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This morning I made breakfast for my husband and I- a rare thing, I'm quick to admit- but something I enjoy doing whenever I get the chance. Drew is the more eager chef between the two of us, but this morning he was sleeping in, so I took the opportunity to make breakfast.
My recipe of choice? Peanut-butter and bananas on bread.
That's right. My elaborate, once-in-a-blue-moon "homemade" breakfast for my husband was a slice of bread slathered with generic brand peanut-butter and topped with a banana. Don't get me wrong, this was a much harder recipe than it sounds like. First of all, there are no knives in this hotel room, so I used that college trick of folding the aluminum from the top of the jar into a make-shift knife for spreading the peanut-butter. This also meant splitting the banana into pieces with my fingers. (Perhaps you've never noticed this, but a banana actually has some natural divides so that if it is not yet too ripe and too squishy, you can make it separate into thirds with just a squeeze.) Using this little trick, I parted the banana into three slender strips and laid them out onto the bread.
This peanut-buttery mess probably marks the second breakfast I have ever made as a wife, and I am fast approaching my first anniversary this May. I could blame this lack of breakfast-making on our constant travels, launching us into a bizarre year of Asian oddities since our fourth month of marriage. But to be honest...I've never really fit the "cook" role very well. In fact...I avoided cooking all-together until I moved away from home and it became a necessity. Even then, I never got much further than soups stews.
There's something about marriage though that makes me want to serve. Maybe it hasn't inspired me to cook hearty dinners, but it does inspire me to fetch our dinner from the street-vendor down the road when my husband is sick and can't make the walk with me. Or to learn the devilish trickery of "men's haircuts". Similarly, it made him willing to spend an hour on hold with an airline that would give my twin sister a ticket to visit us in Chile. And it makes him accept the role of "door-answer-er" without complaint. It's not just love that makes us want to do these things out of our natural habit...I think it's the companionship too that makes a person want to serve, impress, and please their teammate.
There is nothing like companionship.
Unfortunately this is also what gives the first year of marriage its learning curve. To become one with someone in partnership as a working team is to become starkly aware of that person's every habit. The ones that work well with yours and the ones that don't. It is more than humbling that first time the person you want to impress and please and serve says...
"Hey...that was hurtful."
or "I disagree."
Is there a single wife out there who wouldn't admit that that just sucked? That first time disappointing the guy you couldn't live without. Surely husbands feel it too, but their expressions are different. I became defensive. Then I pouted or cried. Then I blame-shifted and ...maybe I slammed a door...I don't remember. But when all of that was done and I was ready to admit that I just...hated anything but approval from this man in my life, I seated myself beside him and the real communication began. I see it in Drew too, when I have to tell him something he isn't quite ready to accept. Yes there is defensiveness and maybe the man-version of pouty-ness too. No tears but I tell myself he'd cry if he was a girl. And then the real communication.
That learning curve feels hard when you're in the middle of it.
But what "month #1 wife" doesn't know yet is that...you DO learn. Soon, the insecurity we layered on like armor in the risk-all/protect-all years of youth, begins to fall away and with it, defensiveness fades too. Soon we realize that "that was hurtful" and "I disagree" does not mean "I don't love you" or "I don't value what you think." And we start to realize that we can be love-able and flawed all at the same time: imperfect doesn't mean un-loveable. At least for me, I started to fear less. It's kind of like growing out of junior high. In junior high we're all too insecure and scared of the opinions of our peers to treat each other kindly. You know what I mean. Everyone's afraid of being the loser, so they fumble around calling each other "loser." We're all too scared of rejection to stand the thought that we may not be cool. Insecurity breeds funny behaviors like that. Clearly we were all uncool, didn't we realize that?
When that insecurity does fall away though, what's left is the desire to serve, impress, and please. Without insecurity stirring up a fear of failure, those desires are free to blossom as they're meant to. Instead of manifesting the wild-card sort of things they manifested in the early months of marriage, they begin to manifest those deeply good things.
Like peanut-butter and banana on bread.
Well...hopefully better things than that, but you know what I mean.
The point is, even when all I have is a jar of peanut-butter, a loaf of bread and a banana, I find myself wanting to serve, impress, and please my husband. But not because there's any fear that I NEED to do this for him to love me. Simply because it blesses me to bless my teammate.
We are like two legs walking together: legs that had to learn not to fear (hmmm and now I've stretched the analogy beyond its sensical end.)