Daryl and I will be married 20 years in August. We laugh as we sit and reminisce about our years together. We've had tough times, but we agree, it's been mostly a wonderful time. I still like him...a lot! In the early years, it was easier to stumble over our differences and scratch our heads in confusion as we tried to figure each other out. Years roll by though, and with time, we look at each others weaknesses less and see each other just for who we are.
Have we grown and changed over the years? Certainly. But some habits and quarks, we just don't care to refine. "Why do you think we still like each other?" Daryl asked last night while we were on a date. We exchanged a gamut of thoughts. Then Daryl began to talk about what a difference being gracious with each other makes. Instead of focusing on each other's habits and quarks, living with a grudging tolerance of each other, we zone in on the things we enjoy about each other.
In our years together, you'd think I would know how to put the vacuum away properly and Daryl would know how to dispose of a Christmas tree. We laugh about our idiosyncrasies. We crack ourselves up, which could be either a sign we are both slightly crazy or that we've learned the art of grace after 20 years. I asked Daryl if he care if I told the Christmas tree story. He once told me, when I asked to tell another story... about our brand new stove flying out the back of our pickup at 50 miles an hour, he didn't mind if I told his story at a ladies retreat I shared at. His response? "That's the great thing about being married to me. I give you great material!" Haha! Yes, he does!
Anyway, the Christmas tree. There is that window of time when people generally disposes of their Christmas tree. Daryl would choose to set our tree outside. Just outside. Somewhere. One year, the tree was there til March-behind the house. A few years later, the tree was next to the back yard garage til...June. That's almost Christmas in July! But then, he beat his record and the tree laid next to that garage until September! As we discussed the disposal of the tree, he jokingly suggested we just keep it and put it up like the Charlie Brown tree. It went to the dump that day. The next year though, we cut down another tree and he was "trimming" it up. It was going to look beautiful in our house with the high ceiling. Somehow, he sawed the tree in half!!! It was instantly dubbed the Christmas "Bush". The kids got such a kick out of it and talked about it so much, we had people stop by the house and ask if they could look at our Christmas Bush. We'd even sing the song, "Oh Christmas Bush, Oh Christmas Bush, how lovely were your branches." I think our Christmas trees were Daryl's arch nemesis, that is, until we moved to Montana where he took our tree to the tree disposal sight, came home and declared, "You should be so proud! Our's was the 3rd tree on the pile!" Honestly, he'd never been sexier than at that moment!
I hate to admit it, but Daryl has beat his nemesis before me. Mine is the vacuum. For 20 years, my vacuum has never had a "place". There is truly not a designated place for our vacuum to reside when it's not being used. Its place is whatever room it was last used in. This is why I often here the kids ask, "Where's the vacuum?" Someday, I too will beat my nemesis.
Learning to be gracious about stupid little things like this are what have kept us from forgetting that we really do like each other... a lot!
Grace in marriage is seeing who a person is at the core, loving who they are and appreciating what they are good at without harping them to death about their failures. I can paint murals on walls, turn a piece of junk into art, and talk the leg off a mule. Daryl can build or fix almost anything, make us all laugh every night, and listen 'til the cows come home. We make a good pair. Idiosyncrasies and all.