You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a pointy-headed professor to know that wherever human paths cross, there lies the potential for conflict. Nowhere is this truer than in the family unit. With different personalities and temperaments, different likes and dislikes, the delicate balance of relationships can be a minefield – a powder keg waiting to blow.
We have been married now for nearly 21 years. As strong as our marriage is and as committed as we are to sticking together, there have been days. Oh, there have been days. As Ruth Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, said when she was asked if she’d ever considered divorce, “No, I’ve never thought of divorce in all these 35 years of marriage, but I did think of murder a few times.”
It’s funny. On most issues, we see eye to eye. I honestly don’t know of anyone else with whom I have so much in common. Our politics jibe. Our theology matches. Our hopes and dreams for the future are the same. On the thorny issue of which way the toilet tissue should hang, our hearts beat as one (it should roll down over the top, of course). It’s the little quirks and foibles, then, that can occasionally derail the happy train.
If you were to ask my husband what I do that irritates him the most, I can tell you without blinking what that would be. You see, I have a strong desire for neatness in my world. Clutter bothers me. With six people in a small house, some clutter is inevitable. However, every so often the girl has had enough, and then it’s “Katie, bar the door,” ‘cause the clutter’s gotta go. My family knows by now that when Mama’s in that mood, they’d better keep moving or else they, too, will be stacked, sorted, pitched, or recycled.
What happens, then, is that once in a while in my straightening-up frenzy, I will move an object to a different spot and promptly forget where I put it. This makes my orderly, everything-in-its-place husband absolutely crazy. As entertaining as it is to watch him swing from the rafters by his fingernails, it doesn’t seem to have an overall beneficial effect on our marriage. And when I point out that while he may be tied in knots, seeing red, or sprouting an ulcer, at least he’s not bored, he only begins praying for that very thing. “Dear Lord, I’d like to be bored for once…”
There is another thing I do once in a blue moon that makes him nuts. This is something that can only be chalked up to my femininity and, thus, is beyond my control. When I am startled, I do a very girlish thing. I scream. While some men think it’s a hoot to scare their wives, this is not true for Mr. Schrock. Having inherited the narrow Brubacher ear canals, a high-pitched scream is actually painful for him.
Once, after we were first married, I was working in the kitchen when he appeared out of nowhere, scaring the daylights out of me. When I cut loose with a blood-curdling shriek, he was so startled himself that he did his own little dance of fear, which loosely resembled an Irish jig. As I dissolved into helpless laughter, my poor husband stood there, eardrums shattered, shocked that his mere appearance could set off such a chain reaction.
On his part, he comes from a tradition that believes that, “If you’re not early, you’re late.” Put one of those with a serial procrastinator and it’s a kaboom just waiting for the match. While I’m calculating how late we can leave for church and still make it, he’s issuing an itinerary to the troops that involves arriving the day before. Well, almost.
Even he had to admit he erred on the side of caution the time we were slated to fly out of O’Hare airport. After compiling a list of everything that could possibly happen to delay us, including traffic jams, a blown tire, construction, detours, and carjackings, he hauled us out of bed in the dark of night. Given that no one in Chicago is moving a muscle at 2 a.m., we sailed up in record time, arriving four hours before departure, sleep deprived and haggard. Men have been drug out in the street and shot for less than this.
As for the boys, they have their own pet peeves. One of them, for instance, is a hugger and a kisser. He has no qualms about kissing grandmothers, aunts, or brothers. His older brother, however, would rather dip his lips in boiling oil than to use them to kiss anyone but his parents. He would certainly rather dip his brother’s lips in boiling oil than to let them pucker in his direction.
When said kisser tried to lay one on his brother before he left for Mexico, we had about three minutes of spontaneous combustion in the living room. It took their father donning his fireman suit to extinguish the blaze. I would’ve jumped in with the fire extinguisher, but I was straightening up the other day and I can’t remember where I put it.
At least, thank God, we’re not bored.
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