As my wife and I drove away from our wedding reception, I had a totally idiotic thought: I don’t think we’ll ever fight again.
It seems absurd now but it made sense then.
Raquel and I had gone through a stressful engagement, but so much of it revolved around our attempt to pull off a super low-budget wedding. I figured once we got married, we would go back to the infatuation of dating and stay there until death parted us. And you know, things were looking pretty good – for the first five days of the honeymoon.
It was the night of the candlelight dinner by the sea where everything went wrong.
The dinner was part of the honeymooner package I purchased at the resort where we stayed, and I had brought a suit to wear without a tie. Raquel didn’t like it.
As we walked down the sidewalk to the beach, she asked, “Are you going to wear that?”
“What do you mean?”
“The jacket. I don’t know, it’s just ...”
She looked at me with stinky face.
“Embarrassing,” she said.
It really irritated me, probably because I had an unhealthy need for her approval.
“I wanted to look nice for this date,” I said defensively.
“Well, you look overdressed,” she said.
“Fine,” I said, “I’ll take it off.”
I turned around, went back to the hotel room and threw the jacket onto the bed.
We walked back toward the beach in silence, sat down at our table and got ready for what should’ve been the nicest meal we had that week. It was not to be.
While the food may have been good, it sure was hard to enjoy – and it wasn’t just because I was sulking.
I don’t know if God decided to have a good laugh that night or what, but all of a sudden it got unseasonably cold. I sat there shivering, putting my hands over the candleholder in an effort to warm up and shame Raquel at the same time. Raquel tried to act like she was fine but I knew she was freezing.
“I could give you my jacket, Raquel, but I don’t have it.”
Next thing you know, we were having an argument over cold steak and shrimp.
Later on, we apologized for the way we had acted and made up. It was a long time, however, before I realized what really happened that night.
I thought we had a fight because Raquel provoked me with an unnecessary comment. In other words, I believed my reaction was her fault. It wasn’t.
Raquel could’ve shared her opinion more kindly, but I still had control over how I responded.
I am the one who decided to take off my jacket, and I was the one who chose to be cold. I was the one who chose the negative thoughts and the negative feelings that followed. I still have that choice when we have the occasional conflict.
I have the power to forgive, which takes the twisted pleasure out of responding in anger, and it effectively ends conflicts in a positive way.
I’ve taken off my boxing gloves, stepped out of the ring, and genuinely hope the other person will join me. Whatever they do at that point is up to them.
In the book "The Meaning of Marriage," Tim Keller says, “Marriage brings out the worst in you. It doesn’t create your weaknesses (though you may blame your spouse for your blow-ups) – it reveals them.”
For so many of us, marriage reveals that we see the world in terms of winners and losers, and we’re not going down without a fight.
If we choose to forgive our spouses, however, we find our greatest strength. Our sense of entitlement dies, our desire for peace emerges and to our surprise, we discover both of us can come out on top.