(If you are reading this and you know I should be cleaning my house in preparation for Furniture Moving Night, I PROMISE PROMISE PROMISE that this is just a short break. Promise. Lots of things will be cleaned in the next 5 hours. Promise.)

(If you are not one of those very few people, sorry for the bad intro.)

So, marriage.

I know I talked about writing about Biblical marriage, and eventually, I promise, I will. I *think* DB and I have worked pretty hard on creating that. It’s a work in progress, you know. We have talked about it with a number of different people, though, so we have a generally good sense of the end goal. (For those of you who are not of my belief system and whose only understanding of what I’m talking about is the Southern Baptist way of explaining marriage, where a wife “submits” to her husband, the omnipresent source of fortitude and decision-making, know that I am not of that ilk, as you might understand it.)*

So I was unloading the dishwasher a few minutes ago, and as I was putting away our cool blue dishes that were a wedding gift, I came across this one white ugly plate that is a holdout from DB’s bachelor days. It made me start to think about the conversation we had last night at the dog park about communication, and it made me laugh, and I decided you all needed to know about it.

Right before we got married, one of DB’s older, wiser colleagues (who has some very odd personality traits, but somehow has managed to stay married for like 30 years – which is amazing considering how odd he is, and he is the first to say it) pulled him aside, and said, “Remember, marriage is about communicating expectations and needs.” He’s said it, oh, say, maybe 800 times since March 2005. We kind of repeat it like a mantra.

It’s amazingly true.

Right AFTER we moved here, we were engaged, but not living together (as I’ve mentioned before). DB was living with some friends (he had lived here before to go to law school and had lots of friends here), and I was living with crazy people in a house. (Don’t bash me for calling them crazy. They were. The girl bought a house but couldn’t afford the utilities for said house, so we kept it at a toasty 50*F all. winter. long. You could see your breath in the house, and we had to defrost the bathroom pipes with a HAIR DRYER.) One Friday night, DB called and I was sitting at home, probably exhausted from my horrible, thankless job as a substitute teacher. (Did I say thankless? Holy hell, it is. Aragahagh.)

DB: “Hey, what are you up to?”
Me, silently: ‘What do you think? We just moved here and I’m living with crazy people.’ But the walls were thin, so:
Me: “Not much…what are YOU up to?”
DB: “Thinking about what to do. What are you doing for dinner?”
Me, silently: “Helllllooooo, it’s Friday night in a city I moved to for YOUR job. You figure it out! Come pick me up!!”
Me, out loud: “Well…what are you doing?”
DB: “Well, J [roommate] and I were thinking about going out”
Me, in a poorly-veiled huff: “OK then! I guess I’ll just have CEREAL!”
DB, very happily oblivious: “OK!”

Not the stuff of a wonderfully communicative marriage, folks.

I hung up and cried, and cried, and cried, and called my MOM, and told her “I don’t WANT TO EAT CEREAL! I thought we would go out! He SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!”

To which she replied, “Honey, there will be a LOT of things he ‘should have known‘.”

Then DB called back, totally oblivious, and couldn’t figure out why I was sobbing.

We made a lot of progress that night over not-cereal for dinner.

****

The dishes: I brought them up, and now I’ll explain why.

In our pre-dating life, DB and I were friends, although we lived on opposite sides of the state in which we grew to love each other. About a year after he’d lived in his bachelor pad, he decided he needed furniture, and asked me to come with him to Ikea (I love Ikea!) I figured it was a fun time, so I went to visit him and then we set off on the long (4 hour) drive to the closest Ikea at the time.

Remember, I am *just* a friend on this mission. I thought I was providing company, not decorative advice.

So he looks around at the coffee tables, picks out this massive, gargantuan, mammoth of a table, and asks, “Hey, do you like that?” I said, “Sure.” [It’s not going in my house, so why not? But wow, that’s quite…ugly. Glad it’s not going in my living room!]

He gets to the dishes, which he apparently needs, because he’s been eating off of his parents’ fine china (!) for the last year (his parents are long-ago divorced – randomly he got the china). He picks out the most boring, ugly, off-white ceramic dishes that would look right at home in an institutionalized setting – from among many other options that look very attractive – and asks, “what about these?” Me: “Sure!” [They’re cheap, sure, but MAN, they are ugly!]

He gets to the glasses, and picks out the $0.25 glasses with weird little decorative rims around them, and happily shoves them into his cart after procuring my blessing.

Little did I know: Those items would be joining us…forever. They may be cheap, but they do. not. die.

So then we started dating, and we got engaged, and we moved to our current city, I lived with crazy people, and once we got married, we moved to this puny apartment (maybe 250? sq feet). It wouldn’t have been bad, except that DB contributed most of the furniture. Including that lovely massive hulking coffee table.

The room was so small that you’d walk into it and be forced to either sit on the couch or hurdle it (and climb over the mammoth table). The couch touched the coffee table, which touched the tiny TV, which didn’t seem that tiny since it was oh, say, 3 feet away. (The TV is like an 8″ TV. I’m not exaggerating when I saw tiny.)

We kept the dishes, despite their insane ugliness. We got cool new dishes for our wedding, but we kept both sets of dishes in the rotation – I didn’t want to hurt DB’s feelings, and he thought I liked them, too.

Then, we moved to our current place.

And we were unpacking.

And we had no space for two sets of dishes (not that we did before, either).

And I cried, because I was extra emotional, and said, “DB, I really hate these dishes!”

And he said, “Me too! I thought we kept them because YOU liked them. Let’s get rid of them!”

And what followed was a discussion about expectations. He expected me to make sure he didn’t buy something stupid. I didn’t think he wanted my advice, since we were just friends, and who was I to judge his purchases? He thought I *liked* the dishes, since I said, “sure!” when he put them in his cart. I thought he *loved* the dishes – after all, he picked them out, right?

So after…4? years, we ditched most of them. We kept one glass and one place setting, not because they are pretty but because they remind us of what’s important in our relationship.

****TOTAL ASIDE: I will not go into too much about this, but…as we [DB and I] understand it, biblically-based marriage is one of mutual respect and mutual (here’s that dreaded word) submission. Yes, I said it. Submission. To each other. That verse you hear when people are spouting off about Christians and their marriages? I realize it sounds horrible to the non-Christian. I also realize that Christians defend it (as a colleague once did to me, when I was 19 and clueless and very fired up about everything (oh, wait, that hasn’t changed – but I was 19) as this: It is an analogy. Here it goes:

Women:Men
Submitter: Decider
the church submits to God: Jesus loved the church SO much that he sacrificed His life.

Oh, wait, that doesn’t make any sense if you’re not a born-and-bred practicing Christian? I know. So let’s just say this: it’s mutual respect out of love and reverence for Christ. Someone who has been granted “authority” in a marriage, particularly, is being given a great gift. If a marriage is truly characterized by love, a husband would never make a decision/request that harmed his wife, and his wife would never make a request/decision that harmed her husband. Really, the word “submit”, that is so loaded and jaded and angering in modern English, is one of many words that translations could draw upon, and I do find it curious that we, as believers, continue to use it, especially when it incites such anger and is such a clear barrier to those seeking God. Although the Gospel itself can be offensive, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, the human translation of God’s Word CAN be poorly interpreted and if that translation becomes a lightening rod, I do not believe it is glorifying to God.

It IS submission, but it is MUTUAL submission. If ever there are decisions made that are not honoring to the other spouse, the marriage is inconsistent with biblical teaching. That is more than I planned to say on that, and when I feel more intelligent, I will try to flesh out what I am talking about in a better post.

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