This week my husband and I celebrate 7 years of marriage. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that “for better” is so much better than I could have imagined, and that no one gets a pass on “for worse.” But 7 years is nothing compared to 30 years, which is how long my parents have been married. So I thought I’d share a story my mom shared with me before my wedding.
Family Circle magazine would have newlyweds believe that the first year of marriage is a minefield set to explode with arguments over money, sex, and in-laws. But I’m here to prove them wrong. The bomb that first went off in our marriage was caused by butter.
It was the summer of 1970—no one had even thought to worry about cholesterol and fat in the diet. Your father and I had just arrived in [our new hometown]—new to living together, new to his job at X College and mine at Y High, and new to our borrowed row-house.
This Saturday morning we had just unpacked the large skillet, and your father, in enthusiastic homage to your Grandpa’s family tradition, had made us pancakes. The aroma of Aunt Jemima’s batter wafted pleasantly from the kitchen; we felt finally “settled” as Mr. and Mrs.
Four hot pancakes sat invitingly on my plate. First, I sliced three pats of butter and inserted them neatly between the layers. Then I put a fourth pat on the side of the plate—so I wouldn’t have to chirp “pass the butter, please” later in the meal.
Just as I lifted the first bite to my mouth, your father looked up and gasped, “You’re going to eat all that butter? How disgusting!”
I was stunned. I loved butter. My mother loved butter (it was she who had taught me to freeze it by the pound). My whole family loved butter. And here was my new husband—attacking me for a lifetime habit, this deep link with my past!
I leapt up angrily and ran out of the house. How dare he pass judgment! What business of his was it what I ate? Who did he think he was! By the time I hit the end of the street and started down the hill to walk by the river, I’d decided I’d made a terrible mistake: I should never have gotten married at all.
An hour later I returned to the house. By that time I was worn out and sad. Mostly I just felt deeply alone. When I entered, there stood your father—cold pancakes and syrup dried to both plates beside him.
“I’m sorry!” he said. “I shouldn’t have said that. If you want to eat butter, go right ahead. You can eat all you want to!”
The incident didn’t blow over quite so easily, for I was skittish about eating butter around your father for years. But we both learned a lesson about marriage that day. Even a trifle like butter can have deep feelings attached to it. So partners must learn to judge each other with care.
-- By Grandma2Miles (& Riley)