>It was an “almost” fight. The night before was the real fight–the I’m locking you out of the house fight–and that afternoon I still wasn’t ready to let it go. The specifics aren’t important, but it was pivotal fight. I was ready to give up on our marriage. But something happened. It is hard to express in words because I want to write that I was right, but the end of the thing had nothing to do with who right or wrong. My husband turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, “You are right.” It wasn’t lip service. He meant it.
We had been losing Jason by degrees over the last few months. A few minutes here, and hour there. He was home more but less connected with the family. He would come home and sit in his chair with his laptop until it was time for bed. Occasionally he would put the computer down if the kids specifically asked him, but usually he would just yell at them to give him time to work or tell them to go outside to play. In typical Fran-fashion, I was wrapped up in the medical and educational drama with the kids. At the end of the day, it was easier to ignore it than to talk about it, but I was becoming more and more resentful. It came to a head the day of the golf-outing. He lied to me and then told me that he didn’t disclose the details because I just would have gotten mad at him. That did it. I can take a lot of crap, but hearing him blame me for his mistake was the limit. That was the kind of crap my crack-head brother-in-law pulled after a bender–it was always someone else’s fault. The fight that followed was typical–I pulled out all the baggage that I had been carrying around since our last fight, and he sat there like a lump, occasionally saying, “You’re right” or “I know” or “I screwed up” not meaning any of it. One-sided fighting is exhausting. I went to bed drained, feeling soiled by the horrendous outpouring of negative emotions and thinking that none of it made a dent.
The next morning was church. I am a special-needs partner for a little girl there, and if I didn’t have that responsibility, I know I would have just skipped altogether. (I am reminded that God knew before I was born, before the world was created, that we needed to go to church that morning as a family.) We all got dressed and left the house as I gave Jay the cold-shoulder the whole time. Sunday School went smoothly, but before the main service Alex decided he wasn’t feeling well. I brought him into the auditorium with me which was fine and a relief at the time because I put him in between me and Jay. I didn’t even want to sit on the same pew with Jason let alone right beside him. (I never said I was mature!) Little did I know that the sermon that day would exactly what we needed.
Ever since we joined this church well over a year ago, our pastor has been doing a weekly study of I Samuel during the 11 o’clock hour. He jokes that he asks newer members when they joined the church and they reply, “Sometime in I Samuel chapter 17.” That week we were studying I Samuel 28, “the last chapter Saul makes it out alive,” according to our pastor. How had Saul, annointed King of Israel, fallen so low? By the end of the chapter, he stooped low enough to seek the powers of the witch of Endor to raise the spirit of Samuel to give him counsel. Because of his own actions, he was about to lose his crown, his legacy, his friends, his children and his very life. At the end of this sermon, our pastor challenged all of the men in the church to examine their lives and to become the men, husbands and fathers that they should be. I could tell Jay was listening intently, and he reached over to take Alex’s hand. At the invitation, I was praying. For forgiveness for my ugliness and for a change in my family and my husband. I had this little test for God already to go–if Jason went up front, I knew that God was listening and that things were going to be okay. God has a sense of humor about my little tests–Jason never moved.
We left the building and headed to the car. I was crushed and confused. I was sure that if Jason didn’t respond to the power of that message, he wouldn’t respond to anything. Now more sad than mad, I agreed quietly to his suggestion that we go out to lunch at Red Robin. I don’t know exactly how it started or who said what when, but by the time we parked the car outside the restaurant, the floodgates opened. He apologized, I apologized, he cried, I cried. When he left the car, I was hopeful again. He made promises. They weren’t like his usual “let me get Fran off my back by promising something I never intend to follow through with.” I was looking at a changed man.
I stayed in the car a few minutes longer to try to compose myself. When I came in he was sitting with the kids. He smiled at me and my heart melted. He has a certain smile that is a combination of angelic and boyish, and that was the smile he gave me. He had ordered a basket of fries to keep the kids happy as they waited for the meal. It arrived, and we all dug in. There was one fry–bigger and longer than the rest in the middle of the basket. I remember thinking simply, “I am going to save that for Jason. I know he would like that one.” One by one, the fries dissappeared–except the special fry. Neither of us said anything. Finally, it was the last fry in the basket. I looked at Jason and said, “I saved that one for you.” He looked at me and said, “No, I was saving it for you.”
Give and take, promise and trust, love and laugh. I don’t know much, but I do know that I am blessed. I also know that God is there and hears us at our most desperate hour. He wants our marriages and our relationships with our families to be strong. It is through Him that a sermon and a steak fry can heal a marriage.