Fighting and bickering can do great things for your marriage.
One time my husband chewed a banana, and I hated him for it. Oh you're thinking hatred seems a little extreme to apply to something as innocent as banana-eating? You're obviously not married.
He was CHEWING his BANANA. Teeth clanking together over and over and over. The banana was super soft. Do you hear me?! Soft! There’s no need to CHOMP a banana.
So there he was, standing in the kitchen masticating; and there I was, hating him:
"Why are you clanking your teeth? Why are you chewing so much? It's a banana."
"Really? Well you always stick your tongue out when you eat."
"No I don't."
"Yeah you do, it's gross."
Just a conversation between two people in love, folks. Maybe it doesn't sound like loving dialogue to you? Perhaps. But here's the realization I've come to: fighting and bickering and venting is exactly what I need in my marriage.
When I was a newlywed, my husband never irritated me. Everything he did was amazing and cute and sexy. But years pass, kids are born, and sh*t gets real. You're not as concerned about patiently working on your relationship, talking in calm voices about your concerns, and finding a mutually beneficial solution.
Nope. It's about survival — get the permanent marker out of the baby's mouth and help me clean up this syrup the toddler just dumped out, and someone feed the cat and I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S FOR DINNER SO STOP ASKING ME.
When I did start to occasionally feel animosity towards my husband, I felt guilty. Gasp! Maybe we didn't have a healthy marriage. I thought maybe I didn't love him as much as that pretty girl on Instagram loves her husband. Plus, that girl is really good at Dutch braiding her hair. So now I can't do a Dutch braid and I hate my husband.
Here's the deal, though: I can fight with my husband because I trust him. Most the time, yeah, it's calm voices and patience. It's mutual respect and love. But sometimes it's getting in the trenches, laying it out on the table, saying whatever the hell you want because you know you are safe.
You can express frustrations, be hurtfully honest; you can be 100 percent yourself even when it's not your best self. Because here's the great part: you forgive each other.
That's the beauty of marriage. You're surviving together. You're marching on, side by side, forgiving each other for weaknesses and acknowledging each other's strengths. It’s about truly knowing a person, not their Instagram self or their church self or their work self — their true, imperfect self.
And that realness is messy. Sometimes you are head over heels in love that you feel lightheaded. Sometimes you wish they would go away so you can watch Netflix alone. Sometimes you stay up late together talking about your darkest thoughts and your biggest embarrassments and your newest goals, and you feel that deep and fervent connection that you know is always there.
And sometimes you kinda hate them while they chew a banana.