Stretching toward each other


It will be their 39th anniversary in a week. I remember nights from my childhood when they fought. My dad's temper flaring, my mom refusing to be a doormat. Somewhere along the way, my dad pinned up verses, a poem, an Ann Landers column, faded newsprint now, hanging like flypaper from the bookshelves right above his computer. Those thin papers have been there for years. You wouldn't think something so insignificant could change a man's heart. But slowly his tongue softened, his words melted, and the space between them shrank. Oh, he still flares up sharp when things aren't planned out just right. But one look from my mother, and he begins to concede, backpeddling, trying to take it back right while they are still talking it over.

My husband swears. A lot. I wish he didn't. And I pull away, push away even, glare with my sharp brown eyes, chastise him without words. I like to think I never put him down in front of the kids, as if they can't read eyes as well as words. But I'm fooling myself. We're stretched thin in the same places my parents were in these trying times of raising small ones, their voices interrupting, drowning us out sometimes, leaving little space for peaceful, lingering debates, pushing us into small spaces of conversation and turning up the heat.

We stretch our hands out toward each other just as my parents did. I put up verses on the window sills. He memorizes one about the power of the tongue.

Our tenth anniversary is a few weeks away. We are one quarter as married as my parents. One quarter as grown into one another. In forty, will we be mellowed into routines of concession and forgiveness as they are?

There is hope. I see it whenever I visit their home, in the flypaper thin Ann Landers column hanging from my dad's shelf. His stretching toward my mother. I feel Aaron stretching toward me. I need to stretch toward him, forget this pulling away. Forget the wounded animal hurt, forget nursing wounds. Love covers a multitude of sins. Weymouth said, Love throws a veil over a multitude of faults.
Love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. (I Peter 4:8 The Message)

Linked up with Lisa-Jo on the prompt, "Stretch"