True confessions: I totally judge books by their covers.
It all goes back to that trite little belief that somehow I know what’s best for me – which, generally speaking, is usually a good thing. But when my inner Veruca Salt screams for an Oompa Loompa of her own to take home, ignoring then the obvious need in front of her, that’s a bad thing.
So when my dear friend, Anna, mailed me a pre-baby copy of And the Baby Makes Three, I looked at the front cover – rubber ducky and all – and pitched it to the back of the to-read pile. Now here’s the deal: Anna’s one of my best friends, but she’s also what they’d call on Real Housewives of Orange County, a real Jesus Barbie. Naturally, I looked at the smiling duck on the cover, thought about the gift-giver herself, and immediately assumed I already held all of Life’s answers when it comes to marriage, babies and Christendom at large.*
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Somehow Anna knew what I needed long before I’d even had time to utter the words, “Uh, things are a little different now that Cancan is around.”
So a couple weeks’ ago I finally succumbed to reading it, preparing of course, for my own general chorus of eye-rolling to begin. But the eyeballs stayed in tact. Instead, the pen came out and the underlining began. And I stared in amazement at these two authors – a husband and wife pair, at that – who had somehow secretly planted a hidden camera in our little 1100-square foot house. By jove, they’ve done it again!
By the time I got to the chapter on fighting – because, apparently, it’s inevitable in marriage – I was sitting up in bed, reading the chapter aloud to the HBH. See, we’d just had another silly, pointless squabble, and I’d felt his tone was mean, and he’d then felt attacked, and so the cycle spins, over and over again.
But then the magic happened: when (not if) a fight ensues, fight calmly, gently and with humor. And then they gave examples of how we should fight. I mean, who thinks of this stuff? I felt like I was back in Psychology 101, furiously taking notes, while jotting a reminder to use “I feel, I feel, I feel…” in the margins of my notebook.
So last night when someone (okay, me) decided to use the blender for very good baby food-making purposes AFTER said baby had gone to sleep, thus waking up the peaceful Little Bubs – and another someone (okay, him) bounded into the kitchen to stop the insanity, I didn’t like his tone.
I’m nourishing our baby! Hiss, hiss.
We looked at each other, and I looked at the nearly blended food – 10 more seconds wouldn’t hurt anyone, right? And then because we’d been talking about this very chapter all week long, we inhaled deeply and then went our separate ways, just for a couple of minutes, to think and breathe and relax.
Fight calmly, gently and with humor.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
I can’t remember what to die for hysterical funniness I must have uttered, but I’m sure it was good. And calmly, gently, the Best Man I Know took me in his arms and we hugged it out. [That wasn’t exactly in Gottman and Gottman’s fighting chapter, but we believe in hugging it out, fiercely.]
So friends, in a Real Housewives of San Francisco kind of way, that’s the truth of where we are. We don’t have it down – and I’m guessing, as I’m sure a future book can attest – that we never will, but we’re trying.
And sometimes that’s the whole battle.
*It’s not a Christian book, by the way.