Monday, October 09, 2006

"The Mayonnaise War"

I really, REALLY need to keep this story in mind lately. I can't tell you how this struck a chord in me today. I think it just changed my life.

"The Mayonnaise War"
from Chicken Soup For the Couple's Soul
Nick Harrison

Back when I was a new Christian, I used to brag that the divorce rate among active Christians was only one out of a thousand marriages.

Sadly, that argument bit the dust long ago.

In fact, as a bookseller and book reviewer, I'm noticing more and more titles on marital problems among Christians. After all, the vow was "for better or for worse," and as I look back on my own marriage, I see how many pitfalls have come from mistaken expectations.

My wife thought she was marrying Ward Cleaver, and I assumed every new wife stepped out of a Good Housekeeping advertisement, a can of Pledge in one hand, the other busily stirring the stroganoff and a seal of approval on her forehead.

Surprise- we were both wrong. I made that discovery the first night I opened the fridge to fix a sandwich.

"Hey, Honey ... where's the Best Foods Mayonnaise?"

Silence. And then, "Darling ... I don't use Best Foods, I use Kraft Miracle Whip."

Silence again.

Over the next several days, we discovered she liked Crest, I brushed with whatever was on sale. I liked green olives, she hated them and would only eat black ones. When I, shivering, turned up the furnace and the electric blanket, she was right behind me turning them down.
Remembering her childhood, she liked to take Sunday afternoon drives- to which I would respond, "Yes, but that was when gas was twenty-nine cents a gallon. Let's watch an old movie instead."

The worst discovery of all was that she was a morning person, popping out of bed like a piece of toast, while I awoke with pajamas nailed to the mattress. "If God meant man to see the sunrise, "I explained," he'd have scheduled it for much later in the day."

The night we both realized we both liked Ivory soap, we celebrated.

I guess that we discovered no disagreement is so small it can't evolve into a major problem, and that two monologues do not equal a dialogue. But most of all, we learned we no longer belonged to the separate universes we once did as singles. Our task was now to forge a new universe, one in which we would inhabit together.

After all these years, I'm still a night person, and my wife is still a morning glory. As for Ward Cleaver, she simply has to face it. I'm probably always going to be more like the Beav. And I've come to realize she's more likely to step out of the pages of the National Enquirer than Good Housekeeping.

But we love each other- and as a result, she's come to like grits for breakfast (or any other time), while I finally understand that the garbage does not take itself out.

We now have separate controls for the electric blanket. I put on a sweater when I'm cold. And in the refrigerator, side by side like a pair of contented lovebirds, sits a jar each of Best Foods Mayonnaise and Kraft Miracle Whip."

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