was a clench in my stomach in that moment because I realized that I could do it. I could hold on...but then I couldn't. I had to let go that very instant because the risk was too big. That night I learned that the most deadly thing in marriage wasn't disagreeing, but holding on afterwards. Keeping score. Letting this small fight be tacked to a list with that one, and another one, until some day all there would be between us was a long list of fights and "You're wrong" and "You always..." and "You never..." I remember turning on my heel and running through our apartment to Beve, to make it right with him before another moment passed.
And then--only then--did Beve and I learn to fight, fight fairly, and learn to forgive.
I can't claim that I don't ever brood. But Beve always calls me on it. He's lived with me a long time and knows me very well, which is sometimes really annoying. But God uses Beve to remind me--no list keeping.