Last week, Pepper and I got into a pretty big argument. We both knew we were right and the other person was wrong. We also both knew the other person was making a much bigger deal about the situation than was necessary. And we were both tired. We decided that it was an insurmountable disagreement. It was over unless the other person admitted a million wrongs and swore a blood oath to always admit their failure. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but when you are mad it seems that way.
An amazing number of people in our lives seem to be ending relationships.
When I was little, my parents had an agreement that the one that decided to end their relationship would be the one to take the kids. All of them. 100% of the time. No shared custody there. They joked about it but they did stay together. Neither ever left for long. They would have heated arguments and things would get slammed. Dad would usually leave for a while but he came back. Once when I was about five I asked him why he came home. He told me Mom wouldn’t let him cross the street by himself. Huh, I thought at the time, she wouldn’t let me do that either.
As I am getting older, it seems like I see these distinct ‘life phases’ Pepper and I are going through. We went to lots of our friend’s graduation parties, then lots of weddings then lot of baptisms and birthday parties and now graduation parties again for our kids and our friend’s kids. There are funerals, retirement parties and hospital visits too…. Life seems to be following a well- beaten path that is comfortable and predictable. What isn’t comfortable is when dear friends and family around us suddenly end relationships. A lot of these relationships were ones that I was around to see the beginning of! The names of these couples roll off my tongue as easily as Tom and Jerry, Peanut butter and Jelly and Laverne and Shirley. Yet they split up.
The day of our big fight began as any other. Our whole family was getting along splendidly. We went out for the evening to see a ball game and had a great time. On the way home Pepper and I both said things that we didn’t mean. Well, maybe they wouldn’t have meant anything mean if we weren’t both so tired when we said them. But, we were and the argument snowballed even though the temperature was well over 90 degrees.
Instead of going to bed by 1 AM and dealing with it in the morning (and realizing it was just because we were tired) we stayed up until almost 5 just being mad. The whole time I wasn’t talking I was thinking in my head about the failed relationships of the people around me and how hard it was going to be to split up and deal with the house and finances and the kids and how horrible my life would be without Pepper. At 5 AM we hugged and called it a truce. Neither one of us choose to discuss the issue. There really was nothing to say that would have been better or more effective than that hug.
When our friends call us and tell us they are breaking up they will casually mention how lucky Pepper and I are that we are still together. In my head I think: It isn’t luck. It is hard work. It is compromises and listening when you are too tired to think. It is seeing the best things about someone when you really want to focus on the worst. It is knowing that there are a million great reasons to stay for every bad reason there is to go. It isn’t luck at all. But I am Irish and in my heart I do believe in luck…. So my quick answer is “Who else would want to have me?” Luckily, Pepper does. ☺