Last night my husband and I went to bed angry.
Although doing so goes against the classic rule neatly scripted on floral advice cards at bridal showers, we don’t always follow it. In our experience, trying to hash it out past the hour of 11 often launches us on a circular path to nowhere, when all we really need is a fresh sunrise to shed light on our dramatic allegations from the night before. Sometimes, seven hours in dreamland becomes the aloe that soothes the inflammation of the conflict- the erosion that polishes the rough edges. Sometimes.
Now 15 hours later, I can’t recall the specifics of our squabble, although I think it began with someone wanting to watch the Will & Grace premiere instead of the NFL game that was already on. The abrupt blasts of the referees’ whistles and the boisterous echoes of the announcers are like foghorns to one spouse’s ears (as are the actual foghorns), while Karen’s shrill voice causes similar prickling in the other’s. How this scenario grew powerful enough to prevent a goodnight kiss, only God, and well, perhaps a few other newlyweds know.
When you go to sleep in a room clouded by a heavy smog of resentment, sometimes you wake up and the space has cleared. Other times, you flutter your eyelids and think, “Am I still angry? Why yes, yes I am.”
At 2:35 this morning, I was drawn out of a deep slumber by the warm embrace of my partner and a drawn-out kiss on the cheek. My face tingled as his right forearm found comfort resting heavy on my hips.
Aw, how tender of him to find me in the darkness just to cuddle me, I reflected in my sleepy haze. I softly simpered, nuzzling into my silk pillowcase. He’s such a good man. A true prince…No…Wait…Wait a minute. My smile melted like a forgotten Hershey’s kiss in a child’s jeans pocket. I’m mad at him. Hmm…I kind of forget why, but I know there was a reason… a good one…something about… I felt my eyebrows furrow. Primetime TV? Oh geez…
I squeezed his wrist and mumbled a breathy blend of Thank you and Love you, accepting his wordless apology, and vanished back into REM. When my alarm chimed at 6 a.m., I scanned my body and noticed I had no emotional hangover. I got ready for work peacefully (jeans day!) and quickly kissed my husband’s rounded cheek goodbye.
“I love you,” I whispered, as I clutched his bearded chin, grabbed my usual five bags, and locked the door behind me.
A few hours later, I received a text from him: I know we didn’t go to bed last night on a very good note, but I appreciate you being kind this morning, still kissing me goodbye, and saying you love me. Didn’t go unnoticed. thanks. And I do LOVE you!
Confused as to why I deserved the praise here, I reminded him that I was only able to be compassionate because he had found me in the night to make amends. I asked if he remembered doing that.
I do. I realized I never kissed you goodnight. Needed to make up for it ;)
Thus, the cycle of contempt reversed into one of warmth. That’s how this whole marriage thing works, isn’t it? When ugliness ensues, attempt a U turn.
While this particular exchange didn’t require a tiresome conversation to demolish the wall of bitterness (we have those too), it did need something more than a new day, and my husband’s innocent peace offering was just it. If he hadn’t waived that white flag in the middle of the night, I’ll admit I probably would’ve woken up a little sour.
Last night, my husband was the better one. The softer one. The reasonable, mature one. The one to release his end of the rope during a petty game of tug-of-war.
And I guess that makes me the lucky one.