Backing our car into the parking space of an empty parking lot was the last straw.
I’d bitten my tongue during our first months together, parking peccadilloes being easily overshadowed by the first blooms of young love. By the time we were engaged I’d graduated to the occasional lighthearted, though pointed, remark. But when our wedding day came and went without any adjustment in parking practices I decided to be brutally honest and enlighten him as to the error of his parking ways.
My husband was unmoved.
In the case of parking disputes you should know there is no middle ground. You either believe backing into a parking space to ensure a quick exit in the event of an alien invasion is necessary or you do not.
Clearly my marriage was doomed.
One might conclude I was simply being a melodramatic young bride. The solution might even seem obvious to those holier and more patient than the girl I speak of. After all, how hard could it have been to patiently endure my husband’s parking peculiarities on occasion? Harder than you know, my dear friends.
Besides, what kind of a husband would want his beloved wife to suffer so?
What kind of husband, indeed. After careful consideration, I came to the earth-shattering conclusion that my husband didn’t care about me, had never cared about me, in fact. It had all been a lie.
Once I adjusted to the shock, I embraced my new role as Scorned Wife. Every situation has a bright side, after all. No longer would I have to iron, rise early to prepare breakfast or compromise when deciding how to spend my evenings.
Yes, it seemed clear to me my husband no longer deserved my loving care. It was also obvious he could stand to learn a lesson or two. After a week or so of lonely nights and cold cereal for breakfast he’d wise up, his ridiculous parking preferences would become a thing of the past and we could return to our normal state of marital bliss.
Having long evenings to myself allowed me to catch up on my reading. I was having a fine time until John Paul the Great decided to be a killjoy:
“Offenses against the marital covenant of love are signs and symbols of the offenses of God’s people against him…God’s love is a forgiving and merciful love. Spousal love must also be forgiving and merciful.”
Operation Prove Husband Wrong: Terminated.
In choosing to deprive Dan of care and affection, I had (conveniently) forgotten that though two had become one, there were three people in this marriage. On that cool October night that saw us married, we had not only given ourselves to one another, we had sworn an oath before God to “forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to be ‘subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,’ and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love.” (CCC 1642)
I hadn’t promised to love and cherish Dan only when he deserved it, had earned it or when I felt like it. I vowed to love him in good times and in bad. In my naiveté I had assumed we would always go through the bad times together. I’ve since learned that sometimes the bad times stand between us like a wall. Though challenging and perhaps even painful, it’s during these times that it’s more crucial than ever to choose love.
We must practice supernatural, virtuous love, not withhold affection to drive home a point. Communicate honestly and charitably but remember that occasionally negotiations fail even between parties of goodwill. Husbands retreat, and wives stew. At times the best course of action is to stop talking and start loving. Deliver your disagreement to God, the Divine Physician. Not every problem is ours to solve, nor every wound ours to heal.
On those days when choosing to love your husband feels nearly impossible, set your eyes firmly on our Lord. Make breakfast, iron, smile and die to self for Him who deserves your unwavering fidelity. Eventually the storm will pass and you will again be able to do these things out of love for your dear husband.
Over time I‘ve come to see that, whether motivated by a desire to save me the headache of parking lot congestion or to protect me from hostiles, my husband’s parking motives are pure.
In truth, though, his motives matter very little. I have learned that it’s not about who is right and who is wrong. Even were his motives selfish, I would still be called to rise above my own feelings of frustration and honor God by loving this man through thick and thin.
When disagreements arise between spouses a solution is often elusive, but the exhortation to love is clear.
Cover image: Designtickle.com